The Changing Landscape of Canadian Farms

The Changing Landscape of Canadian Farms

What is Causing the Change to Canadian Farmland?

The total number of farms in Canada has been decreasing since 1941.

According to the latest Census of Agricultural data (2021), in just 5 years (since 2016) the number of farms has decreased by 1.6% and farmable area by 3.4% across the country. 

Changing Number of Farms in Canada - Historic Graph

To put that into acres, the total farmable area has fallen from 158 million acres reported in 2016 to 153 million acres as of the 2021 census.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) cited a loss of 319 acres of farmland per day in Ontario during this 5 year period. Naturally, I wanted to see how this calculation compared out to other important farming provinces.

If we look at the change in farmable land from the 2016 Census of Agriculture to the 2021 Census of Agriculture, we see that: 

  • Alberta has been loosing almost 600 acres per day since 2016.
  • Manitoba 283 acres per day.
  • British Columbia 412 acres per day and
  • Saskatchewan over 700 acres per day.

For how we arrived at this numbers take Alberta as an example:

2016 Acres: 50,250,183, 2021 Acres: 49,157,232


50,250,183 – 49,157,232 = 1,092,951

Divided by 5 YEARS = 218,5900

218,5900 / 365 days
= 599 acres per day. 

Smaller farming provinces like Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland & Labrador aren’t loosing nearly as much.


To look at Canada from the outside as a land mass, you would think that we have more than enough land to accommodate all of our farming needs and urban sprawl with room to spare.

Yet this is far from the truth and the landscape of Canadian farmland is changing drastically.

From east to west Canada has some of the most versatile and rich agricultural land in the world, with Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan & Quebec being home to a large chunk of that.

Some who don’t know the geography of our country claim that we should be looking further north in Ontario to increase our farmable land area while accommodating urban sprawl closer to our existing urban centres.

However, as pointed out by the Dominion Review (John Meyer), although there are spots of useable farmland, “most northern ground is Canadian Shield, permafrost and muskeg … with “very little agricultural potential and any good soil requires huge energy and fertilizer inputs”.

I think we all have an idea about why farmland is dwindling but let’s dig into a few major contributing factors.

1. Urban Sprawl

One big issue eating up our farmland is urban sprawl.

“For every million people we add to Canada’s population, we lose 530 square kilometers of prime farmland near our large urban areas” – Canadians for a Sustainable Society.

Much of the urban sprawl is happening on farmland closest to cities. This graph put together by Charles Brockman of the CBC shows the majority of the conversion of farmland into urban settlement is happening in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Conversion of arable land  to settlement - happening primarily near  major urban areas.

Urban sprawl has been happening on a large scale in an attempt to keep up with our exploding population. Yet, we are still experiencing housing supply and affordability issues. 

Among the G7 countries, Canada has the lowest average housing supply per capita with 424 units per 1,000 people.

You might be asking how it is possible that this urban sprawl can take place on agricultural land – most of which is zoned agricultural.

Surely by-laws for an agriculturally zoned property only allow for a single detached dwelling, outbuildings and a possible accessory dwelling for labour accomodations.

Sadly these by-laws don’t mean anything to some.

Developers with deep pockets seem to easily sway municipalities and local governments into accepting a zoning change, allowing them to change its use and develop the land.

But, there is another avenue some well connected developers have been using.

Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs).

An MZO is a provision included in a Province’s planning laws (e.g. Ontario Planning Act) that gives the provincial government and municipalities the authority to override the typical planning  and zoning protocols when considering the use of a piece of land. 

Although planning laws in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan allow for similar provisions to be used, as of the 2021 Auditor General’s Report: Land-Use Planning in the GGHS, no such provision had been used in these provinces. If you know of any, please email us here. 

This provision was included for “situations of extraordinary urgency”. However, in recent years this tool has been misused to allow urban sprawl on farmland and wetlands. Often done without public or environmental consultation.

According to the same report, from 2019 to 2021, 44 MZO’s were issued (double the total number issued in the past 18 years).

All were issued for residential, commercial and industrial uses (5 being pandemic related) and not a single MZO was issued to conserve natural heritage or agriculture land as had been done in the past.

Of this 44, 18 MZO’s were issued on lands zoned agricultural.

Does this seem hard to believe? Well we have a few (of many) examples to share below.  

1. Caledon – Old School Rd & Chinguacousy Rd (Brookvalley Phase 3)
4,550 dwellings

Granted MZO over the express opposition of Peel Region. If constructed as approved, this would enrich landowners connected to political donors with very strong ties to the government (Project Management Inc, Conservatory Group, Fieldgate Developments, Laurier Homes, Mattamy Homes, and Paradise). – Source

2. Niagara Falls8656 Mountain Road
Farmland to Golf Course

Some reports say this golf course will be built on good farmland, others say the farmland is not good but the proposal does require significant woodlands and watercourses to be protected and at least it will look like Greenspace???

3. New Tecumseth – Beeton – MZO approved to Flato Inc.
995 housing units & neighbourhood commercial space.

This is just a few examples – you can visit the map show below by clicking here to view information an locations of these MZO’s.


