Canada Migration Trends: Alberta is Top Growth Province of 2021

Jan 5, 2022

U-Haul also names the top 25 growth cities in Canada, with North Bay ranking No. 1 again

Migration from densely populated urban areas to less crowded, more affordable outlying markets was a recurring theme last year in Canada, according to transactional data compiled for the annual U-Haul Growth Index.

Alberta benefitted the most from this pandemic-era trend in 2021, netting more one-way U-Haul truck customers than any other province. British Columbia ranks second for growth, followed by Ontario.

In 2021, Alberta saw a 33% increase in the arrival of one-way U-Haul trucks year-over-year, while departures rose just 29%. More than 50.8% of all U-Haul traffic in Alberta was inflow.

“There are initiatives in Alberta that are creating more job opportunities and attracting residents,” said Naga Chennamsetty, U-Haul Area District Vice President of Western Canada. “In the last year, we have seen lot of movement into Alberta. More communities are developing in and around major cities. Not only that, but the Canadian Rockies are so accessible to residents here, and they offer a variety of recreational activities. Alberta is one of best places to make a home.”

Calgary is the top landing spot for do-it-yourself movers coming to Alberta, but smaller markets like Red Deer-Lacombe, Medicine Hat-Redcliff and Airdrie are also attracting more residents.

2021 U-Haul Growth Provinces

1.Alberta (3)
2.British Columbia (T1)
3.Ontario (10)
4.Saskatchewan (8)
5.Quebec (4)
6.Newfoundland (6)
7.Prince Edward Island (7)
8.Manitoba (9)
9.Nova Scotia (5)
10.New Brunswick (T1)

2020 growth ranking in parentheses

While Alberta tops the province growth list, 14 of Canada’s top 25 growth cities are in Ontario.

North Bay is the leading U-Haul growth city for the second consecutive year, followed by two other Ontario markets: Belleville and Greater Sudbury. DIY movers coming to North Bay rose 40% year-over-year, while departures rose just 27%. Arriving customers accounted for 59.2% of all one-way U-Haul truck traffic in North Bay during 2021.

“At the start of the pandemic we saw a mass exodus from Ontario to other provinces, particularly the Maritimes,” said Jake Spelic, U-Haul Area District Vice President of Eastern Canada. “People were in search of cheaper housing as they worked from home. As time has passed and things are shifting closer to normal, we are starting to see that trend reverse. Ontario is still the economic center of Canada and offers a high quality of living, thousands of job opportunities and attractive salaries.”

2021 U-Haul Top 25 Canadian Growth Cities

1.North Bay, ON (1)
2.Belleville, ON (4)
3.Greater Sudbury, ON (6)
4.Quebec City, QC (16)
5.Calgary, AB
6.Kelowna-West Kelowna, BC
7.Kingston, ON (3)
8.Red Deer-Lacombe, AB
9.Owen Sound-Port Elgin, ON
10.North Vancouver, BC (2)
11.Kamloops, BC
12.Sault Ste. Marie, ON
13.Chatham, ON (9)
14.St. Thomas, ON (13)
15.Medicine Hat-Redcliff, AB
16.Sarnia, ON (10)
17.Brantford, ON (15)
18.Orillia, ON
19.Peterborough, ON (12)
20.Cornwall, ON
21.Penticton, BC
22.Abbotsford, BC (11)
23.Vancouver, BC (7)
24.Airdrie, AB (19)
25.St. Catharines, ON

2020 growth ranking in parentheses, if ranked

PLUS FIVE more notable cities that just missed the cut but posted big growth numbers in 2021:

Chilliwack, BC
Lethbridge, AB
Gatineau, QC
Sherbrooke, QC
Richmond Hill, ON

The U-Haul Growth Index is compiled according to the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks arriving in a city, or province, versus departing from that city, or province, in a calendar year. Migration trends data is compiled from more than 2 million one-way U-Haul truck transactions that occur annually across Canada and the U.S.

While U-Haul migration trends do not correlate directly to population or economic growth, the U-Haul Growth Index is an effective gauge of how well cities are both attracting and maintaining residents.

U-Haul is the authority on migration trends thanks to its expansive network that blankets all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces. The geographical coverage from more than 23,000 U-Haul truck- and trailer-sharing locations provides a comprehensive overview of where people are moving like no one else in the industry. Find U-Haul stores and neighborhood dealers at uhaul.com/locations.

Independent small business owners interested in joining the U-Haul Dealer Network at no cost and earning commissions from rental transactions at their locations can visit uhaul.com/dealer to learn more and submit an information form.

Increased demand for Moving Help® through movinghelp.com has mirrored increased demand for one-way U-Haul equipment during the pandemic. Moving Help has been the No. 1 choice of customers seeking labor services for loading and unloading during their moves since 2002, offering a network of 6,700 local and independent Moving Help Service Providers across all 50 states and 10 provinces. With more than 5 million jobs completed and 2.3 million customer reviews, customers have access to the largest network of moving labor services in North America through Moving Help.

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