SURVEY: New Aviva Canada report shows 1 in 3 Canadians are considering relocating and other plans for how they will live during and post pandemic

The How We Live Report provides a snapshot of perceived property values, plans to buy/sell/move, completed or planned renovations, possessions added to Canadian homes and commuter habits

June 17, 2021 (Toronto, Ontario) – Released today, the How We Live Report looks at results from a national survey conducted for Aviva Canada by Leger Canada that asked Canadians across the country about their lives and aspirations along with additional data sources relating to current and post COVID-19 habits. The report shows that Canadians are considering moving to more rural locations, prioritizing backyard renovations, but are not protecting their homes as much as they should – despite spending more time in them than ever before. The complete report can be viewed here.

“The past year has been one like no other, with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to be felt across the world, in our communities, and our homes,” says Phil Gibson, Managing Director, Personal Insurance & Data Science at Aviva Canada. “This report examines different facets of our lives in these times and how people have adapted – and not just temporarily. It shows that for many, they hope that some of these changes will be more permanent, truly changing how we live.”

Top categories and findings from the report include:

1. Property values and buying/selling aspirations

-         31% of Canadians are considering relocating as a result of the pandemic, with over one third of these considering moving to a semi-rural or rural location.

-         The need to find an affordable home was the number one driving force behind unexpected buying (29%) and selling (25%) of homes or starting a new, unplanned rental tenancy (29%) during the pandemic.

-         Canadians are more hopeful than realistic when it comes to purchasing their first home, with 54% indicating their plans to buy, sell or move has been delayed by at least a year.

-         Most Canadians have an accurate understanding of the value of their home – particularly in the hot markets of Ontario and Quebec.

-         When homeowners are asked about the impact of COVID-19 on the value of their properties, Canadians continue to be optimistic. Over half of homeowners (55%) believe their house has actually increased in value since the start of the pandemic.

Gibson says: “As Canadians consider moving to completely different areas and away from large cities, this may come with some surprises. Not only are crickets much louder at night than you might expect, but there’s more to think about than just the mortgage and property taxes, because there are insurance considerations when it comes to rural vs. urban properties. The age of the home, its proximity to fire hydrants or firehalls, and flood risk are all factors that insurers take into account.”

2. Renovations and home improvements

-         In the last year, 17% of Canadians improved their home space through renovations, with the most popular renovation being backyard changes.

-         Canadian homeowners who renovated in the past year spent an average of $4,525. The priciest home changes on average included adding an addition to their home, renovating their backyard, renovating their basement to add an entertainment space, and renovating to add a work from home office, with average spend of $10,800, $6,222, $3,789 and $2,796 respectively.

-         In the next 12 months, 13% of Canadians plan to make changes to their home through renovations. Of this group, two thirds will renovate their backyard, while the remainder will renovate their basement to add an entertainment area/additional living space. Canadians with children under 18 living at home are twice as likely (36%) to be considering a renovation compared to those without children under 18 (18%).

-         Only a third of those who made changes to their home hired someone to complete the work, with most tackling it themselves. Of those who made changes, 40% have updated or intend to inform their insurance provider about these changes, and while over half said they don’t need to.

Gibson says: “With people spending so much time at home last year, it’s no surprise Canadians are changing their spaces to fit their current needs. For those planning to make major changes to their home, they should know that renovations like finishing a basement, removing structural supports or building an addition, could impact their insurance coverage. These renovations may change the home’s rebuild value. It’s always good practice to check in with your insurance broker or agent when considering renovations so you are adequately covered.”

3. Possessions and protection measures

-         30% of Canadians state they purchased a computer as result of lockdown, followed by 28% who purchased new home décor and 26% who purchased things like toys, TV subscriptions and video game consoles to help entertain kids. An additional 22% of Canadians have purchased new communication technology such as mobile phones and headsets.

-         Most Canadians have not implemented additional proactive security measures to help protect their homes against events like weather catastrophes and home invasions. Aside from preparedness for a fire with items like fire alarms and fire extinguishers, less than 25% of Canadians have other protective measures in place such as a home security system, video surveillance (indoor and/or outdoor) and water detection systems.

-         20% of Canadians under age 35 say that they have installed video or camera security outside their house and almost 13% say they use smart doorbells.

Gibson says: “With increased severe weather events and overland water damage being the top cause of loss, I encourage Canadians to consider leveraging technology to keep their homes safe. Canadians should talk to their broker or agent to understand if there are discounts available to them if they have smart devices to help alert them to water leaks, backflow valves to automatically stop sewer backup or security systems to protect their homes.”

4. Transportation habits and the future of the commute

Many Canadians have purchased new vehicles and are hesitant to start using public transit in the future. While the reduction in driving is temporary, Canadians attitudes towards public transportation may have permanently changed due to COVID-19 impacting the ways in which people view commuting in the future.

-         Close to 60% of Canadians state they are either not at all likely, or unlikely to use public transportation or ride-sharing services in the future and are much more likely to use their own vehicle for transportation.

-         One in five Canadians state they feel transportation habits will be affected as company work from home protocols change post COVID-19.

-         In 2020, saw the demand for vehicles increase across the country with 8% of Canadians stating they have purchased a new or used car in the past three months and an additional 15% looking to purchase a new or used car in the next six months.


Notes to editors

  • The survey was conducted by Leger through an online survey with 2,506 Canadians, 18 years of age and older, who currently own homes or rent in Canada. The survey was carried out between March 15-23, 2021.  The results are considered accurate within plus or minus 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
  • Transportation insights included in the report come from an Aviva commissioned Pollara Survey on Consumer Behaviour in Canada, carried out in January 2021.
  • View the full report here:

About Aviva Canada

Aviva Canada is one of the leading property and casualty insurance groups in the country, providing home, automobile, lifestyle, and business insurance to 2.4 million customers. A subsidiary of UK-based Aviva plc, Aviva Canada has more than 4,000 employees focused on creating a bright and sustainable future for our people, our customers, our communities and our planet. Launched in 2019, Aviva Canada is investing in safer communities through Aviva Take Back Our Roads, which uses data driven solutions and strategic collaborations to make safer roads a reality for all. In 2021, we announced our plan to become a net zero carbon emissions company by 2040, the most demanding target of any major insurance company in the world.

For more information, visit or Aviva Canada’s blogTwitterFacebook and LinkedIn pages.




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Janis McCulloch
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