Urban sprawl doesn’t just include the building of residential neighbourhoods. With this sprawl comes other infrastructure projects such as commercial spaces, supporting facilities, industrial areas and more roads – all requiring a large amount of space. 

2. Investment & Consolidation

The price of farmland is on the rise and has been for some time.

According to FCC’s most recent annual report (2023), Farmland prices across Canada have increased, on average, by about 9.1% annually for the last decade. From 2022 to 2023 price per acre nationally increased by 11.5%, down slightly from the pervious years 12.8% increase.

In case that isn’t crystal clear – it is still very expensive to buy farmland.

PRICE PER ACRE - Stats Canada & FCC.

Canadian Farmland Price Per Acre – Stats Canada & FCC.

Christie Young of FarmLink stated, “If you’re a new farmer who’s trying to buy a piece of land and pay for it by working the land, it’s almost an impossible proposition,”

While those looking to expand existing farms look at financing options as a way to acquire more but often need a decent equity base to do so.

Not to mention the high cost of farm vehicles, machinery and other equipment that will be required.

Well established farms, businesses and investors continue to buy up farms to add to their operations which could be contributing to the 1.9% decrease in the number of farms from 2016 (193,492 farms) to 2021 (189,874 farms).

While there has been a 23% decrease in individual farms over the last 20 years, the size of farms has increased across the country.

In 2001 the average Canadian farm was ~ 676 acres compared to ~ 809 acres as of the most recent census (2021).  And according to Stats Canada, the average farm size has nearly doubled over the last “50 years due to consolidation and technological advantages”.

This increase in the price of farmland has been a driving factor for many investors who are looking to farm land as a stable investment with promising returns.

FCC’s vice-president and chief economist J. P. Gervais states a 15% increase in the number of non-farmer investors over the last 10 years. This includes private equity firms who fund the purchase of farmland and lease back the farms to the farmer.

According to the 2021 Agricultural Census, ~6.5% of farms are owned by non-farmers. This is up from ~5% in the last 10 years. 

One of the largest farmland investment companies, AGinvest, holds 6,000 acres of ON farmland, making about a 15% annual return since 2019.” Today, most of these companies’ websites boast fund returns of eight to 14 per cent annually” – Globe & Mail.

Many of the farmland investment companies claim to have a desire to keep the land in farming and help alleviate the financial strain on farmers, which they say has been a “saving grace” for some because of the rising price of farmland.

Some raise caution here … When profit is the main motive, stewarding the land could become secondary and a valid concern many have is that farm consolidation and investment corporations could lead to more intensive farming practices, destroying the viability of the land to grow crops or grass for livestock. If you can just turn around and sell this chunk of land to the next developer, what do the investors care about sustainability?

Of course this is not to say that every person investing in farmland feels this way and there seems to be genuinely forward thinking investment firms who don’t look at farmland in a solely speculative way like Andjelic Land, AGinvest and Equate Asset Management to name a few.

These investment firms should also not be confused with other investment firms who look at farmland as a solely speculative play with future development potential.

3. Lack of Generational & Family Farmers.

A worrying sentiment shared by many has been that we are losing both family farms and the family farmer.

An RBC report released early April 2023 reported that more than 40% of our farm operators would be retiring over the next 10 years leaving us with a shortage for farmers. Rising inflation, cost to acquire and lack of succession plans were cited as being the main reasons.

The reports solution suggests accepting 30,000 permanent immigrants by 2033 to take over existing farms and greenhouses.

This has been happening for a number of years through the various immigration programs such as the Agri-Food Pilot, Express Entry – Agriculture and Agri-food Occupations, as well as province specific programs like the AAIP (Alberta Advantage Immigration Program).

It is incredibly difficult to run and operate a successful farm, with many not being able to make a decent enough living for the next generation to be enticed to take it over.

To compete against the larger, firmly established operations is a massive feat very few want to undertake (understandably).

On this note, it is understandable that a farmer may want to cash out on his hard working by selling to a corporation or developer.

This does not mean Canadians are no longer farming, or that no young people want to get into farming but the numbers a dwindling.

As an aside – it is important to note that just because a farm is classified as a business or registered as a numbered company, it does not mean it is no longer a family farm.

4. Changing Landscapes

2020 Land Cover of Canada

Perhaps playing a small part in the decline in the number of reported farms and farmland is the change to land characteristics itself.

Some of which is hard to account for accurately. For example, a farmer may mark a wooded area once used for grazing as a forest.

As stated by Darrel Cerkowniak ( a scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), some arable land could also be “lost” as a result of flooding or re-naturalisation. 

Other factors such as soil erosion, desertification, salinization, and contamination from industrial activities could also render farmland unsuitable for farming or grazing ultimately leading to a change of its use.

Although land conversion likely only accounts for a very small portion of the reported farmland loss.

On the other hand, in areas like Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan, the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute released a report in 2022 stating an increase in crop land due to pasture, forest, and wetlands being converted for growing crops.

