Escape to the Country

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James E. Houston, CIM, FCSI

October 19, 2020

Image used with permission: iStock/Kirkikis


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Escape to the Country

The popular BBC television series, Escape to the Country, has been running since 2002, and is syndicated worldwide. In its 655 episodes since that time, the show hosts visit three rural properties with volunteer, city-dwelling guests who are wanting to move to a desired region in the UK, and “escape to the country”.

Some background is given about the guests’ current situation, such as what has attracted them to move to the country, and what sort of property characteristics they are looking for. The guests also express a preference for being in or away from a town or village, house style, and the importance of nearby recreational facilities, and so on. They are also asked to provide a budgeted purchase price. In turn, the host guides them to three properties (including one “mystery house”). After having inspected them all, they are asked to guess the offering price of each.

The reasons for the desired moves are varied and personal, but the longevity of the show, and broad viewership suggests that such moves, whether a dream or a reality, are popular.

In Canada, it seems that the draw of a more bucolic lifestyle has grown stronger with the onset of COVID-19. Like so many other responses to the pandemic, this trend, which was already in place as baby boomers reached retirement age, has been accelerated by a desire for more outdoor space, the ability to work from home, and the yearning for a more healthy and active way of life.

Real estate sales in areas such as Collingwood and Southern Georgian Bay have jumped significantly, and despite a slowdown during the spring, the number of property sales year-to-date is up by close to 20%.(1) Local realtors confirm that many buyers are people moving up from the GTA and surrounding urban areas. Similar activity has been experienced in the Peterborough & Kawarthas region, and the Northumberland Hills, all of which are less than a two-hour drive from the city.

If it weren’t compelling enough to consider only the qualitative aspects of such a move (nearby access to ski hills, golf courses, hiking trails, farmers’ markets, boating & sailing, and more), there may also be a significant financial benefit to escaping to the country.

It is likely that you will buy more real estate at a lower cost, thereby increasing your investible assets, while at the same time reducing lifestyle expenses. A Nexus financial plan would allow you to see what positive impact this could have on your current situation. Such flexibility may allow for an earlier retirement, increased longevity of your investment portfolio, a greater legacy upon death, or increased philanthropic endeavors.

If an escape to the country is something that you are considering, or if you are interested to know what the financial impact of such a move might be, please contact us. We will help you turn your dreams into reality.

(1) Southern Georgian Bay Association of Realtors, to end of August.

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