MONTREAL -- With weeks to go until Montreal’s annual city-wide moving day on July 1, several moving companies are already booked up.

While that's creating a headache for tenants and new homeowners, a packed schedule is a lifeline for movers recovering from last year's unusually slow season. 

Manuchar Kruaschvili is the director of MovinGo, a medium-sized Montreal moving company. He says people are calling him every day to try to book a slot for July 1.

“I only have one spot left,” he said, adding that most of his July 1 slots filled up in late April.


While the pandemic drought seems to have lifted as far as business is concerned, the effects of the coronavirus on real estate continue to shape Montreal: most of Kruaschvili’s customers are moving to the suburbs, he says.

“It's never happened before like this,” he said, “that we move this many people outside of the city from downtown.”

Between 2019 and 2020, vacancy rates in the Montreal area were at their lowest in recent history, hovering around 1.5 per cent for rental properties.

While more apartments have since become available downtown, the vacancy rate remains unchanged in the suburbs at just 1.2 per cent.

What’s more, the rental stock in Montreal’s suburbs has increased with a surge of new construction: at least 8,480 new apartments have been added since 2019, one of the largest spikes in the last 30 years. Still, demand was strong enough in those areas to keep the vacancy rate unchanged.

“People are leaving the city,” said Kruaschvili. “It's accumulating more and more and more.”

Experts say people are ditching their downtown apartments in favour of larger spaces for home offices and recreation. 

“If you look at the condos being built in the last few years in the city, they're all quite small, with regards to square footage,” said Desiree Ofter, a real estate broker with Royal LePage.

Maybe, she said, “you start working at home and you need a home office, and maybe you're two people that need a home office. At that point I think you start looking for where you can get more space within your budget.”