As the value of farmland continues to rise, existing farmers or farm owners could be converting more of their woodlands, wetlands and meadows into farmland to expand their operation on their current property to avoid buying more, or to increase the value of their land. This of course causes issues for wildlife but that is a discussion for another day.

This may account in small part to the increase in the size of farms but not farmland.

Combating Famrland Loss

While increasing the number of mouths to feed every year, we are simultaneously decreasing our farmable land and green spaces.

The need for affordable housing in Canada has been at the forefront of many Canadian minds over the last 5-10 years, depending on when you started paying attention. Of course these issues need to be addressed but the expansion of urban sprawl onto valuable farmland is short sighted.

It is not enough to say “well we will just import our food.” Excuse me but f*** that. We need to be self-sufficient as well as support our existing farmers with local availability and our economy with continued exports.

Farmland is a finite resource which alone makes it valuable and results in rising prices over time.

Those with deep pockets are reportedly helping this along. Large companies who purchase farmland and green spaces as speculative assets with plans for future development are driving prices upwards.

These types of investors should not be confused with the equity funds or other investors who purchases land to lease back to farms and have intentions of keeping farming on farmland. Although, even these types of purchases are driving the price of farmland upwards.

Prices will continue to rise for the foreseeable future making the barrier for for those looking to get in or expand even higher.

Farmers and landowners are adapting as best they can – finding ways to use more sustainable farming practices, investing in new technologies, implementing renewable energy sources on their land and exploring new ways of selling direct to consumer.

The irony of allowing our valuable natural resource to succumb to urban development seems to be lost on those living in cities demanding farmers act in a more sustainable manner while they simultaneously continue to push for more housing, more amenities and more urban sprawl.

Continuing to put an immense amount of pressure on cities and expanding them while, allowing our rural areas and natural beauty to be swallowed up is not a solution.

The 8 Best Small Towns to Buy a Home in Southern Alberta

The 8 Best Small Towns to Buy a Home in Southern Alberta

Here are our favourite places to buy a home in Southern Alberta. 

    Alberta offers some of the best rural living options in the country.

So what makes these “the best” areas?

Well of course it is subjective, some people prioritise certain lifestyles over the other. For some a quiet town close to a large city is the ideal for them, and for others (like us) a more rural way of life is preferred.

Something I think we can all agree on, is that it certainly helps when the town is situated in a beautiful spot.

On the list below we have taken into account just that.

We have also taken into account the desirability of the surrounding rural areas, variability in housing options, recreational opportunities, proximity to amenities and the potential of those areas to see a rise in property values over time.

The below are listed purely in alphabetical order and include their surrounding areas (not just the main little town).  Each place is special in its own right.

Bragg Creek  |  Canmore  |  Cardston  |  Cochrane  |  Crowsnest Pass  |  Diamond Valley  |  Okatoks  |  Pincher Creek


Bragg Creek Alberta

Average | Median Sale Price (Detached – 2024) +: $1,097,588 | $1,127,500
Proximity to Calgary: 40 Minutes
Located in: Rocky View County
Nearby Natural Areas of Interest:: Bragg Creek Provincial Park, Elbow Falls Provincial Park, Prairie Creek, Mclean Creek Provincial Park.

Bragg Creek is a gorgeous rural hamlet located about 40 minutes west of Calgary. Some refer to it as Kananaskis’ best kept secret and you can see why.

Nestled in the foothills of the Rockies, Bragg Creek is home to the meandering Elbow Creek, rolling hills, rich green coniferous trees and spectacular rural properties. The residents and visitors here have an appreciation and great respect for the surrounding natural environment. As far as recreational activities – well, look no further. Hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, skiing, sight seeing and more are on offer here.

Stop in at the “Heart of Bragg Creek” shopping area to pick up exquisite wines from the local liquor store, or grab a snack at the PowderHorn Saloon and you may even see some cowboys ride in, tie up their ponies and grab a beer. It’s a fun spot!

As far as what style of home you can expect to buy in Bragg Creek… there is a wide range of options. Expect seriously stunning log homes, mountain chalets, large acreages, modern homes to the more modest gems nestled on half an acre. Now and again you may also be able to find vacant land on which to build your dream home.

In terms of re-sale, as of 2023/2024, you’re looking at an average of about 63 days to sell. So it may not be as liquid as one may want but that won’t matter to those who are looking for a place to call home for the long term. With its close proximity to Calgary and to the mountains, you can’t go wrong buying in Bragg Creek.


CANMORE ALBERTA Rural Real Estate & Homes for sale

Average | Median Sale Price (Detached – 2024): $1,775,746  | $1,550,000
Proximity to Calgary: 1 Hour
Located in: MD of Bighorn
Nearby Natural Areas of Interest: Nordic Centre Provincial Park, Banff National Park, Bow Valley Wildland Park, Three Sisters Peak, Ha Ling Peak, Upper Kananaskis Lake.

It will come as no surprise that Canmore is on this list.

If you’ve only ever visited one place in Alberta, it was probably Banff National Park. On your way there you very likely drove through Canmore and marvelled at this quintessential mountain town.

