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Pandemic most cited factor for recently relocated Canadians, survey shows

For some Canadians, the return to work has translated into driving greater distances than before.
moving boxes
Car commute times are expected to rise again as pandemic measures, such as work-from-home policies, lift, a new survey suggests.

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed more Canadians to move over the past two years than any other factor, says a new national survey.

Sixty per cent of respondents who moved since the onset of the pandemic said COVID-19 influenced their decision to pack everything up and relocate, according to a report from insurance company Aviva Canada.

For many, that meant leaving city life behind — over a quarter of those working from home said they flocked to the suburbs or small towns. 

"This is especially true for younger homeowners in Alberta and British Columbia, who are moving towards rural regions, likely due to less affordable housing in urban or suburban regions," the report states.

Nearly a third of those who moved because of the pandemic cited a more desirable location, remote work and a change of job as their main reasons for moving.

The survey also revealed some interesting changes in how people move in their day-to-day lives. 

Since the pandemic, 18 per cent of Canadians say their transportation habits have changed. Driving has become more popular among Canadians; over half of those who aren't currently driving are anticipating using a car in the next year, while 23 per cent of Canadians are expecting their mileage to increase. 

More than half of respondents said they'll be using their own vehicle for transportation, followed by walking (14 per cent), taking a bus (12 per cent) or taking the subway (eight per cent). 

Meanwhile, since the start of 2022, 47 per cent of the Canadian workforce state that they had fully returned to a designated workspace, 25 per cent say they adopted the hybrid model, while 28 per cent are now working permanently from home, according to the survey.

There are also realizations among consumers who changed their spending habits at home.

“When thinking about the possessions they bought during the pandemic, 18 per cent of Canadians say they made impulse purchases. Of the purchases made, 24 per cent use their fitness items less than expected, 21 per cent say the same about the voice-activated assistant they bought, 18 per cent aren't using the hobby equipment they bought, and 18 per cent are not using their gaming equipment/streaming services as often as anticipated,” Aviva Canada said in a press release.

The poll — dubbed How We Live — was conducted by Leger through an online survey with 2,500 Canadians, 18 years of age and older, who currently own homes or rent in Canada. The survey was carried out between March 18 and April 5, 2022. The results are considered accurate within plus or minus two percentage points, or 19 times out of 20.

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