Ontarians on the Move #0.5 — It’s Kids, not Seniors, on the Move.

Mike Moffatt
4 min readFeb 19, 2020


PREVIOUS ENTRY: Ontarians on the Move #0 — What Parts of Ontario Are Growing… and Why?

Another prequel to the series Ontarians on the Move. Yeah, I should have mapped this series out better before starting.

TL;DR version: Despite the ideas that seniors are retiring, “cashing out” their real estate, and moving to cottage country, we see very little of that in the data. There is “cashing out” occurring, but it’s under 65s that are doing so. Kids, on the other hand, are moving at high rates, as their parents search for housing they can afford.

In the previous entry, I displayed the following chart, which breaks down the growth of Ontario’s Census Divisions into components. Of particular focus was the fact that Haliburton is growing by 2% a year, on net, just from people moving there from other parts of Ontario. Toronto and Peel, on the other hand, lose more than 1% of their populations, on net, from residents moving to other parts of Ontario.

But how old are the people that are moving? If we know who they are, we can better understand their motivations for moving. In this series, we will do a very fine breakdown by age for each of the census divisions. But as a preview, I thought it would be interesting to do a more crude breakdown.

One of the options for Statcan Table 17–10–0140–01 is to break the data down into 3 age categories:

  • 0–14 year olds
  • 15–64 year olds
  • 65 year olds and up

So that’s what we’ll do for intraprovincial (within Ontario) migration for 2018–19:

How to read this data: Intraprovincial migration to Haliburton alone increased its population by 2.17% in 2018–19. (In total, Haliburton grew by only 1.45% in 2018–19, in part because for the community deaths exceeded births.)

Of that 2.17%, 0–14 year olds accounted for 0.14%, 15–64 year olds accounted for 2.00%, and 65+ accounted for 0.02%.

The Haliburton data alone should be “cause for pause”. Clearly people are selling their homes and moving to Haliburton, but it’s not seniors. As we’ll see in the piece on Haliburton, and other “cottage country” CDs, it’s typically people between the ages of 45–65, not seniors.

Let’s sort the table by 0–14 year olds, to see who is gaining (and losing) the most kids through intraprovincial migration, relative to their population.

Intraprovincial Migration, Ranked by Growth of 0–14 year olds

The answer is… Oxford, which includes Woodstock, Tillsonburg, Ingersoll, Norwich, Zorra, South-West Oxford, Blandford-Blenheim and East Zorra-Tavistock.

Woodstock, in particular, is growing rapidly thanks to families leaving the GTA in search of real estate they can afford. I highly recommend that anyone who is in the area go take a visit and look at the sheer number of houses that have been built in the last 5 years. It’s staggering and the province’s own 30-year population forecasts from just a few months ago are already appearing to be out of date, as they missed what an attractive place Woodstock is for families.

Of course, this isn’t to suggest that Woodstock is the #1 destination for people leaving Toronto; we’re talking growth rates here, not growth in absolute terms, and Woodstock is starting from a relatively low base.

The Toronto and Peel numbers (-0.22%) and (-0.36%) may appear low, given the number of families leaving the region. But we need to remember that families often search for affordable real estate after the birth of their first child. So for every child that is leaving, there are typically 2 parents migrating out as well. We’ll see that in the Toronto and Peel pieces, where the largest outgroup is people in their 30s.

Next, lets sort the list by net gain/loss (in percentage terms) of seniors.

Intraprovincial Migration, Ranked by Growth of 65+ year olds

Kawartha Lakes and Muskoka are near the top of the list, which is what you’d expect. Given the anecdotes I hear, I would have expected Niagara to be higher. Overall, the numbers here are low in absolute terms. Particularly note the Toronto and Peel at -0.10% and -0.11%.

NEXT IN THE SERIES: Ontarians on the Move #0.75–13 Years of Growth in Ontario Cities



Mike Moffatt

Senior Director, Smart Prosperity. Assistant Prof, Ivey Business School. Exhausted but happy Dad of 2 wonderful kids with autism. I used to do other stuff.