Frustrated by high home prices and long commutes? Why not move to Saint John, N.B., where a typical house costs one-quarter as much as in Toronto and where twice as many people have 15-minute commutes than in Vancouver?
That’s the type of pitch Saint John Mayor Don Darling recently made on Facebook, in a post that was screen-grabbed and shared on Reddit where it was viewed by roughly 100,000 people.
“Hey Toronto and Vancouver, move to Saint John NB, we have jobs, you can buy a house for well under 200k and our commutes are measured in minutes,” Mayor Darling wrote. “Contact me and I will share with you how much I love my city and how much we want you,” he added.
The commute times alone are enough to make people in bigger cities jealous. More than 78 per cent of Saint John’s residents told Statistics Canada in 2016 they have a commute time of 29 mins or less, compared to only 42 per cent of those in Toronto and 50 per cent of those in Vancouver. In fact, more than a third (34 per cent) of Saint John residents commuted in 15 minutes or less, compared to 17 per cent in Vancouver and 14 per cent in Toronto.
Affording a home is also much easier. Royal LePage reports that the benchmark price of a typical two-storey house sold in Saint John in the third quarter of 2017 was $227,800, compared to $1,532,849 in Greater Vancouver and $1,014,131 in Greater Toronto.
Local realtor Gina Fudge says she’s heard that many people can’t afford what they want in Toronto. “Yet here in Saint John, you can be this close to water and uptown … and just minutes away from the country,” she said. “People are seeing that now.”
Other locals have gotten on board with the PR push too. “Just went home for lunch,” one Saint John Reddit user wrote. “Got in the car at 12:04, pulled up in front of my house at 12:11 ;)”
Of course, some Reddit users also point out that Saint John doesn’t have the same economic opportunities. There’s a relatively high unemployment rate of 6.8 per cent, compared to 5.9 per cent in Toronto and 4.2 per cent in Vancouver.
And with a population of around 70,000 people, there will never be as many jobs to choose from.
But Mayor Darling says there is work, particularly in IT and health care. "I've received personal messages from small (and) medium enterprises saying we can't find people,” he said. “We need people."
Darling says his post has generated plenty of messages from people who are considering his pitch. “We’ll be doing a bunch of matchmaking in the next short period of time,” he added.
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Mary Cranston