'Cooped-up' Toronto couple now embracing country life in eastern Ontario

Roughly six out of 10 Ontarians in the market for a house say moving to rural areas has become more appealing during the pandemic. Romina Kolodziejska and Matt Falvo acted on that feeling, and now own a cottage just north of Kingston, Ont.

Pandemic convincing Canadians to increasingly consider rural living

Romina Kolodziejska and Matt Falvo moved this December from a Toronto townhouse to a waterfront cottage in Sharbot Lake, Ont. The couple said the COVID-19 pandemic has freed them from needing to physically live in Toronto. (Submitted by Romina Kolodziejska)

While Canadians have been leaving the country to move to cities for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic may be reversing that trend. 

Approximately 60 per cent of Ontarians in the market for a house say moving to rural areas has become more appealing during the pandemic, according to a recent survey from the Ontario Real Estate Association.

Romina Kolodziejska and Matt Falvo are one Toronto couple who acted on that feeling.

Leaving the big city in their rear-view mirror, the couple moved Thursday into a cottage roughly 300 kilometres away in Sharbot Lake, Ont., north of Kingston.

"COVID and working from home definitely played the largest role in this," said Kolodziejska, who before the move had lived in the Greater Toronto Area her entire life. The couple spoke to CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning on Friday. 

"This kind of allowed us to make this move a lot quicker. This is kind of our retirement plan, come, you know, 40 years quicker."

Kolodziejska called the lockdown in spring "awful," saying the two bounced between tears and panic, worried about the health of their loved ones and their own job security. 

But now, freed from their daily commute and able to work remotely, their need to physically be in Toronto has vanished.

"That is a major, major difference," Falvo said. "We felt pretty cooped up inside of a small townhouse."

Cheaper than other rural areas

Kolodziejska said the couple searched all over Ontario for their personal slice of country life before choosing Sharbot Lake, which they found was significantly cheaper than other spots closer to Toronto, like Parry Sound, Ont.

Falvo also lived in Ottawa for years and was familiar with the landscape of eastern Ontario.

Some of their family and friends were surprised by their decision, the couple said, since Sharbot Lake is remote and they only knew a few people there. Falvo also admits he'll miss the convenience of ordering takeout through an app. 

But they're also looking forward to the peace and quiet of their new waterfront view with their dog, Winnie.

"We've also had the warmest welcome from some of our neighbours here on Sharbot Lake," Kolodziejska said. "So I think that will help quite a lot."

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