The Benefits of Real Estate Investing in Sarnia

The Benefits of Real Estate Investing in Sarnia

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Situated in southwestern Ontario just to the east of Michigan and a bit north of Detroit, Sarnia is the biggest city on Lake Huron with a population of just over 70,000 people. Sitting on the banks of the St. Clair River, the city has historically been a key port and shipping center, which is a well-earned reputation that lasts today. Sarnia is a small but proud city that has helped fuel Canada’s industrial history for generations. It could have some interesting opportunities for the right real estate investor—one who is interested in a space where blue-collar work still thrives, but there is still a significant cultural presence to enrich and entertain residents and visitors alike.

Table of Contents - The Benefits of Real Estate Investing in Sarnia

Sarnia’s industrial might impacts world history

Today Sarnia has a heavy presence of the petrochemical industry fueling its economic growth, which has interesting roots dating back to World War II. As the Japanese military conquered much of the Pacific, they were also gobbling up natural sources of latex, which was a vital component of rubber. The Allies, worried that their trucks and planes would have insufficient latex for their tires, wanted to make a synthetic alternative. Sarnia was chosen as the place where this vital work and research would be done, cementing the city’s place in history. That petrochemical presence persists to this day and continues to fuel the local economy.

Demographics in Sarnia

Sarnia is a primarily English-speaking city, and there is also a significant number of Indigenous peoples. French is spoken to a small degree, but it’s not nearly as common as it can be in other parts of Canada. The city is on the older side as well, with a median age that’s almost five years than the median for all of Canada. This could indicate opportunities for real estate investors interested in finding and renting properties that could appeal to older residents – single floor homes or ground floor units, for instance, that could be of service to people who might need some accommodations to keep their mobility and their independence.

An economy based in petrochemicals

As was noted above Sarnia’s biggest industry is the petrochemical industry, which still maintains a strong presence here. There are also large pipelines originating in Alberta that carry large amounts of oil here for refinement, so the oil industry holds a large presence here. Food manufacturing also has a foothold, as the city is the sole producer of butyl rubber, an ingredient in many different types of chewing gums. These heavy industries all combine to employ a huge percentage of Sarnia’s population—around 8,000 people and 45,000 people indirectly—that allow the city’s median incomes to stay at around the average for all of Ontario, including Toronto. People can make a good living in this city, and there could be an opportunity for the right real estate investor to capitalize. However, speculation and research is pointing to the possibility that Sarnia’s population could decline as a result of some of these keystone plants shutting down in recent years.

Cultural offerings

Sarnia’s appeal is not just limited to the economic outlook and decent livings to be made. The city is also host to the International Symphony Orchestra and the Sarnia Bayfest (formerly the Festival by the Bay) which routinely hosts top acts from rock to country. There are also dozens and dozens of parks within the city limits, so it’s easy to get back in touch with nature and birdwatch, hike or swim. These parks also boast accommodations like baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and pools so you’re never too far away from family fun in Sarnia—a big draw for people who are thinking about setting down roots here. The city also hosts a junior OHL hockey team (the Sarnia Sting) and several other sports teams, so you can always catch a game for a relatively low price. The culture of Sarnia means that the city is an interesting and vibrant place for residents of all ages.

Cost of living in Sarnia

The cost of living in Sarnia is low, and real estate prices are even lower. The city boasts excellent schools, so it can be an attractive target for younger families especially. The savvy real estate investor might target properties that would appeal to families with kids—multi-bedroom units or even single-family homes. The city boasts a low cost of living across the board—from dining out to groceries to a host of other expenses, you can be sure that it will likely be cheaper in Sarnia than in almost anywhere else around the region.

The real estate market

This state of lower-cost living also extends to real estate. The average home price in Sarnia is roughly half of what it is across the province as a whole, so there is some real value to be had in the city and the surrounding area. However, it shouldn’t be seen as a golden ticket, because rents are relatively low here as well. You shouldn’t expect to receive top dollar for a rental property that simply did not cost you all that much. Doing your research about the potential performance of rental properties and ensuring that you’re charging a fair price for rent is a vital way to make sure your Sarnia properties perform as well as everything else in your portfolio.

All in all, Sarnia represents an interesting market for real estate investors to explore. It’s a city that trends older, and many residents have built up a bit of money throughout their lives, so there’s the chance to offer them a premium lifestyle. The potential for growth among younger people is somewhat limited by the decline of the area’s industry, but they are still drawn in by the exemplary schools that their children can enjoy. The city’s low cost of livings and low real estate values might turn off some real estate investors, but for the right Canadian investor, Sarnia represents a space where there is a lot of unrealized opportunities ready to be grabbed.

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Scott Dillingham

Scott Dillingham

I have been investing and lending to real estate investors for nearly 10 years now. After thousands of successful deals between flips, rent to owns, student properties and commercial assets I have developed a deep knowledge of real estate investments and have a passion of sharing this information with the world! If your looking for a lender who specializes in rental property financing you're going to want to connect with me at team@lendcity.ca.