New contest in eastern Ontario offers free rent for a year
How does free rent for a year sound?
The Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry will pay the rent of one lucky winner of a new contest that launched on Monday.
The Date My County contest is a chance for SDG Counties to grow its population, and with its scenic views and slower pace of living, it has a lot to offer.
"We are located ideally between Ottawa and Montreal and we're putting our money where our mouth is," said Tara Kirkpatrick, Manager of Economic Development for SDG Counties.
"We have actually rolled out the mat and we are offering $1,500 a month for one year to one lucky applicant who is going to come and be our brand ambassador for a year," she noted.
The contest is open to any Canadian resident that does not currently live in the Counties or in Cornwall.
"It could be almost anyone you know," Kirkpatrick added. "We're looking for somebody's kid who went away to college and made their career in the GTA for 10 years, it could be a young professional.
"It could be a medical professional, we're always looking for new doctors for our region and maybe a doctor and their family might want to relocate to beautiful SDG," she said.
Housing costs in the area remain one of the lowest in Canada, which means that money can go a lot further towards accommodations.
"Your average house price in Ontario is around $880,000 and in Ottawa alone you're around $700,000," noted Troy Vaillancourt, President of the Cornwall District Real Estate Board.
"Our average house price is around $400,000, so that $1,500 that the Counties is willing to give you can cover the majority of your mortgage," he noted.
"Why not make things go a little bit easier here where you can spend a little bit less and get a whole lot more?" he said.
Vaillancourt noted properties range from mobile homes, to farms, to mansions on the St. Lawrence.
"There’s lots of new construction, lots of new development going on which is fantastic," he said. "We've seen a huge increase in the amount of people coming from the bigger markets now that they can work remotely."
The area is experiencing growth after many years of decline, with new businesses popping up, like the Lost Villages Brewery, which is set to open in late September.
"There's lots of opportunity that wasn’t here in the past, so hopefully people see us as kind of a place to plant their roots and raise a family," said Brewery President John Wright.
"We saw the growth that was coming to the area, all the residential, the high-end residential homes that are coming to the area, so we thought this would be the perfect area to move to," he added.
26-year-old Zack Harley just recently moved back from Toronto and says the contest is a great idea for a young family looking to get into the housing market.
"I love it. Honestly, I've been wondering why more people haven't been convinced to move back to the area," he said. "COVID, for me, was a big reason why we moved away from Toronto.
"My girlfriend and I love being out on the parkway nearby and close to family. There are so many good restaurants, outdoor nature space, it’s really good. I'm really happy with it and I'd love to see more people move back," he said.
"One lucky applicant will get paid to stay here but we are very excited at the opportunity to potentially welcome more residents into SDG Counties," added Kirkpatrick.
She noted hundreds of jobs are available with industries flourishing, and a massive waterfront project is in the works, which will include dog parks and beaches.
Commute times are also significantly shorter than in a major urban centre.
"You can live in a rural area where your only traffic may be, 'Oh I got stuck behind a tractor for five minutes, I'm going to be late today,' versus sitting in congestion for hours," Kirkpatrick said.
"But at the same time, if you want to meet your girlfriends for drinks in Montreal and go watch a hockey game, you can do that and come home that evening and make it to work the next day with no issue."
Applicants must submit a one-minute video along with a short 50-word essay on why they think they should be chosen. The new brand ambassador for the county will also have to journal about their experience living here twice a month for one year.
"We're so excited to see who might come forward and be interested in our campaign," Kirkpatrick added. "This is a chance for anybody who is thinking about moving to eastern Ontario and has always wondered what it would be like to live there."
Contest details can be found at datemycounty.ca