Location Matters: Redefining Living in the Suburbs and the City

The majority of Greater Toronto Area residents would prefer to live in a walkable and transit-accessible neighbourhood in the suburbs or the city that would better suit their day-to-day life, according to an RBC-Pembina Institute study.

The poll found that eight-in-10 GTA residents (79 per cent) said affordability influenced where they live. If cost were not an issue, 81 per cent of respondents indicated they would give up a large yard for a smaller lot or more modest home within walking distance to amenities, easy access to rapid transit and less time behind the wheel. Over half (54 per cent) would choose this type of location-efficient neighbourhood even if it was more expensive.

"The results of the survey indicate that there is a clear desire for more compact and family-friendly homes that are close to where people go everyday. Currently, many of these options are beyond most budgets," said Cherise Burda, report author and Ontario policy director at Pembina Institute.

Stage of life a factor

Stage in life may also be a determining factor in where people choose to live. GTA residents aged 60-and-over showed the strongest preference for living in walkable and compact neighbourhoods (70 per cent), despite the higher home costs in this type of area. In contrast, 59 per cent of families with two or more children strongly preferred large detached homes in car-dependent neighbourhoods with lower housing costs.

"Traditional views of suburban and downtown neighbourhoods are changing. Location and life stage matters when deciding the type of home you live in and where you live," said Claude DeMone, director of client strategy for home-equity financing, RBC. "Affordability remains a key consideration for many homebuyers but this extends beyond just the purchase price, as a better location can help cut commuting costs, reduce home servicing expenses and save on your household budget."

A complete copy of the 2012 RBC-Pembina Home Location Study is available here.

The 2012 RBC-Pembina Home Location Study

The study was conducted May 1-8, 2012, by Environics Research Group. It asked 1,014 adult residents in the Greater Toronto Area a series of questions regarding their preferences for location-associated attributes such as proximity to rapid transit, walkability, commute times, house and yard size and privacy in trying to understand the types of neighbourhoods where GTA residents prefer to live. Questions also explored how home prices influence these preferences, and did not ask about specific neighbourhoods.

The Pembina Institute is a national non-profit think tank that advances sustainable energy solutions through research, education, consulting and advocacy. It promotes environmental, social and economic sustainability in the public interest by developing practical solutions for communities, individuals, governments and businesses. The Pembina Institute provides policy research leadership and education on climate change, energy issues, green economics, energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy, and environmental governance.

on July 17, 2012