If you’re reading this and live in Canada, apparently there’s a pretty good chance you live by yourself. This has got me thinking about the upcoming federal election and the state of our country’s housing markets.
I read a CBC article last week about how for the first time in Canada, one-person households are the most common in the country, according to the 2016 census. There are almost 4 million Canadians living on their own as of three years ago, up from just 1.7 million in 1981. Single-person households now make up 28.2% of all 14.1 million households across the country.
Who are these people? Many are separated or divorced males. Just over 70% of those living alone once had a partner, and 55% had at least one child. People are divorcing more these days. I once met a real estate agent who focused mostly on Toronto’s east end, working primarily with divorced couples who need to sell their homes and either rent or buy separately. It’s a three-transaction deal for him.
The CBC article also says more people are marrying later, surviving spouses, and staying single longer. So, how does this single-lifestyle affect politics and the housing market?
I mention politics because there’s a federal election this year, and most politicians campaign on improving lives for families. When was the last time you heard a political candidate speak enthusiastically to a crowd about how they plan on making life easier for all the single people out there?
Over the last few years, there’s also been talk in the new home industry, specifically in the Greater Toronto Area, about how we need more family-friendly condos. The biggest developers in Ontario are including kids’ areas as one of the condo amenities in some of their new developments.
Even I have written about how it’s time for families to embrace condo living. At the time, there was a report about how the vast majority of young Canadians preferred to live in a detached home if cost wasn’t a consideration. This may still be true, but if single-person households are on the rise, maybe we don’t need as many detached homes or family-friendly condo units as I thought.
We also wrote about how Toronto could be taking some cues from Montreal to encourage more families to buy new condo units. Montreal is offering up to $15,000 in subsidies and rebates to families with children who buy a new condo in the downtown area. They are also requiring at least 20% of units in all new condo developments be three-bedroom or larger.
Knowing that nearly 30% of all Canadian households are single people makes me think twice about the need for more three-bedroom units in condos. That said, I’m aware that mid- to high-density housing is needed along our transit corridors in order to meet demand in Ontario.
With home prices high in the GTA and the population booming, I think even if the number of single-person households continues to grow, there will still be families who have to or want to live in a higher density condo environment.
Despite what some reports have suggested, I feel like there have to be some millennial singles and couples out there currently living in a condo who want to maintain the condo lifestyle even after they decide to have children.