For tourists, second home owners, and retirees, Prince Edward County is a one-of-a-kind destination. It is the largest freshwater island in Lake Ontario, and it is about a three-hour drive from both Toronto and Montreal. The island is famous for its long stretch of sandy beaches and its geography of limestone cliffs. Its local culture emphasises its people’s traditional roots, providing tourists and residents with tastes of foods, wines, artisan crafts, and a wide range of outdoor activities such as camping, cycling, and hiking. Its main industries are wineries and tourism, with a significantly higher proportion of its workforce employed in agriculture than in other regions, and its largest public park, Sandbanks Provincial Park, attracts over 600,000 visitors each year. Many seniors and retirees flock to the area. It currently has a population of around 26,000 people, with the county expecting it to grow to 34,000 by 2032. The demographics of 55-74 years old are nearly double that of the provincial average, with 30 percent of its population 65 and older, giving the community an average age of 50. Residents enjoy general financial security, with a median household income of $66,000, which is close to the Ontario average, and a lower cost of living.
Prince Edward County is not a secluded, isolated island. Instead, it is conveniently located between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, making it a popular tourist destination and a popular place to own a second home. Work-from-home residents now have another option thanks to recent upgrades to the island’s tech infrastructure. Over 11,800 homes and businesses were connected to high-speed internet via fibre optic cables in 2012, and this type of infrastructure improvement has continued ever since. Consequently, it’s designed to be a place where people can work from home or in small offices focused on specialised technical skills while still enjoying a low-cost, high-quality lifestyle. The rental market in Prince Edward County is also thriving. In terms of vacation rentals and tourism, the County had nearly 6000 non-permanent residents in 2011, which is nearly a quarter of the entire population of the island. Overnight visitors accounted for 40% of the county’s 658,877 tourists in 2012, making the market for Airbnb and other rental investments enormous. As a result of the increasing number of tourists, the island has become one of Airbrb’s fastest growing communities. A healthy outdoor-focused tourist base existed before Covid-19, with annual visits reaching up to one million. Those living in the county who require hardware or other amenities typically found in larger cities will find them in Kingston, which is just a short ferry ride and drive away. There is a 45-55 split in the labour force between those who work on the island and those who work off the island, but the average commute time for most people is less than 30 minutes. Labour participation is lower because of a large number of retirees, but those still in the labour force are more likely than average to be employed, thanks to a low unemployment rate. Its top industries include tourism, agriculture, professional and technical services, and health care. There are a variety of festivals and attractions from the county’s natural landscape as well as museums and towns, which brought in 659 thousand tourists in 2012. Its agriculture focuses on both farms and wineries, with over 40 of them, as well as brewers of beer, cider, and distilled spirits. There will be an increase in home-based technical jobs in the county due to an increase in the number of 50+ residents and improvements in the telecommunications infrastructure on the island. The healthcare industry is the last one to see significant growth as it prepares to meet the needs of an ageing population.
In Prince Edward County, almost all transportation is done by car. While there is a ferry and a VIA Rail station nearby, getting there necessitates having a car. The free ferry from Glenora to Adolphustown connects residents with highway 33, a short drive from which leads to Kingston, Ontario’s capital city, which is open 365 days a year. In addition, there are a number of commercial and private marinas. Getting around Prince Edward County is easy with a VIA Rail station just ten minutes away and five road entryways. The majority of these connect to highway 401, which takes you quickly to Kingston or toward Toronto, Ottawa, or Montreal in about two hours each way. It’s too far to commute to major cities outside of Kingston, but it’s close enough for tourists and people with a second home on the island to visit without having a major disruption in their schedule.