The arrival of COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives – from the way we work, think, dress, shop and interact with others. As a society, we’re also spending more time in our homes than ever before. The days of leaving the house from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, have been replaced by rolling out of bed, walking down the stairs and working from home.
For homebuyers, this has created an opportunity to rethink where you want to live, the type of home you want to buy and the amount you can afford. In ordinary times, a home represents a safe and secure sanctuary. During a global pandemic, however, the importance of a protective and practical place to call home has been amplified.
Since mid-March, working from home has been a necessity for many Canadians. The concept took a bit of getting used to but, as restrictions were lifted and more businesses started to return to normal, a large number of those who could return to the office decided to stay home. This isn’t only a new trend – it’s becoming the new normal, and shaping how people live and work around the globe.
It goes without saying that the phenomena of working from home has also had a profound effect on people’s finances by generating a kind of forced savings. No more commuting means saving on gas, tolls, parking, insurance premiums as well as public transit, and less wear and tear on our vehicles means fewer maintenance fees and repairs. We’re eating at home rather than having lunch out with co-workers and making a pot of coffee each morning can significantly offset the cost of grabbing a cup of java on the go every day. The need for a professional wardrobe has all but diminished, trips to the salon have become less frequent, and pet owners are cancelling their dog walkers and doggie daycare.
You can live wherever you want
Hand in hand with the benefits of saving money associated with working from home comes the freedom to live wherever you want. Traditionally, where we worked had a significant impact on where we lived and what we could afford, but now the tides are changing. We’re no longer restricted by choosing the location of our home based on its proximity to work or because of its commuter-friendly location. This can translate into direct savings for those who opt to live somewhere less expensive as you have the freedom to choose a location best suited to your needs.
Many buyers are placing a greater emphasis on getting exactly what they want in a home. At the outset of the pandemic, people were content to covert an existing room into an office, simply work at the kitchen table or on the living room couch. But as the notion of working from home becomes more permanent, people are looking for specific features to accommodate their new workplace and lifestyle, and the importance of space is taking centre stage. Demands for larger homes with dedicated office space, separate areas reserved for online learning, larger kitchens, a place for family downtime and expansive outdoor spaces for mental wellbeing are becoming more important. Six months ago, a lot of these needs couldn’t be met but now the ability to purchase a home based on our wants is directly linked to our ability to work remotely. The freedom to work from home will inevitably affect where people decide to live and the type of home they can buy. Not surprisingly, the trend of where to buy has shifted more to the suburbs where you can typically get a lot more bang for your buck.
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