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Armstrong family won million-dollar home prize; moved where they can afford to live

Matt and Ally Hanscom won a $1 million home in 2019.
Matt and Ally Hanscom won a $1 million home in 2019.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Ally Hanscom

An Armstrong family that won a million-dollar home two years ago says they had to move to the East Coast so they could afford to live.

Ally Hanscom won the HGTV Canada’s Home to Win: for the Holidays competition back in December 2019. At the time, Ally, her husband Matt Hanscom, and their young daughter were living in a trailer on her parents’ property in Armstrong.

Ally and Matt both had jobs in the oil industry in Alberta prior, but when the market crashed, they ended up moving to B.C. to figure out their next steps.

READ MORE: Armstrong family living in trailer win multi-million dollar home

After winning the home in Elmira, Ontario, they moved in and lived there for about a month, but decided the best financial option for them was to put it on the market.

“With the pandemic and everything we decided we needed to be around family and we needed to be financially stable,” Ally said, adding that while the community was lovely, it was the best option financially.

They sold the house in 11 days for $1 million and moved to New Brunswick to be closer to Matt’s family.

“Coming from basically having nothing, living in a camper, we were pretty grateful,” she said.

With a background in oilfield company management, they were both really stingy with their money, so most of the money went to investments and paying off debt, she said.

They bought a six-acre property where Matt attended bible camp as a child in New Brunswick for $75,000. Currently housing an old chapel, Ally said they'd like to eventually build their dream home on the property and transform the chapel into a community centre.

They also bought a four-acre property with a two-bedroom home for $130,000, she said.

She recommends any new millionaire should find a good financial planner and think of moving to the East Coast, which is far more affordable, particularly compared to B.C. or the Okanagan where the average cost of a home is nearing a million dollars.

“We relocated because we knew moving to New Brunswick was going to be our best option, not only because Matt’s parents are here… real estate wise it makes a lot more sense, we can get a lot more for our money,” Ally said. “Living in B.C. was beautiful and amazing and as much as we enjoyed it, economically it was completely unrealistic for people our age in our early 30s. It’s almost impossible to get into the real estate market. The wages don’t reflect what housing is right now, especially in the Kelowna area. My advice would be to move to the East Coast.”

The average price for a home in B.C. was listed at $788,000 in 2020, the most expensive average in the country. In New Brunswick, it’s $211,000, according to Statista, an online platform that provides market and consumer data. 

With the money, Ally and Matt have been able to help their family and splurge on a new vehicle, a Volkswagen Atlas and the couple plans to travel.

“I wish I could almost start a charity to help people to be able to have a home because I know what it’s like to not have one,” she said. At this time, the couple is still unsure of what the future entails.

HGTV and Discovery Channel could not be reached for comment to ask how many winners stay in their dream homes, but when presented the choice of choosing between a dream home or cash, most winners opt for cash in the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation lotteries.

The lotteries have been ongoing for more than 20 years. In that time, only two winners chose a dream home option as opposed to cash; one grand prize winner of Dream Lottery in 2011 selected a home option and a Choices Lottery winner in 2016 selected a grand prize condo, cash, car and a trip option.

“Unfortunately, we are unable to comment as to how or why some people choose the house over the cash, and why the majority preferred to take the cash,” said Kari Kylo, with the hospital foundation, via email.

- This story was originally published Feb. 27, 2021.

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