Many GTA Homebuyers Give up on Their Top Neighbourhoods: Survey

More than a third of Greater Toronto Area homeowners weren’t able to buy a home in their top neighbourhood of choice — and affordability issues are to blame, a new Wahi survey suggests.  


By Josh Sherman | 3 minute read

Feb 27

Wahi Where to Live

 Wahi’s Where to Live 2023 rankings help homebuyers find a neighbourhood that matches their unique preferences.

What makes a neighbourhood a homebuyer’s top choice? It depends. 


Some want to be close to lots of green space. Others are looking for short commutes to work. While priorities vary, a substantial portion of Greater Toronto Area homeowners share at least one thing in common when it comes to their top neighbourhood of choice: 38% weren’t actually able to buy their current home there.

That’s according to the results of a new Wahi survey of 500 Ontario homeowners. Run by Angus Reid, the survey coincides with the proptech company’s Where to Live 2023 rankings, which provides a detailed ranking of GTA neighbourhoods to help homebuyers find the best neighbourhoods based on a variety of preferences, whether they’re looking for a quiet, family-friendly community, a vibrant, transit-oriented downtown, or anything in between. 


“While people know where they want to live, many had to pick another neighbourhood,” Wahi CEO Benjy Katchen says of the survey findings.

“It’s an affordability issue.”

The issue was most pronounced in the GTA. However, provincewide nearly one third (30%) say they had to give up on their top choice when buying the home they live in today. This was especially true for younger homeowners. Among those aged 18 to 34, close to half (46%) had to move outside their top neighbourhood.


Overwhelmingly, price is the main barrier keeping Ontarians from their most desirable neighbourhood. “It’s an affordability issue,” says Katchen. In fact, 84% of Ontarians who weren’t able to get a home in their most desired neighbourhood said prices were simply out of their budget when they last searched for a place to live. The same is true for GTA residents, who face average home prices that remain far above pre-pandemic levels in a number of neighbourhoods despite recent declines in the face of higher interest rates

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    “Younger people have less of an idea of where they want to live,” says Katchen. Overall, 34% of Ontarians definitely had a preferred neighbourhood or area where they wanted to live, but that number drops to a little over a quarter (28%) for the 18-to-34 cohort. Meanwhile, just 26% of Ontarians, or 18% of GTA residents, “were open to a wide variety of neighbourhoods,” the Wahi poll found. “Across the board, very few people are open to a wide variety of neighbourhoods, and almost nobody is completely unsure,” says Katchen. Only 4% of Ontarians said they weren’t sure where they wanted to live.

    House Hunters Should Leverage Data Before Buying  

    In the past, many homebuyers had to rely on word of mouth or advice from REALTORS® to find a neighbourhood that met their needs and was in their price range. Today, however, homebuyers can leverage data to broaden their searches. 

    Resources like Wahi’s Where to Live 2023 Rankings — which feature detailed analysis of data from Local Logic, a location-intelligence platform, to rank GTA neighbourhoods across 11 categories based on lifestyle, needs, goals and interests — can help empower homebuyers. The report complements Wahi’s comprehensive Neighbourhood Finder, a tool that matches users with neighbourhoods based on preferences for everything from nightlife and shopping to walkability and schools.


    By drilling down into different available metrics, homebuyers may uncover neighbourhoods that they never previously considered. “Data can help homebuyers expand their horizons,” says Katchen.  

      Josh Sherman

      Wahi Writer

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