A truly spectacular little spot tucked away on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies and boarded by the glacier-fed Bow River. Conveniently located just over an hour from Calgary but you don’t need to go that far for amenities, they are all right here.

The residents are proud of their beautiful scenery, historic downtown and outdoor adventures all culminating in a vibrant community spirit. Think a tight-knit community that fosters a sense of camaraderie, connecting with neighbours and gathering at the Canmore Mountain Market in the summer and fall months.

Surrounded by lush forests and mountain peaks, you won’t have a hard time finding something to do outdoors. Hiking, golfing, biking, skiing, sight seeing, horseback riding and rafting are available. 

All of this beauty comes at a price though. The real estate market here can be expensive and is in high demand. Although poised to see even more suburban housing development over the next number of years, you can expect to find everything from classic mountain villas, estates, modern masterpieces to both luxury and modest homes on small lots.

On average you can expect it to take around 61 days to sell a home here as of 2024. This number is slightly skewed by the multiple high value homes ($4M +) that generally take a longer time to sell.

If you enjoy a small town vibe with all the conveniences of big town living (and of course breathtaking beauty), Canmore may be the place for you!



Average | Median Sale Price (Detached – 2024): $352,350 | $305,000
Proximity to Calgary: 2 hrs 30 minutes
Located in: Cardston County
Nearby Natural Areas of Interest: Waterton Lakes National Park,

Nestled amidst rolling hills and vast farmland, Cardston is a picturesque town with a rich pioneering heritage and a community proud of tradition. Presenting a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty all lying in the heart of the prairies.

The town’s close proximity to the stunning landscapes of Waterton Lakes National Park and the Rocky Mountains provides endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, from hiking and camping to fishing and wildlife watching.

Community is at the core for residents here, evident in the well-preserved historic buildings, charming main street and community events.   

Affordable living options are available here, as are more high end luxury acreages. Due to the rural nature of this community homes take a long time to sell here – on average we are looking at about 110 days as of 2024.

If you want a quiet life in a tranquil setting away from the big cities, Cardston is worth exploring.


Cochrane Alberta Rural Homes

Average | Median Sale Price (Detached – 2024): $770,571  | $655,500
Proximity to Calgary: 36 minutes
Located in: Rocky View County
Nearby Natural Areas of Interest:: Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation, Ghost Lake and Bow River.

Just 37kms west of Calgary is the quaint little town of Cochrane. Sitting at the base of “Big Hill” in the Bow River Valley, and with views of the foothills and Rocky Mountains, the stunning natural beauty serves as a backdrop to everyday life here.

Cochrane has a strong and proud western heritage to go along with its pretty views, making it a little slice of paradise close to a big city.

The residents here are hospitable and welcoming, hosting various events and festivals throughout the year. Enjoying a relaxed pace of living while still having access to all the amenities they need, including boutique shops, cozy cafes, delicious dining options and basic everyday necessities.

Outdoor enthusiasts are spoiled for choice with nearby hiking trails, parks, ATV and Snow Mobile trails, making it easy to stay active and explore the picturesque surroundings.

You can snap up a nice suburban home here for a great price, especially as the once little village is seeing quite a bit of urban development! If you’re looking on the outskirts of town in a more rural area, well you might want to check in with your accountant and mortgage broker as you’ll be paying a pretty penny for an acreage out here. For fellow equestrians, this is a great spot to find a property already set up for you and your horses as well.

If you’re selling a home, as of 2024, on average it takes about 45 days to do so. Undoubtably the proximity to Calgary, while also offering expansive living opportunities makes Chochrane a very desirable place to call home.


Crowsnest Pass Rural Real Estate Alberta

Average | Median Sale Price (Detached – 2024): $399,363  |  $350,000
Proximity to Calgary: 2hrs 30 mins
Located in: Municipality of Crowsnest Pass
Nearby Natural Areas of Interest:: Crowsnest Provincial Park, Castle Provincial Park, Bob Creek Wildland, Parts of the Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve.

If you’re really looking to immerse yourself in rural living, Crownest Pass is a beautiful place to do it. In the 70s the town of Crowsnest Pass amalgamated with the nearby towns and hamlets of Bellevue, Blairmore, Coleman, Frank, and Improvement District (ID) No.5. The laid-back pace of life allows for a sense of tranquility and connection to nature that is increasingly rare in today’s world.

A testament to rugged beauty, The Pass offers an abundance of awe-inspiring scenery with towering peaks, lush forests, and pristine lakes. Once a coal mining town, the area is steeped in a rich history. If you’re driving through be sure to stop in at the Frank’s Slide Interpretive Centre for a fascinating telling of the Frank’s slide tragedy. For a good lunch, stop in at The Pass Beer Co. For incredible Pizza and a pint.

Outdoor enthusiasts will fall in love with the ample opportunities for hiking, nearby skiing opportunities, fishing in crystal-clear streams, biking, ATV and snowmobiling adventures, horseback riding, golfing and more!

The sense of community runs deep in The Pass, where neighbours come together to celebrate local events, support small businesses, and preserve the area’s unique heritage and natural surroundings.

