Clarington, the GTA’s eastern gateway, offers affordability and mix of rural and urban amenities
With the average price of a detached home in the 905 region now at $588,784, the eastern Greater Toronto Area is becoming the land of opportunity for home buyers looking for affordability and a pace of life slower than the big city.
Clarington, the eastern gateway to the GTA may have been largely undiscovered to this point, but real estate broker Jim Abernethy sees that changing soon. The spring market has been a brisk in most of Durham Region, including Oshawa, Courtice and Clarington which offer bargain prices compared to the rest of the GTA. The average price of a detached home in Durham is $357,386; Clarington’s average is $349,330 for a single home and $223,930 for a townhome.
Clarington (which is made up of 35 different communities including towns, villages and hamlets) is just under an hour from downtown Toronto, either via Highway 401 or from the Oshawa GO Station, a short drive away. Bowmanville is the municipality’s largest municipality and offers a heritage downtown as well as big-city amenities such as big box stores, movie theatres, community centres and a variety of restaurants and cafes.
One of Clarington’s appeals is its blend of urban services and amenities and pastoral countryside. Housing options include beautiful rural properties with spectacular views of rolling countryside, heritage homes, new homes and condominiums.
“We have a lot of diversity in housing and more and more higher-end homes are being built here,” says Mr. Abernethy of Royal Service Real Estate. “Clarington’s landscape is very diverse. To the north, you have the Oak Ridges Moraine and its topography is very similar to King Township and Caledon, which are very popular and expensive communities, yet the price per acre in Clarington is lower by half.”
Another plus is that property taxes are very low compared to other GTA municipalities, says Mr. Abernethy.
While the supply of developable land is becoming an issue in other GTA municipalities, including other Durham Region centre such as Pickering and Ajax, that’s not the case in Clarington, says .Mr. Abernethy. “We still have years of growth in commercial, residential and industrial sectors.”
“Size-wise, Clarington is equivalent to the size of City of Toronto proper or you could take Ajax, Oshawa, Whitby and Pickering and put them in Clarington. Ontario Power Generation is our biggest industy, but Number Two is agriculture. We’ve got some very successful farming operations. It’s a good strong heritage we like to build on. Clarington is not a new community, it’s an older community and we’re famous for a lot of things.”
Attractions include sites such as the historic Tyrone Mill (where mouth-watering homemade baked goods can be bought as well as fresh apple cider), Archibald Orchards and Estate Winery, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the Bowmanville Zoological Park, Jungle Cat World and Port Darlington Marina. There are also numerous parks, trails and conservation areas.
“I think there is great opportunity here in the long term,” says Mr. Abernethy, a former mayor of Clarington. “There are a lot of good things scheduled to happen and when that happens, we won’t know what hit us. A lot of people have been resisting coming out to live in the area, as we didn’t have the infrastructure that they have on the west side of Toronto, but as that gets developed, the eastern area is more attractive from an investment point of view and a shrewd investor will try to invest ahead of that infrastructure to take advantage of prices rising.”
That coming infrastructure includes an extension of GO train service to Clarington (although the municipality is currently served by GO bus which takes commuters to the Oshawa GO station), the widening of Highway 401 and the extension of Highway 407 to Oshawa, which lies 10 minutes west.
“There’s been a bit of bump in prices as a result of the 407 coming through,” says Mr. Abernethy. “It helps make the area more accessible to downtown Toronto, though not everybody commutes to jobs in Toronto. Durham Region is really diversified with a lot of companies and businesses here.”
He estimates about 25 per cent of Clarington’s workforce commutes to the big city, while the rest work in the region, which counts OPG, General Motors, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Durham College and Lakeridge Health as major employers.
Mr. Abernethy says what’s going to be an economic driver is the $2 billion refurbishment of four reactors at OPG’s Darlington nuclear plant that will add 2,500 employees over a period of four to six years and more if the Pickering plant’s decommissioning happens as expected within a decade and new reactors are built at Darlington.
As well as a high quality of life and good value, Clarington offers potential for a good return on real estate investment, says Mr. Abernethy.
“The smart investor will be looking at getting in while the getting is good and prices still much less than north and west of Toronto,” he says.