TAHSIS, B.C. -- First it was high real estate prices, now COVID-19 could be another factor that's causing people to move from big cities into more remote communities.

That's a belief held by Tahsis Mayor Martin Davis, who says he's getting more inquiries from people considering relocation.

"They can sell their house in a larger community, come here, buy a place and then have a whole bunch of money left over to renovate their house or do whatever. So, there's a lot of benefit to coming to places like this," says Davis.

Davis moved to the community in 1999 and says in the days when a mill was operating there, the village's population was around 2,500. When the mill shut down in 2001, the population fell to 300, but people are beginning to return, he says.

"Sometimes it can be cheap housing, sometimes lifestyle. People trying to get out of the big city to get a more comfortable living that's closer to a more natural environment," Davis says.

One thing that puzzles the mayor, though, is why his community's property assessments rose so much more than other small North Island communities. While others rose anywhere from 10 to 18 per cent, Tahsis' escalated by 36 per cent.

"It's a bit of a mystery to me," Davis says. "I know houses have been selling faster here and that must be the driver for it, but to see that it had gone up 36% was a shock for a lot of people."

Local realtor Harmony Nielsen says things need to be kept in perspective, though.

"Yes, the values have gone up, which is a good thing, but we're probably the cheapest place on the island, I would think, for real estate right now" Nielsen says.

She believes the average price for a home in Tahsis is around $150,000.

"You're going to get a house for probably about the fraction of the cost of a condo somewhere else and you get to live in a great community," she says.