Now, the average and median sales price is on the lower side, but if you are looking to buy a rural home or a home on acreage, you should expect to pay upwards of $700,000 for this, and more for if the property comes with a mountain view, which many do.  Time to sell is a littler slower here with the average being 66 days.

Although you may have to drive a bit of a distance to larger stores, mountain living and stunning surrounding come at a decent price in The Pass and boy is the driving worth it for those views!


Diamond Valley Real Estate For Sale

Average | Median Sale Price (Detached – 2024): $563,741  |  $560,000
Proximity to Calgary: 50 minutes
Located in: Foothills County
Nearby Natural Areas of Interest:: Sheep River Provincial Park, Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park.

Tucked away amidst rolling hills and vast prairie landscapes, Diamond Valley epitomises the beauty of Alberta’s countryside. Formerly Turner Valley & Black Diamond separated by the Black Sheep River – the two amalgamated in January of 2023. This is a rural town about 50 minutes south of Calgary.

Residents here enjoy a tight-knit community atmosphere, where friendly neighbours quickly become like family. With a slower pace of life, Diamond Valley provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of city living, something we hope remains for many years to come.

Similar to other areas already mentioned, Diamond Valley offers extraordinary outdoor recreating. Horseback riding, sight seeing, hiking or cycling on the town’s Friendship Trail. If you’re looking for some epic views, be sure to take a drive down to the Bluerock Woodland Provincial Park area and marvel at the beautiful scenery along the way.

If tasty bites are your thing, Westwood is a MUST visit. And for the best milkshake – I would argue in the country – check out the iconic 50s style diner Marv’s Classic Soda Shop. Neither will disappoint.

You can find affordable living options here but properties don’t last long. The average days on market for 2023/2024 was about 32 days. A range of properties are available, from cute suburban gems to sprawling acreages. Horse properties and large homes with plenty of charm too.

We were hesitant to put this town on the list as we’d like to maintain the rural charm here. So be sure to only make the move here only if you are ready to embrace a rural way of life.


Okatoks Real Estate Alberta

Average | Median Sale Price (Detached – 2024): $689,432  |  $630,000
Proximity to Calgary: 33 minutes
Located in: Foothills County
Nearby Natural Areas of Interest:: Various Woodlands & Wetlands

The perfect balance between small-town living with all modern amenities you need, just 30 minutes south of Calgary. Nestled along the Sheep River Valley with stunning views of the Rocky Mountains and acres of sprawling farmland, Okotoks boasts a picturesque setting that you’ll adore.

This is a growing community that has seen a lot of urban development over the last numbers of years. As both Calgary and Okatoks expand, it is starting to feel like Okatoks is becoming a suburb of Calgary. You have access to all the amenities you need here as well as good schools and safe neighbourhoods – it is easy to see why this area is vastly becoming a top choice for families.

Despite development, residents and the township have implemented green initiatives and commitment to preserving green spaces. Plus, there are numerous opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with multiple golf courses and extensive pathways for hiking and biking in the beautiful surroundings.

A mix of housing opportunities are available in Okatoks. In town you can find newly built homes on large lots, older homes in need of some TLC and everything in between. On the outskirts of town, you can find impressive, high end homes with postcard views of the mountains, timber frame beauties and picturesque farms.

It doesn’t take long to sell a home here. As of 2024, the average days on market sits at 27 days with the median being noteworthy at only 15 days.


Pincher Creek Rural Real Estate

Average | Median Sale Price (Detached – 2024): $377,974  |  $341,000
Proximity to Calgary: 2hrs 10minutes
Located in: MD of Pincher Creek No. 9
Nearby Natural Areas of Interest:: Beauvais Lake Provincial Park, Castle Wildland Provincial Park, Oldman River.

The spirit of “the west” is alive and well in the incredible rural area of Pincher Creek with a strong and thriving ranching community. Situated at the doorstep of the majestic Rocky Mountains, residents enjoy spectacular Livingstone Mountain Range, vast pastureland and pristine waterways.

Community is at the heart of life in Pincher Creek, where friendly faces are a familiar sight. The town’s rich history is evident in its charming downtown, lined with historic buildings and local shops, where residents gather to support small businesses and connect with neighbours.

If you’re staying, make sure to hit up Pincher Creek Meats for some of THE MOST delicious “ranch to table” meat we think you’ll find anywhere. Plus every Friday they do a Brisket on a Bun that is surreal. Driving through town you’ll see deer lounging in backyards and grassy patches without a care in the world.

Pincher Creek is an adventurer’s paradise – enjoy nearby hiking, fishing, skiing, horseback riding, or simply take a drive and explore the rural roads that boast million dollar views.

Although homes are affordable here, similar to others, rural homes do come with a higher price tag. This is a rural community so although all your necessities are in town, accessing major big box stores means having to drive to Lethrbidge or Fernie in BC. As you might imagine, home take a while to sell here where 71 days is about the norm.

This is a special place. And new residents are welcoming. But it is important that those moving here know it is important to integrate into the culture, while also ensuring you maintain respect for the land, the ranchers and abundant wildlife.

