Durham Region is one of the most affordable real estate destinations for home seekers in the Greater Toronto Area. Properties go for an average of $613,606, according to the latest data from the Toronto Real Estate Board, and housing stock is made up mainly of single-family homes. That’s 28% less than the GTA average price of $852,142 and 34% less than properties located within the City of Toronto, which go for $925,498.
Located within the eastern reaches of the GTA, Durham Region is home to a rich economic landscape, with major employers including General Motors and nuclear power plants. It’s also within commuting distance of Toronto.
The region is a great one in which to raise a family — solidly suburban, neighbourhoods in Durham enjoy easy lake access, large lots and tight-knit communities. It’s also becoming a hotspot for the modern millennial lifestyle, offering a charming array of local mom-and-pop shops, microbreweries, and local farm-to-table dining.
In total, Durham Region encompasses eight smaller urban centres — Ajax, Brock, Clarington, Oshawa, Pickering, Scugog, Uxbrdge and Whitby. Which of these municipalities contain the best neighbourhoods and amenities for home buyers?
Here are our picks for the best neighbourhoods in Durham Region, along with thoughts from Zoocasa agent Robin Pacquing, who specializes in the area:
Brooklin, Whitby: Quaint, Country Living
Brooklin is located just off Highway 407 to the north of the municipality of Whitby, and is a community in its own right. Surrounded by rural land, it’s a bit more remote than other Durham neighbourhoods, which may require residents to depend on their cars for commuting. However, it offers a warm and welcoming neighbourhood that’s perfect for those who love the outdoors.
While the pace of life may be slower, there’s no shortage of local activities; the quaint downtown, which is designated as a heritage district, hosts harvest festivals, Christmas activities, summer art shows, and also has a library and community centre. Don’t miss the annual pie-eating contest!
For house hunters looking for newly-built homes on large lots, Brooklin fits the bill. The average price of a home in Brooklin is $823,958, slightly higher than average houses for sale in Whitby, which go for about $672,677.
Taunton North, Whitby: Brand-New Communities
If you crave the crisp freshness of a new build, Taunton North is a great option. The Taunton North development is only a couple of years old, and boasts new developments, new roads, new schools and new – well, everything, with most homes available in the $600,000 – $900,000-range. Taunton North is close to the 407 and is about a one-hour commute if you work in Toronto, depending on traffic. Amenities are nearby with the shopping center on Harmony Road North. As well, Coldstream Park and Legends Center provide ample entertainment for your family.
Central Ajax: Close Access to Nature and the Waterfront
Central Ajax offers the perfect jumping-off point for those that want to be close to waterfront trails and hikes in conservation areas. Much of the neighbourhood was developed after World War II— no McMansions here. The bungalows built during that time tend to be high quality and notably cheaper than larger houses built now. Prices are still extremely affordable compared to the rest of the GTA – houses for sale in Ajax sell for an average of $670,313, but even
A major perk of Central Ajax is it’s very accessible for commuters; it has highway access all around as well as daily Go Trains to the Toronto downtown core, about 25 km away.
For those with families, there are plenty of wholesome weekend activities available, especially for those who like to get active – think golfing, lacrosse, canoeing, or taking in one of the many town festivals.
Southeast and Southwest Ajax: Affordable Townhomes and New Development
While Central Ajax is very well established, there’s lots of development occurring in the city’s Southeast and Southwest reaches, with a slew of traditional residential neighbourhoods sprouting up at reasonable prices. For example, says Pacquing, townhouses in the area are priced under the $550,000-range, with two-storey units in the $675,000 range. However, she points out that Southwest Ajax, in particular, offers a huge range of properties, with detached homes selling between $575,000 to over $1.1 million – all on quiet, tree-lined streets in close proximity to the GO Station, and near the 401 and new 412 highways.
Riverside Hermitage, Ajax: Established Neighbourhoods and Great Schools
One of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the municipality of Ajax and indeed all of Durham Region, Riverside Hermitage is known for its great amenities. Home to four elementary schools and Pickering High School, this mature neighbourhood also boasts a golf course and community park. Ideal for large families, you’ll find large fully detached homes on expansive lots here, typically within the $900,000 – $1-million range. Whether you’re commuting to Toronto for work or you are employed at one of the many corporations that call Ajax home, Riverside Hermitage is a conveniently located and comfortable neighbourhood.
Vanier, Oshawa: A Sports Haven
Vanier has quick access to Highway 401, great shopping, and plenty of high-quality schools, making it a great destination for families.
Oshawa has become increasingly popular in recent years, with the city’s
Oshawa homes for sale are priced at an average of about $500,000 — less than the price of a condo unit in the City of Toronto. Vanier itself has a diverse mix of renters and owners, with most of the homes built before the 1980s. Over 62% of households have kids, making it a great place for young families. Young hockey fans will love that the city has one of the best and longest established junior hockey teams in Ontario, the Oshawa Generals.
Lakeview, Oshawa: Lake-Side Living for Less
Living close to the shores of Lake Ontario can be a highly-sought feature for some; this neighbourhood offers proximity to the beach at some of the best prices in the GTA, at a sample cost of around $400,000 for a detached home. Says Pacquing, “[These properties] could be good investment if you can hold for 10 years – it’s one of the last lake front areas in GTA that hasn’t been ‘discovered’.”
Rosebank / Rougemount, Pickering: Ravine-Side Lots
Located in the most southwest corner of Durham, the neighbourhoods of Rosebank and Rougemount offer easy access to the 401 and Highway 2, making them just a hop, skip, and a jump from Toronto. they also edge the Rouge conservation area, providing a lovely ravine backdrop for majestic estate homes, and making for quiet, leafy neighbourhoods. Homes here tend to be on the higher end of the budget, says
Courtice, Clarington: Great Value on Big Lots
One big caveat to living in the Courtice community is that it’s not particularly well-situated for commuters – with no GO Transit station nearby, residents will need to rely on cars to get around. However, for those seeking more bang for their house-buying buck, it’s chock full of great value, with big, wide lots – two-car garages and four-bedroom detached houses are the norm here, going in the $500,000 – $600,000 range.
Town of Uxbridge: Great Walkability with a Heritage Feel
Uxbridge is a gem of a community, offering lots of green space and a heritage feel. It’s also extremely walkable – residents can stroll the entire town and especially the Main Street drag, which is charming in the summer, as well as take advantage of the many walking trails and forests nearby. It’s a close-knit community that’s ideal for those seeking a quieter pace of life.
Overall, Durham Region has plenty of excellent, family oriented neighbourhoods to consider, all at a much more attractive price point than anywhere else in the GTA.