What You Need To Know About Changing Household Composition

Changing household compositions, such as the increase in one-person and roommate households, and the rise in older adult children living with their parents, will have implications for our housing stock.

What the 2021 Census Data Say About Families, Household and Marital Status
With the latest census release, Statistics Canada provides us with data on attributes of the Canadian population such as the marital status, type of familial relationship of households, and income. This gives us a window into the changing landscape of the different types of households in Canada and how some of those changes may impact housing.

Adult Children Living With Parents
A long-term trend that was observed through previous census counts was one of a greater share of adult children living with their parents. Nationally, the share of young adults (ages 20-34) living in the same household as at least one of their parents has plateaued, remaining consistent at 35% between 2016 to 2021. Perhaps running counter to popular perceptions of housing affordability, from 2016 to 2021, the share of 20-34 year olds at home in our major metro regions actually declined: by 3 percentage points in Vancouver, and 1 percentage point in Montreal and Toronto.

These top-line numbers, however, are deceiving as the decline for the 20-34 group was driven by fewer younger adult children at home and a growing share of older children at home. For example, in the Vancouver CMA, the share of kids aged 30-
34 at home increased, with 14% of this age group still in the parental home. A similar pattern was seen in the Toronto CMA as almost 1 in 4 (19%) of kids aged 30-34 were now living with their parents (up from 15% a decade ago).

Roommate Households
The share of roommate households was higher in urban cores, especially those with post-secondary institutions. New study permit holders in Canada increased by 68% between 2016 and 2021, partly driving the increase in roommate households. Further, areas with high tourist flows (e.g. Whistler) also saw a larger share of roommate households. That said, at 663,835 roommate households nationally, this group only accounted for 4% of all households in 2021.

One-person Households
In 2021, one-person households in Canada composed 29% of all households; a 1 percentage point increase from 2016 (28%), when one-person households became the most predominant household type for the first time in Canada’s history. This
is a trend driven by the young population. People living alone aged 30-44 doubled from 5% in 1981 to 10% in 2021, reflecting trends of people postponing family formation due to educational and/or career aspirations, or due to aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contrary to younger Canadians, where living alone is on the rise, it declined amongst older Canadians as the number of older couples have increased. In Canada, and across the world, the gap in life expactancies between women and men has been shrinking over time. From 1980 to 2020, men’s life expectancy increased more than women’s (from 71.6 years to 79.5 years compared to 78.8 years to 84.0 years respectively). This has resulted in a growing percentage of people remaining in couples through older ages. Over half (52%) of women aged 65 and older were in a couple in 2021, up from 41% in 1981. This trend among older Canadians has wide-ranging implications from senior’s housing to healthcare, as older Canadians will increasingly be able to age in place.

So What
These changes in household composition, nationally and through the collection of diverse Canadian communities, directly informs housing needs, from the overall number of homes to specific housing types. Understanding changing aspects of household formation over time also gives us a window into the range of local services from schools and transportation, to parks and healthcare, which may need to match shifting demand.

Our rennie intelligence team comprises our in-house demographer, senior economist, and market analysts. Together, they empower individuals, organizations, and institutions with data-driven market insight and analysis. Experts in urban land economics, community planning, shifting demographics, and real estate trends, their strategic research supports a comprehensive advisory service offering and forms the basis of frequent reports and public presentations. Their thoughtful and objective approach truly embodies the core values of rennie.

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