If you would like to purchase a home in this region, please reach out to us.

Looking for a rural home in Ontario? Read out “The 8 Most Popular Areas to buy a home in Ontario” post here.


For the latest statistics on RURAL Home prices in Southern Alberta, be sure to read out 2023/2024 Rural Home Report [Alberta] by clicking the image below. 

Alberta Rural Home Prices - 2023/2024
Escaping the City: What Does It Really Mean to Live in a Country Home?

Escaping the City: What Does It Really Mean to Live in a Country Home?

What does it really mean to live in a country home and outside of the city? 

If you are reading this article you are likely considering what it would be like to live in the countryside, have already made the decision to do it, or are just dreaming of escaping the city and starting a new chapter of your life in the serene setting.

This can look very different from person to person.   

Some people envision a place with a small barn or workshop for hobbies, tinkering or housing their toys.  Others dream of having some animals or a big garden where they can be a little more self sufficient. We even have a few gentlemen clients that just like to smoke a cigar while riding around on their lawnmowers for a few hours on the weekend.

Then there are those that want a larger property where they can run more of an operation or business. Maybe in horses or some other livestock like cows or sheep.

We recently helped a family purchase a property where they did non of that and instead naturalized an entire section of their acreage. They planted over 2000 trees and have a trail system running through it simply for walking and enjoying their land.   

Outdoor space

There are many different reasons people desire a little more space and a lot more privacy. And a country property is exactly where you’ll find it.

Of course, it means more time outdoors, pretty scenery and quiet evenings.  But these are all examples of what people do with their properties, but there is a deeper question of what does it actually mean to them and their families. 

If you were to ask people what it truly means to them you will find its EXACTLY what YOU are searching for.


We all want some sort of connection.  Some people would hate to live in the country, they want the city, the buzz, the restaurants and all the action.  For them that is the connection they want.  Living in the country offers a deeper longing for a connection with the earth and the natural world.  This is a connection with the circadian rhythm, the seasons, the weather, the plants and animals that cohabitate with you on your property.  The chance to connect with family and friends in a more grounded environment.  This is that type of connection those living in the countryside have. 

Lower Stress Levels:

When you wake up in the morning, trade in the ever present hum of traffic, your neighbours car alarm going off, the garbage truck, the construction workers banging their hammers on the neighbours roof or the framing crew building the subdivision close by for stepping outside to hear the breeze in the trees, the symphony of birds chirping, or the gentle call of your animals as you head down for morning feeds. 

When you arrive home, you trade in awkward conversations with your neighbours for meadows and a scenery that changes with the seasons.

There is a lot of research that suggests being in nature has great positive psychological effects. A study done in 2018 showed that between 10 – 50 minutes of time spent in nature can reduce stress levels shown by a measurable reduction in cortisol – a stress producing hormone. Imagine what it can do when you live in a more natural space.

Outdoor space


When you eat a large fast food meal how do you feel?  Usually not very good, but you want to keep eating because your body isn’t getting what it needs.  How do you feel when you eat a healthy and wholesome meal?  Usually you feel satisfied!  You don’t need to over eat. You feel good because you gave your body what it needed and you feel content. 

Contentment is much easier to find when you are in an environment where you have more connection to nature, connection to family actives and lower levels of stress.  When your sitting on your porch or deck in the evening overlooking the nature on your property, hearing the crickets, the frogs, an owl or the song birds singing their final notes of the day, you can’t help but feel a sense of contentment.  The trees, the meadows, the pastures, the animals, don’t judge you for how much money you have, the clothes you wear or the car you drive. You accept things as they are and you feel accepted. This is contentment.


There is a lot of noise in the world, and no-one can avoid it completely. However, having your home be a reprieve from the urbanised world gives you a tremendous sense of peace.   

Peace in its definition means freedom from disturbance.   

There is an endless list of benefits from finding peace that range from the psychological, physiological, and spiritual.  A place to reflect, clear the mind, find your creativity, the list goes on and on. If you haven’t laid in a hammock between a couple of trees in the country side on a lazy afternoon, I highly recommend you try it, you will find peace there.

Peace comes when you find connection, lower stress levels, and are content with your life in the moment. 

This is what is really means to escape the city and live in the country.

House in the suburbs

If you have read this far then there must be a part of you that truly resonates with this vision.

The brokerage we are part of has a motto – live life on your terms. And we often talk about what that means for us, our clients and our families in our Monday morning team meetings.

On Monday we looked at the below chart. It is sobering chart and gets us every time.

It shows how much of your life you have already lived and what you have left … all laid out in plain black and white. If we didn’t know before, the chart definitely helps to show how short life can be and how precious our time is.

If you are thinking of doing something for yourself, like making an escape to the countryside, don’t wait. Start your search for your little slice of heaven and start enjoying where you live sooner rather than later.

House in the suburbs

House in the suburbs
Comparing Alberta and Ontario Rural Home Prices

Comparing Alberta and Ontario Rural Home Prices

ON vs AB Rural Home Prices.

