So we have decided to take the leap and buy a home here in Canada. Home prices are continually rising, and we figure we'd better start sooner than later.
Real estate is pretty scary here - the cost of a home is out of reach of most Canadians earning average wages. From our (limited) observations, a "single family home" here is almost 4 times the price of a similar home in Joburg. A 3-bedroom single detached home will cost you at least C$250,000 (R1,6m) - and this is not taking location in to consideration. For an upper middle-class neighbourhood and outside of the main city (suburbs) , it's at least C$350,000 (R2,3m). Within Toronto, the prices start at C$450,000. As a comparison to our R650,000 two-bedroom townhouse in Douglasdale: something similar in a comparable neighbourhood in Toronto would sell for $395,000 (R2,5m). Unlike Joburg, the further out you move from the Toronto city centre, the more affordable it is. So, we looked around in Toronto and have decided to move to the 'burbs.
After much deliberation, we have chosen to buy a semi-detached home in the city of Vaughan.
Vaughan is the "city above Toronto" in the so-called "905" area (where Toronto is the "416" area). The numbers refer to the telephone dialling codes (i.e. Joburg would be the 011 area and Pretoria would be the 012 area). Based on the 2001 census data, Vaughan was the municipality with highest growth in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and 6th highest in the 2006 census. Although Vaughan is north of Toronto, it's much of a muchness in terms of distance to work - Brendon and I both work in the northern part of Toronto, and in fact we will still be within 15 kms of our workplaces. The only difficulty will be public transit, as we will be in York Region which has its own transit authority.
We have chosen an area called "Thornhill Woods" (you can read more about the area in the GTA New Homes magazine or here) where there is a lot of development - the area having been established as recently as 2001. Our home is in phase 2 and is set to be finished and ready to move in in September this year. This works out well for us, as our current lease expires at the end of September. We have signed an Agreement to Purchase, and then starts the fun of figuring out Canadian mortgages and real estate law. On the plus side, we will soon have to go to the builder's decor centre to select fittings, finishes and 'upgrades.'
Then there'll be regular drives out to the site to check on progress - we'll keep you posted as things happen!
This was our lot a few weeks ago...
This is it 4 few weeks later (this past weekend):