Living in Durham Region has a lot of advantages for its residents. Proximity to Toronto, with a lower real estate price tag, beautiful parks, ample recreation spaces and loads of art and cultural centers provides a number of well-rounded cities.
Located within the Golden Horseshoe, the Regional Municipality of Durham, is a mix of rural, residential, agricultural and commercial areas. The municipalities that make up the region are varied, however, many see a mix of all areas throughout each town.
This guide serves as an informative look at what Durham Region offers and why it has been a growing destination for those looking to settle down and establish roots. Cities such as Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa and Pickering feature family-friendly neighbourhoods, well-rated schools and city amenities that cater to all walks of life
Where and who?
Durham Region, technically known as the Regional Municipality of Durham, is an area located in Southwestern Ontario near the city of Toronto making up the east-end area of the Greater Toronto Area.
Cities included within Durham Region, in order of size, are the City of Oshawa, Town of Whitby, Town of Ajax Municipality of Clarington, City of Pickering, Township of Scugog, Township of Uxbridge and Township of Brock.
The Regional Municipality of Durham was originally established in 1974 and was set out to look a bit different than it does today. For instance, Pickering was to be part of Metropolitan Toronto and the borders were not going to extend as far as the Township of Brock.
Durham Region Real Estate
Durham region offers a wide mix of real estate options throughout the 8 municipalities it covers. When compared to neighbouring cities such as Toronto, Mississauga and Vaughan, prices are much more affordable.
Depending on which cities one is looking at, prices will differ. Areas such as Whitby, Oshawa, Ajax, and Pickering are slightly higher than other areas like Township of Brock and Municipality of Clarington.
Whitby has an average list price of $657K and acts as a bedroom city to Toronto housing many commuters. Ajax, one of the fastest-growing cities in the GTA, comes in slightly lower with an average price of $630K. Pickering, designated as one of the Province of Ontario’s urban growth centers, averages housing prices of $679K and Oshawa, which is the most reasonably priced is the mid $500k range.
With the prices for homes in Toronto skyrocketing, major cities such as the above are being considered as alternative destinations for those looking to purchase property in the GTA.
Things to Do
There are so many things to see and do throughout the Durham Region. One of the most notable benefits of the area is that many of the cities, specifically Whitby, Ajax, Oshawa, Pickering, and Clarington, are located along the shores of Lake Ontario.
Miles of shorelines provide scenic trails, ports and waterfront businesses. Areas such as Fishermans Bay, located in Pickering, feature lakeside walkways, complete with restaurants, entertainment and even a splash pad to be enjoyed during the summer months. Over in Whitby, the Port Whitby Marina is the main attraction and boasts a stunning lounge to be used by visitors.
The Waterfront trail, which is a 1400 km trail that runs along the Canadian shores of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and the Niagara, Detroit, and St. Lawrence Rivers, is accessible in cities that run along Lake Ontario. Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, and Oshawa enjoy miles of trail along the shores of Lake Ontario.
Throughout the municipalities that make up Durham Region, there are hundreds of parks and green spaces that are maintained by each independent city. Enjoy time at the Greenwood Conservation Area in Ajax which is over 700 acres of natural forestry and beauty. Spend time wandering through the trails or relaxing with a family picnic.
With so many residents of Durham Region being commuters to Toronto, access to public transportation is an important factor when determining where they choose to purchase a home. Due to the high volume of commuters, the Durham Region has heavily invested in the transportation sector and provides ample ways for travellers to get where they need to go.
The Durham Region is well connected, not only to the downtown and business districts of Toronto, but also to neighbouring cities and counties.
Durham Region is surrounded by a number of major roadways and highways which enables independent travel quickly to surrounding areas. For inner-city transit, the Durham Transit Authority runs buses to all areas of town.
A popular transportation method for commuters within the Durham Region is the GO Train system. The GO Train connects cities such as Whitby, Oshawa, Ajax and Pickering with Toronto’s Union Square as well as other stops and areas.
Durham Region Neighbourhoods
When searching throughout Durham Region for a home, there are numerous neighbourhoods that provide options for families, seniors, and young professionals alike. Finding a neighbourhood that best suits your needs is crucial to adjusting to a new area. From quiet and family-friendly suburban areas to trendy, downtown neighbourhoods, the cities that makeup Durham Region feature it all.
Bluegrass Meadows, Whitby:
Located in the Eastern part of the city, Bluegrass Meadows offers a varied market for housing styles. The average price from real estate in the neighborhood is slightly higher than the city average coming in around $607K. The area provides ample amenities with 15 parks and 6 schools in the vicinity.
Amberlea is a neighborhood located in the southwest portion of Pickering. A family-friendly neighbourhood, Amberlea is made up of mainly detached, single family homes. Nearly all residents of the area, 92%, own their homes. The neighborhood consists of 1 secondary school, 4 elementary schools, 5 parks and a tot lot, which may be one of the reasons it is a sought after area for young families. The average price for a home in the Amberlea neighborhood is roughly $870,000.