Being licensed in two provinces has given us access to excellent information on the rural real estate market in both Alberta and Ontario.

The differences between sale prices, the number of sold listings and how long it takes to sell rural listings across both provinces has been an interesting comparison – especially in the current market climate.

Without looking at the data, most people would guess that their money would go quite a bit further out west… Well, at least in Alberta.

We broke down the average sale prices across various acreage ranges in both provinces to see how true this is.

Outdoor space

For rural type properties with .5 acres and more, Alberta came in at 5 months, and Ontario came in at about 7.3 months for the same property type. Indicating a relatively balanced market in Alberta but a much stronger buyers market in Ontario – at least for this property type.

Throughout this article it is important to remember that the rural real estate market should not be used as a representation of the entire real estate market.

For instance, OREA reported “months of inventory numbered 4.2 at the end of September 2023” in Ontario, while Alberta’s months of supply came in at 2.36 months for the same period. This paints a different picture when looking at all real estate types compared to just one sector of the real estate market. But our focus is rural so that is the information we are bringing to you!

Both Ontario and Calgary have some truly incredible rural living options.

For the sake of this article we are looking at rural properties within an hours radius of Toronto vs. Rural properties within an hours radius of Calgary.

The below data is take from the period of Jan 1 2023 – November 1st 2023.


Outdoor space


Outdoor space

None of the above data is particularly shocking.  While it would be a stretch to say Alberta is “cheap”, it certainly offers significant discounts on pricing when compared to Ontario across the board.

Looking at the above average sales prices, we see the highest number of sales in Ontario was in the 0.5 – 1.99 acre range, where as in Alberta it was in the 2 – 4.99 acre range. Interestingly,  Alberta also came in over $100,000 less for double the property size.

The largest price difference was noted on the large acreages though. At 100 acres and above. Large properties in Ontario are clearly very expensive in this acreage range by comparison, coming in at over DOUBLE that of Alberta.

The numbers above include properties that were both farmland and equestrian properties. This is an important note because it is not unusual for high end equestrian facilities to be situated on 50-100+ acres of land. These properties fetch a significant premium when they are sold and would be accounted for in the averages above.

Not only that, it is becoming more common for farmland in Ontario to sell as buildable land for subdivisions and suburban sprawl. If a piece of land within an hour radius of Toronto is developable you can bet it is going to sell for a substantial price.

Ontario had significantly more of both of these types of properties traded than Alberta did for our year-to-date data above. 

To get a better understanding of actual farm prices we looked at the 2022 FCC report – which specifically covers cultivated land, pastureland and irrigated land. Even still, we see that farmland is significantly more expensive in Ontario.

House in the suburbs

Farm Credit Canada’s Historic Values Report noted a 10% increase in Alberta’s farmland prices from 2021 to 2022. While Ontario farmland prices increased by almost double that at 19.4%. According to the same report, price per acre came in at $6,340 for Alberta in 2022. While price per acre was a whopping $17,513 in Ontario for the same year. These are Alberta and Ontario wide averages. Alberta has had a few drought years while the Ontario farmland over the last few years have produced very high yields and this would play a part in how the valuable the land is in one area compared to the other.

We all know there are a number of differences between the two provinces, many of which contribute to the difference in housing supply and prices that we see.

One huge factor is the difference in population.

House in the suburbs

Calgary, Okotoks, Airdrie and Cochrane have a combined population of approximately 1.78 Million people.  The Greater Golden Horseshoe has a population of 9.6 Million people. Simple supply and demand equation. Toronto is also the financial hub of the country.  With 9.6 Million people in and around the Greater Golden Horseshoe, you are likely going to have a greater number of higher net worth buyers with very deep pockets that can pay the premium for these property types.

Another is the difference of geography in the rural areas that are within an hour’s drive of these major cities.

The Greenbelt surrounds the city of Toronto.  Between the Greenbelt and the city there is a large chunk of suburban sprawl all the way around the lake as well, which fills in a lot of the land within an hours drive.  This in turn makes the rural properties closer to the city more expensive simply because of their proximity. Not only that, with Toronto being on Lake Ontario, the hour radius includes a large portion that is not habitable (that is, you can’t actually build on the lake). Whereas our 1 hour radius around Calgary primarily covers habitable land except for a small portion of the mountains and wilderness to the west in Provincial Park lands where your can’t build homes.

Whichever way you slice it, you get more bang for your buck in Alberta, no question about it. 

There may not be as many options to buy, but you also won’t be up against as many buyers when you find that perfect rural home.

If you are looking to buy out west – we hope you contact us first! We can take care of you here, and there, with a dedicated team and contacts already in place in both provinces.

Search Alberta Rural Homes for Sale HERE

Search Ontario Rural Homes & Equestrian Properties for Sale HERE.

Selling Your Rural Home in a Slow Market

Selling Your Rural Home in a Slow Market

Selling your rural home in a slow real estate market …

The never ending traffic delays on the QEW had me re-routing my trip to what I call the “scenic route” home.

