One of the fastest growing suburbs of Toronto is Ajax, where young families and working couples can still buy homes for a nearly affordable price. More than 80% of people who work here commute by car, partly due to the public transit system, which hasn't been able to keep up with the rapid expansion of the population here. Between 2006 and 2011, the number of residents in Ajax exploded, outpacing Canada's national growth fourfold. Thanks to land values that remain much lower than those in the city, the majority of new and existing homes in Ajax are single-family dwellings, which appeal to families with children, but has contributed to sprawl that has become problematic in some areas. Ajax is in the region of Durham, east of Toronto. To the south, Lake Ontario meets with a six-kilometre stretch of beaches and parkland that make up the town's pretty waterfront area.
Married, working couples with children attending school, and a lower than normal number of seniors. Ajax is also a landing pad for new immigrants from the Philippines and South Asia, but the proportion of ethnic minorities in the town remains somewhat small.
Young, working couples seeking an affordable place to live while raising a family. Rental rates in Ajax are far below the Greater Toronto Area average, and the town has a healthy stock of detached homes with yards available for rent. There are a few good schools close by and a bit of shopping, but be sure to bring your car – getting around by transit or on foot is anything but convenient in Ajax.
Not-so-perfect for: Professionals who despise a long-haul commute will find life in Ajax too far removed from the city, and even running errands around Ajax is best done by car. Singles will find themselves at odds with the majority of the townsfolk, and even seniors are in the minority.
Taking advantage of the natural amenities in Ajax is a local favourite, with destinations like Duffins Creek Trail and the Waterfront Trail, plus a ton of parks, loads of recreation centres and four golf courses in town. All of these cater to parents and kids, offering indoor and outdoor educational programming and summer camps for when school's out for the summer. In the winter, though, activities on the trails winds down and indoor pastimes gain in popularity, and the Ajax Mall and Ajax Plaza get busier with shoppers. The town puts on a few festivals throughout the year, like Summer in the Square, Trailfest, Taste Ajax and Canada Day celebrations, plus Winterfest, the Santa Claus Parade and a New Year's Eve party in the later part of the year. It's not really chock-full of cultural pride or a thriving arts scene, but the neighbours are generally friendly and there are tons of friends around for the kids to play with.
Ajax remains an affordable suburban haven, with rents and housing prices well below the regional average. But more and more, people are taking notice, and with the population boom of the last decade, prices are starting to increase. Space is running out for the single detached houses that make up most of the landscape, so some infill construction has begun, giving rise to townhouses and some condominiums and apartments. The south end of the community boasts some of the lowest prices around, with the exception of a collection of large lakeview homes near the beach, while the north is, on average, marginally more expensive.
1-bedroom apartment: $840
2-bedroom apartment: $1,075
3-bedroom house: $1,615
Avg. rent compared to other Toronto-area towns and regions Ajax is 14% lower than GTA average
Single family detached homes on small- to medium-sized lots
The three recreation centres in Ajax, including the brand-new Audley rec centre, are some of the busiest in the area, serving a population that tops 110,000. Each offers fitness areas, swimming, arenas, meeting spaces and sports fields and courts. There are four golf courses in the community for lovers of the links. Town officials are planning to redevelop the downtown area, centred at Bayly Street and Harwood Avenue, where Ajax Plaza is situated, forming the core of the town's commercial district. A little north along Kingston Road are a couple of other shopping areas, including Harwood Centre, Durham Centre and Pickering Village. The town has five high schools within its borders, and a handful of elementary schools. Residents take advantage of the trails, parks and beaches that line the waterfront at the edge of Lake Ontario, and links to Carruthers Creek on one end and Duffins Creek on the other, both of which have preserved green space and winding trail systems.