McLaughlin is considered a popular neighbourhood in Oshawa as it balances affordability and amenities. Central to major roadways is a draw for commuters and access to necessary amenities is beneficial for its residents. Also nearby is the Oshawa Golf and Curling Club and the Oshawa Center Mall. There is a wide mix of real estate available within McLaughlin with an average list price of $500,000.
In the North end of Ajax is the neighbourhood of Riverside. A family-friendly community, Riverside is made up of primarily single family, detached homes and attracts families looking to raise children in a quiet and safe suburban setting. Located along the Riverside Golf and Country Club, the neighbourhood offers scenic surroundings. Residents enjoy quick access to major roadways as well as city amenities. The average price of real estate in Riverside is $850,000.
Education is an important factor when considering a move to a new area. Families want to ensure their children will have access to well-rated schools and ample resources. The schools located with the Region of Durham are staffed by caring and invested teachers who strive to help each student excel academically.
The English language public schools located within the Region of Durham, with the exception of the Municipality of Clarington, are governed by the Durham District School Board. Schools within Clarington are operated by the Karawatha Pine Ridge District School Board.
Throughout the cities, the Durham District School Board oversees a total of 131 schools and actively promotes their motto “ignite learning”.
The Durham Catholic School Board operates the English speaking Catholic Schools throughout the Region.
There are a large number of private education schools within each of the cities, from private academies to religious-based schools.
Durham Region has no shortage of amenities located throughout the cities to ensure the families and individuals that reside in the area have access to plenty of recreation facilities, public libraries, arts, and cultural centers and much more.
Some notable amenities throughout Durham Region include:
Ajax Creative Arts - Established in 1966, Ajax Creative Arts is a fine arts association that offers classes, exhibits and education for art enthusiasts of all ages.
Pickering Recreation Complex - The Pickering Recreation Complex is a one stop shop for those looking to remain active and engaged. Housing a community skating rink, swimming pool, tennis courts and squash courts, residents enjoy the recreation complex on a routine basis.
Whitby Public Library - Considered a doorway to discovery, the Whitby Public Library offers all the services of a traditional library as well as events, classes and activities for residents of all ages. From children’s story times to seniors book clubs, the library acts as a meeting ground for all.
Tribute Community Center, Oshawa - Set in the heart of downtown Oshawa, the Tribute Community Center is a multi-purpose arena that is home to the Ontario Hockey League team, the Oshawa Generals. With a capacity of 7,300 attendees, the arena also hosts a number of events, shows, acts and concerts.
Things to Celebrate
There are plenty of opportunities to celebrate and attend festivals and activities throughout the Region of Durham. With the 8 Municipalities all hosting various events throughout the year, there seems to be something going on at all times.
Trailfest - Ajax
Enjoy a day outside enjoying the beautiful scenic trails within Ajax. The city offers a free BBQ and family friendly events for attendees.
Canada Day Celebration - Pickering
The city of Pickering celebrates Canada Day with a bang! A day time festival complete with children’s activities, delicious food, cold drinks, live music and a number of vendors is enjoyed by the many who enjoy this yearly event. In the evening all eyes are on the sky with fireworks lighting up the night!
Music in the Park - Whitby
Throughout July and August the town of Whitby hosts a weekly, free concert in Rotary Centennial Park. Grab some friends and a blanket and take in the local talent!
Peony Festival - Oshawa
Oshawa is home to one of Canada’s largest collections of Peonies and proudly displays them during an annual festival. The festival has been part of the Top 100 Events and Festivals in Ontario for the past seven years! Gaze at the over 300 varieties of peonies while enjoying a glass of wine and live music.
There are plenty of options and variety when considering the vast amount of restaurants, pubs, cafes and bistros that are dotted throughout the Durham Region. Each city and municipality of homes to an eclectic restaurant scene that provides plenty of choices.
Some of the best restaurants throughout the Durham Region:
Located on Brock Street in Whitby, The Lake Grill serves up mouth watering seafood and steak. Owner and chef Mendoza, likens cooking to painting, spending time creating a masterpiece for patrons to enjoy. Fresh ingredients complimented by an extensive bar and wine list have made The Lake Grill a hot spot for the Durham Region.
On the watersedge in Pickering, PORT restaurant offers a unique menu with fresh and tasty ingredients. American fare reimagined, PORT serves a number of familiar meals with their personal twist. Recently renovated, PORT provides a comfortable and contemporary setting to enjoy an intimate meal.
Set within a historic home, Casa Verde Ristorante in Ajax is the go to place for authentic Italian cuisine. The unique setting, complete with a cozy patio, serves traditional Italian meals made with fresh ingredients. Finish off your entree with a delicious dessert or a speciality coffee.
Quickly becoming a neighbourhood and then a city favourite, Berry Hill Food Company is a trendy eatery serving an all day menu complete with cocktails. Their farm to table approach and locally sourced ingredients ensure that each menu item is as fresh as can be!