Driving down White Church Rd E, and onto Silver Street I noticed the many “For Sale” signs along those roads. I’ve been frustrated enough by the traffic to take these roads many times and the number of FOR SALE signs was out of the ordinary.

I got home, opened my laptop curious to see how long some of these beautiful looking properties had been sitting for. The averages? 76 days, 112 days, 67 days…

It is no secret we are in a slow market… many are electing not to make any big purchases right now because of the state of the economy and sitting tight in their current homes instead.

The days of throwing your house up on the market in an “as is” state are gone (or should be). If you want to be competitive in selling your home, this is our advice.

1. Does your house stand out?

The hard reality is – your house probably isn’t as special as you might think. A hard thing for any sentimental home seller to hear.  We love our home too and think it is better than our neighbours but realistically if we were to sell, we would have to think… what does our house really have that is better than the next best alternative?

This might be more so the case in the suburbs but the difference between your 5 acre property and the 5 acre property down the road is starting to matter less to buyers unless the home offers something that they feel is valuable to them.

Unless your property offers something that stands out to the dwindling prospective buyer pool, it is likely going to take longer to sell. Heck, even if it does, it might still take a long time to sell.

What could that something special be? It could be an amazing view, a special backyard set-up-for-entertaining, a magazine worthy living area and kitchen, event worthy outbuildings and so on.

Outdoor space

2. Touch Ups, Repairs & Decluttering.

If your house does’t necessarily have anything unique to showcase, that’s ok. Your next best option is to have it looks its absolute best.

Our advise would be to keep the colours neutral. CLEAN the house – and I mean clean – baseboards, floors, ceiling fans, window sills.

Decluttering is a must as well – there’s no need to have excessive amounts of things lying around.

Minor repairs such as re-grouting your shower tiles, making sure all appliances are working, all lights bulbs are working, etc. goes a long way with tying everything together.

A well-maintained home not only looks more appealing but also gives buyers confidence that they won’t encounter any unexpected issues.

Outdoor space

3. How is your house priced?

Arrghh! You might think… Of course they bring up price. I can feel your eyes rolling at this point.

Competitively pricing your home is essential in these times… whether you like it or not.

There still seems to be a small passive aggressive battle going on between buyers and sellers. Buyers, realizing we are in a slow market feel they should be able to get a deal on the property they want to buy. Sellers feel their house is worth a great deal more than it might be currently.

Are you listing to sell or listing to test the market? Ask yourself this seriously.

Testing the market for a week is one thing but stubbornly sitting at a price when you get no offers is another.

Right now is not a great time to test the market. If you need to sell, price the house to sell.  Don’t grossly over price your home and leave it at that price for weeks on end.  Set a threshold of time and if you don’t get the interest you should then adjust the price to something that is more realistic.  You run the risk of having your property go stale if you are trying to “see how much you can get”, or “only selling for a certain price”.

Why would you test the market, only to have your property sit and cancel it later? It is public knowledge how long a house has been listed through House Sigma – it’s not just agents and their clients that can see you had your house sit at a certain price for months on end. Even when you cancel the listing, and re-list, which you will, some buyers see and take it as an opportunity to low ball you. Having a house sit for a long period says either something is wrong with the house, or the Seller is difficult to deal with. It make people reluctant to see it, it makes people think they can low ball you because you’re either desperate or it makes people not want to waste their time looking at your house.

Now is NOT the ideal time to test the market.

Sell if you need to, wait to list if you don’t.

Outdoor space

4. To do upgrades or not to do upgrades?

A question we have been asked a lot by home sellers recently is – should I do major upgrades to me house before listing?

Currently our recommendation is no.

Putting in a brand new kitchen for example *may* not bring in a significant amount more money in these times. Having said that, a house with a nicer kitchen will sell sooner and likely for a little more than a comparable with an outdated kitchen. But you may not be able to recoup your costs entirely in this market.

An in between might be to have the cabinets professionally repainted and a new counter top installed to refresh the look of a dated kitchen.

A question we have been asked a lot by home sellers recently is – should I do major upgrades to me house before listing?

Currently our recommendation is no.

Putting in a brand new kitchen for example *may* not bring in a significant amount more money in these times. Having said that, a house with a nicer kitchen will sell sooner and likely for a little more than a comparable with an outdated kitchen. But you may not be able to recoup your costs entirely in this market.

An in between might be to have the cabinets professionally repainted and a new counter top installed to refresh the look of a dated kitchen.

House in the suburbs

6. The bare minimum in marketing.

It should go without saying but professional photographs for your rural listing are a must. A non-negotiable.  Staging and re-staging is very helpful these days and can make a difference to how people see your home. There are a number of other marketing strategies to use but you can hire us if you want to benefit from those. 🙂

This too shall not last. Just like the buying rampage didn’t last, this slow market won’t last forever.  If history is shows us anything, there is likely to be a significant rebound in the next 24 months.  We are in the decade of volatility.

Sell if you need to sell, otherwise why not wait until the real estate market is in a better state? You may not be able to time the market but once buyer confidence increases and interest rate announcements become more predictable, you can feel more confident about listing.