A survey collected by a Canadian rate comparison website has some good news, and some bad news for North Bay.
The city was ranked 48th, ahead of Sudbury but behind the Soo in the 166 city list of Canada's most livable places.
The Livability Report ranks areas based on affordability, growth potential, and lifestyle.
A hidden gem in the report is that our population may benefit from homebuyers fleeing big cities like the Greater Toronto and Ottawa Areas, because COVID has significantly impacted the decisions on where to live.
Of the 12 per cent of Canadians who plan to purchase or have already purchased a primary residence since April 2020, almost a quarter of them considered COVID-19 when making major decisions and 21 per cent of homebuyers have moved or plan to move from a major city hub to a small town or rural area.
But it lists North Bay's growth rate at only 0.2 per cent. That's well below Mayor Al McDonald's goal of increasing the city's population by 10,000 by the year 2028 made during the last election.
RATESDOTCA found that inaccessible housing prices plague many Canadian metropolitan areas and 61 per cent of homebuyers cite affordability as a key criterion when deciding to relocate.
In the survey, the Soo ranks 39, Wasaga Beach is 44, Collingwood 52, Bracebridge 56, Cochrane 64, Thunder Bay 68, Sudbury 99, Huntsville 132, and Orillia 141.
Langford, B.C., was named the most liveable city in Canada.
North Bay’s average home price is $270,400 with a mortgage payment of $1,128. Average home prices increased by 26.1 per cent as of Dec. 31, 2020.
The minimum income required to live in North Bay is $57,198.
North Bay got 3/5 stars for scenery but only 2/5 for nightlife, 4/5 for outdoor activity, and 1/5 for climate. The report characterized North Bay as, "A working-class town on Lake Nipissing, with great sunsets and boating in the summer."
“Canada has some incredible hidden gems if you’re relocating for a change in lifestyle – places people seldom think about,” said Robert McLister, mortgage editor at RATESDOTCA.
“We set out to discover which of these areas have the best combination of affordability, economic momentum and livability.”
The comparison website looked to the data they gathered from the online survey of 1,514 Canadians, conducted by Leger Marketing from Jan. 22 to Jan. 24, to build the parameters for the report.
For example, 51 per cent of Canadians who moved in 2020 due to COVID-19 did so to be closer to nature and 36 per cent felt financial pressure to find a cheaper home.
The report examines factors like home price growth and mortgage costs, as well as economic and quality of life factors such as promising growth trends, amenities, and climate. Attributes like proximity to mountains and major bodies of water, outdoor activities and nightlife were also considered.
Data was taken from StatsCan, real estate boards, and municipal estimates for things like population growth and average home price, while subjective ratings were gathered for things like scenery and climate.
RATESDOTCA then produced a numerical ranking of each city based on an internal scoring algorithm that analyzed almost 10,000 data points using a formula that awards points for positives like a growing population, low mortgage costs, and scenic beauty, to name a few criteria. All cities and towns were compared to each other with some ratings.
“Our first ranked city, Langford, B.C., got high marks for growth, affordability (particularly relative to other BC hotspots), property tax costs, desirable climate and proximity to spectacular nature,” said McLister.