Evan Tynedal, a 34-year-old self-employed sales representative; Vanessa Tynedal, a 38-year-old account executive; and their kids: Chloe, who’s eight, Jace, who’s five and Avigail, who’s two.
One phrase that perfectly describes Vanessa and Evan’s love story and real estate journey: long-distance. In 2010, Vanessa was living in Winnipeg and Evan in Kelowna, but they met in Malibu during a work trip for top-performing employees hosted by the sales and marketing firm where they both worked. Both were in relationships at the time, but they kept in touch as friends. As fate would have it, just a few months later, their company moved them both to Ontario to handle different campaigns—Vanessa to Hamilton and Evan to Oshawa. One night, they decided to meet in the middle. “When we found out we were both single, we immediately started flirting,” says Vanessa. They dated for a few years, then got married in 2014. Chloe came along shortly afterwards.
The Tynedals’ journey to becoming homeowners was less serendipitous. By the time Chloe reached toddlerhood, the couple were living in an apartment on the top level of a detached house in Oshawa. “Our parents were kind of pushing us to find a place,” says Evan, recalling that Chloe had entered a less-than-ideal climbing phase. In 2016, they began looking for their own property in earnest, but found themselves outflanked in bidding wars on the first two houses. “We gave up looking, then our realtor called us with another option a few months later,” Evan says.
The property in question was a 1,050-square foot brick bungalow with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a typical starter home for the area. The couple won over the owners—“just barely,” Evan says—with a bid of $416,000. In order to afford their mortgage, the Tynedals realized they’d need to renovate and rent out the basement. They spent another $25,000 installing a kitchen and two downstairs bedrooms and took on two tenants, both long-time friends and coworkers. “Initially, I thought the neighbourhood was kind of sketchy,” Evan says, “but when we moved there, it was pretty peaceful.” That peace lasted for the Tynedals (and their basement tenants) for a while, even after little Jace came along in 2018 and Evan’s sister moved in following her divorce. Then 2020 happened.
Vanessa was three months pregnant with Avigail at the onset of the pandemic. Despite having just set up a house of their own, the couple realized they wanted to be closer to family. Vanessa and Evan moved their whole brood to Calgary for four months, crashing with relatives. “We thought: What are we doing in Ontario?” Vanessa says. “All of us are happy out west.” By July, they were eyeing Winnipeg, where Vanessa’s dad had retired and was available to help with childcare. A call with a realtor friend set a move in motion. “He was like, ‘You guys need to get back to Ontario and sell your house—now,” Evan says. The pandemic real estate frenzy had just kicked off, and the Tynedals discovered they could sell their bungalow for $570,000— more than $150,000 above what they paid for it. The family high-tailed it back to Oshawa, spent two weeks prepping the home for sale, and put it on the market. It sold at asking within a few days.
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That summer, the Tynedals moved in with Vanessa’s parents in Winnipeg while house-hunting. Friends suggested they narrow their search down to Linden Woods and River Heights, two of the city’s wealthier suburban enclaves. Linden Woods (average price: $460,000) had a mix of cookie-cutter homes built in the ’80s and newer condos, while River Heights (average price: $420,000) had more palatial homes and old-growth trees. Both areas had no shortage of schools, but neither of the neighbourhoods were compelling to the Tynedals, who found the homes in Linden Woods too small and River Heights too busy.
A move-in ready, 2,600-square foot home in Garden City—a 10-minute drive from Vanessa’s parents’ home in the Maples neighbourhood—captured their hearts. The five-bedroom, five-bathroom property had been listed even before the Tynedals sold their Oshawa home, but it was still on the market after they made their big move. Unlike the out-of-control Ontario market, Winnipeg’s homes weren’t selling like hotcakes at the time. “When we saw the place again, it was listed for $450,000, or $30,000 less,” Vanessa says. Another big bonus? Plentiful sidewalks. “A lot of neighbourhoods in the south end of the city have none,” Evan says. “If you have kids, where are you going to walk? On the road?”
The Tynedals initially placed a bid of $450,000, but after an inspection revealed a 30-year-old furnace, they knocked $5,000 off of their offer. They weren’t worried about competition, so Vanessa and Evan waited a week to have their mortgage approved. When they failed the stress test with their long-time bank due to Evan’s self-employment (and Vanessa’s unemployment), they were forced to apply for a mortgage at a credit union in Niverville, a town just south of Winnipeg. They got the all clear, and also heard from the Garden City sellers, who offered to lower the property’s price by another $5,000 to expedite the sale. “I was pregnant, so I was very antsy,” Vanessa says. The Tynedals closed on the house in late August. Avigail was born a few weeks later.
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The Tynedals don’t miss much about their old life in Oshawa, except for their friends. They occasionally socialize with their new neighbours in Winnipeg, who generously dropped off homemade challah bread as a welcome present. But Vanessa and Evan are enjoying their newfound privacy and the freedom to be as loud as they want—a necessity when you have three kids under 10. The biggest upgrade is their lower cost of living. The bills are a bit higher without tenants, but they’ve made up for it in square footage. Even their gas costs have been halved: the couple used to spend an average of $1,000 a month filling up their cars to travel to clients in Toronto. Plus, driving to visit extended family in Calgary takes now 12 hours, not 35. “I think it’s a good idea for people to move to areas that cost less and upgrade their life,” Evan says. “I feel badly for all the people stuck in big cities, paying massive bills for not a lot of space. That used to be us.”