More people are cohabiting to combat high housing costs, census results show
When Gina Athanasiou’s father died in 2016, she realized that her mother, who oscillated between Canada and Greece for most of her life, did not have a large enough pension to cover the costs. raised from a home in Toronto.
The solution? Athanasiou, a real estate agent, invited his mother to move into the house in East York where she lived with her husband and children.
“There’s no way my mom could have financially existed on her own in Toronto, if she didn’t have us to live with,” Athanasiou said.
The lifestyle that put three generations of Athanasiou’s family under one roof is becoming increasingly common, the latest installment of Statistics Canada census data revealed on Wednesday.
While the figures show that more people are living alone than ever before, the proportion of households where roommates live together or multiple generations of a family share a home is growing rapidly.
The number of homes shared by multiple generations of a family, two or more families living together, or one family living with people they may or may not be related to has increased by 45% over the past 20 years.
These households numbered nearly one million in 2021, or 7% of households in Canada.
Almost one in 10 children up to age 14 lived in the same household as at least one of their grandparents in 2021, up 7% from 2001.
Of the 553,855 children living with grandparents last year, 93% lived with at least one parent and at least one grandparent.
“If we focus on the provinces and territories, in Nunavut, among very young children under the age of five, almost one in three lives with one of their grandparents, and that’s the lowest rate. higher in Canada,” said a senior from Statistics Canada. analyst Nora Galbraith.
Roommates, multi-generational homes on the rise amid rising costs, immigration: census. #CDNPoli #NationalCensus
“The lowest is in Quebec. It’s 5%, so it reflects different cultural preferences, as well as different housing and economic situations.”
Economists and demographers have attributed these trends to wages not keeping up with the soaring cost of living, as well as immigration and high house prices.
The Canadian Real Estate Association said the average home sold for $711,316 in May, up 3.4% from $687,595 in the same month a year earlier – well above above what people paid for a house years ago.
Data from Rentals.ca shows the average rent in Canada reached $1,885 per month in June, a 9.5% increase from the same month last year.
To cope, many live with roommates or family – often much longer than their parents.
Aaron Ottho, for example, never would have imagined he’d still be renting a condo with a roommate when he turned 40, but months after celebrating his fourth decade, that’s exactly the situation. in which he found himself.
In April, the Vancouver marketer moved into his fourth — most expensive rental unit to date — since college and, like many of his friends, is still a long way from his dream of home ownership.
“People take longer to get married and settle down because they don’t feel secure in their lives or careers, paying so much rent,” Ottho said.
“Almost everyone I know is a tenant.”
The census shows that the number of houses shared by roommates increased by 54% between 2001 and 2021, the fastest growth of all household types.
Living with roommates was more common in the inner cities of larger urban centres, especially in cities with large post-secondary institutions.
Some of the most interesting changes that Mike Moffatt, senior director of policy and innovation at the Institute for Smart Prosperity, has seen between this census period and last have impacted people in their twenties and 30s, who tend to live with roommates in small condos or apartments.
The 2021 census showed that 39% of Canadians aged 20 to 34 lived without their parents but with a spouse, partner or child, up from almost 50% in 2001.
The number of people in this age group living with at least one parent, roommates or alone simultaneously has increased from 51% in 2001 to 61% in 2021.
Immigration is driving part of the trend, Moffatt and Athanasiou said.
They discovered that first-generation Canadians of foreign origin do not form and live with the nuclear families that others do because it is more traditional or accepted for children to live with their parents in their cultures.
“In my culture – I’m Greek – it’s completely normal for children to stay at home until they’re married,” Athanasiou said.
The combination of different housing structures and high prices means that many Canadians marry and have children later in life.
“Nobody wants to raise kids living in their parents’ basement,” Moffatt said.
“We see the stages of life extend for 20 to 30 years.”
When people have children, Athanasiou notices that they don’t want to be far from home. Many of his clients in their thirties rent or buy properties near their parents, who help with childcare.
“For millennials, it’s more of a dependency on the parents, whereas for my generation, it’s us who take care of the parents.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said such observations are part of why his government reinstated the long form census after it was scrapped by the Conservatives in 2011.
“As we make historic investments in housing…we do so from a base of knowledge and information,” he told a news conference in Kingston, Ont. “Making policy based on data and facts is something that Canadians understand to be essential and the way forward.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 13, 2022.