6-in-10 Canadians who relocated during the pandemic cited COVID-19 as an influence
Aviva Canada’s ‘How We Live’ report is a revealing glimpse at post-pandemic life
June 28, 2022 - TORONTO, ON – Canadians who didn’t relocate and aren’t working remotely could be driving more than before the pandemic, a new Aviva Canada report shows.
And as the housing market begins to show signs of slowing amid rising interest rates, about half of Canadian homeowners think the value of their home is higher than it actually is.
Those are just two of the revealing findings in Aviva Canada’s second How We Live Report, a national survey that quizzed Canadians about their lives and aspirations during and post-pandemic. The complete report can be viewed here.
“We’re starting to see the boomerang effect of the pandemic in terms of the distances people are driving,” says Phil Gibson, EVP and Managing Director, Personal Insurance at Aviva Canada. “Consumer driving distances dropped when COVID-19 first struck, due to work from home. But now return to work has translated into driving greater distances than before. It’s just one example of how Aviva’s second How We Live Report shows that Canadians’ perspectives continue to shift as we adjust to post-pandemic life.”
Top categories and findings from the report include:
1. Property values and buying/selling aspirations
- Among Canadians who relocated during the pandemic, 60% cited COVID-19 as an influence, with those working from home (26%) flocking to the suburbs or small towns.
- The dream of homeownership is still alive for Canadians: 32% are currently living in their first home (compared to 22% in 2020). Over half of those respondents are between the ages of 25-44.
- Last year, homeowners had a fairly accurate understanding of the value of their home. This year, skyrocketing housing prices have resulted in Canadians overestimating the value of their home – especially in hot markets like Ontario where homeowners estimated 53% higher than the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
- When homeowners were asked if their home has increased in value since March 2021, Canadians remain optimistic. Most homeowners (81%) believe their property has increased in value (compared to 55% last year). Regionally, homeowners in Ontario and Quebec are much more likely to indicate this.
Gibson says: “Whatever the reason Canadians are choosing to move to more remote areas, special attention should be paid to areas known for windstorms and/or hail. Additionally, the presence of wildlife is a factor as it can impact the natural deterioration of a home. When moving to more rural areas, Canadians should always contact their insurance representative to ensure they have the right coverage for the additional protection required.”
2. Renovations and home improvements
- Fewer Canadians are renovating. In the last year, 11% of Canadians improved their home space through renovations, compared to 17% the year prior. Changes to the backyard remains the most popular renovation.
- Canadians are spending roughly the same amount on renovations year-over-year. In 2021, Canadian homeowners who renovated spent an average of $4,500, just $25 less than the average spend in 2020.
- Of those who renovated, Canadians working from home spent on average $1,000 more. They spent twice as much adding a playroom to their home, compared to those who returned to the workplace. Not all home improvements were planned for Canadians – 14% of those who renovated say they renovated their home on impulse during the pandemic. Some homeowners regret renovating, saying they didn’t use the space as much as they expected (8%) and spent too much on renovations (7%).
Gibson says: “When considering making renovations to your home, it’s always a good idea to ensure you have a plan in place. Canadians looking to make major changes to their home should know that renovations like finishing a basement, removing structural supports, or building an addition may impact their insurance coverage as they can change the home’s rebuild value. Your insurance representative can help ensure that your home is covered for its true value, giving you peace of mind should the unexpected happen.”
3. Possessions and protection measures
- 47% of Canadians purchased new home décor during the pandemic, followed by 43% who bought new cooking equipment and 41% who purchased new technology for their home.
- Despite spending on items within the home, 28% of Canadians say they currently don’t know what their content insurance covers.
- When thinking about the possessions they bought during the pandemic, 18% of Canadians say they made impulse purchases. Of the purchases made, 24% use their fitness items less than expected, 21% say the same about the voice-activated assistant they bought, 18% aren’t using the hobby equipment they bought, and 18% are not using their gaming equipment/streaming services as often as anticipated.
Gibson says: “Your home is your sanctuary. With all the changes and updates Canadians have made, it’s important to make sure that your home is insured to value, and that includes the contents within. You might be surprised to learn that many underestimate the value of their possessions in their home. Often, items like jewelry may need special coverage. Talk to your insurance representative if you are unsure about what your contents insurance covers to ensure you have adequate coverage.”
4. Transportation and working habits
- 18% of Canadians say their transportation habits have changed since COVID-19.
- Driving has become more popular among Canadians. Many who aren’t currently driving are anticipating using a motorized vehicle in the next year (54%), and 23% of Canadians are expecting their mileage to increase.
- More than half of Canadians are choosing to use their own vehicle for transportation (52%), followed by walking (14%), taking a bus (12%) or taking the subway (8%).
- Since the beginning of 2022, 47% of the Canadian workforce state that they had fully returned to a designated workspace, 25% say they adopted the hybrid model, while 28% are now working permanently from home. Those in Ontario are more likely to work from home full-time (32% vs. 23% for the rest of Canada).
- Older Canadians reportedly enjoy returning to the workplace more than their younger counterparts. 61% of those aged 18-34 who returned to working in-person stated they found it difficult to concentrate and adjust to normal working conditions – this is 7% higher than the average Canadian.
With gas prices soaring and more Canadians saying they are returning to the roads and anticipating future use of vehicles increasing over the next 12 months, one way Canadians can save is through usage-based insurance like Aviva Journey, which uses drivers’ driving data to tailor their insurance premiums based on how well they drive.*
Gibson says: “We know consumers want more choices and influence over the rates they pay. The Aviva Journey app gives trip scores on every trip taken, and consistently updates the potential renewal discount drivers can receive so there’s never a surprise for the customer. Aviva Journey truly allows drivers to take control of their auto premiums by understanding how to drive more safely and how it impacts their insurance premium.”
Note to editors
- The survey 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 – April 5, 2022. The results are considered accurate within plus or minus 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
- 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 aviva.ca or Aviva Canada’s blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
*Note: Media may arrange interviews by contacting: