Is Multi-Generational Living..The New Way of Living?


Is Multi-Generational Living..The New Way of Living?

Photo: Matt Jones via Unsplash

Multi-generation households, or in other words, households that include at least three different generations, are the fastest growing type of home in Canada. A few of the factors contributing to this rise are: increasingly high single dwelling housing costs, vast migration to dense urban areas, young adults living at home longer, and an ageing population resulting in elders moving in with their children.

With one-bedroom rental rates sitting at $2,020 in Toronto and $2,000 in Vancouver, it is no surprise that more young adults are moving back home. According to the 2016 Census by Statistics Canada, 42.1% of young adults (aged 20-34) are living with at least one parent, a 20.3% increase since the last recorded number in 2001. The highest percentages were seen in Toronto and Vancouver where there is an apparent affordable housing crisis. In these cities, where housing prices have more than doubled, nearly half of young adults are living with their parents or grandparents. According to the Statistics Canada report, “the high proportion of young adults living with their parents is most likely the result of a combination of economic realities, including the high cost of housing, and cultural norms that favour young adults living with their parents for longer.”

Photo: Suhyeon Choi via Unsplash

Multi-family living arrangements are also very common among immigrant populations, which are a major contributor to Canada’s growing population. According to the Government of Canada, Canada is expected to welcome 310,000 new permanent residents by the end of this year, 330,000 in 2019, and 340,000 in 2020. Many families who are living in a multi-generational home overseas, continue the living arrangement when they move to Canada. Two provinces, B.C. and Ontario, are home to the bulk of Canada’s immigration population, as many migrants look towards moving to large metropolitan areas.

Providing care for parents and/or grandparents amongst resident Canadians also lead to the increase of multi-generational living. Many families are seeing themselves move back home or inviting their elder family to live with them, as the Baby Boomers reach retirement. Alternatively, young couples with children also initiate this type of communal living in order to lessen the burden of childcare, due to daycare costs in Toronto climbing faster than anywhere else in the country. According to a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, fees for preschoolers in the GTA have the highest infant care fees, currently sitting at a median of $1,758 a month, or $21,096 a year, a service that can be replaced if Grandma or Grandpa moves in.

Photo: Josh Wilburne via Unsplash

The stigma that used to surround the idea of ‘living with your parents’ is diminishing. What used to be considered a sign of dependence, is now considered a sign of economic responsibility and care. There is a sense of shared understanding amongst many millennial Torontonians who are in this type of arrangement, as establishing any economic freedom in the 21st century has become progressively difficult. With housing costs, demographics, and sentiment unlikely to shift anytime soon, it is likely that the need for multi-family housing solutions will continue to rise. Luckily, according to PwC, two out of three new homes built are meant to house multi-family, up from less than half in the mid-2000s. Based on Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) last report, new multi-family housing is expected to increase 13% in 2018, while seeing a 45% decline in single-detached units. The divergence in housing starts is a good sign that Toronto at least understands the need for more of these types of residences.

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