Oakville Real Estate News

Living Alone In Canada

Blog by Joette Fielding | September 19th, 2014

Living Alone In CanadaPeople who live alone are the fastest-growing type of household in Canada. While one-person households accounted for only six per cent of households in 1941 and 13 per cent of households by 1971, the 2011 census shows they now represent 28 per cent of households.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) says in the 2013 Housing Observer that "as a consequence of population aging and the increased tendency to live alone, one-person households are expected to show the fastest pace of growth to 2036, making it the single biggest type of household by the 2020s."

The homeownership rate for one-person households is also on the rise. Between 1996 and 2006, it increased from 40 per cent to 48 per cent. During the same period, the overall homeownership rate went up by only five percentage points, to 68 per cent.

People who live alone include the never-married, separated, divorced and widowed -- population categories that have all increased since the 1970s. CMHC says the average age at which men first get married rose from 24.9 years in 1972 to 31.1 years in 2008, while for women it went from 22.5 years in 1972 to 29.1 years in 2008.

At younger ages, living alone is more common for men than for women, but by the age of 65, women are nearly twice as likely to live alone, says Statistics Canada.

Economist Julie Adès of the Conference Board of Canada says the census data shows a trend toward "fewer marriages, including common-law relationships. Canadians who have never been married and are not living in a common-law relationship make up a growing share of the total population. This share increased from 27.6 per cent in 2006 to 28 per cent by 2011."

Divorces in Canada rose from 30,000 in 1971 to 68,000 in 1981 and CMHC says the trend of non-senior adults living alone will also continue.

In its research paper Long-Term Household Growth Projections, CMHC says during the next two decades, "non-family households, the vast majority of which are households comprising one person, are expected to show the strongest pace of growth. Despite rising gains in longevity for both sexes, women are expected to continue outliving men, contributing to a growing number of one-person households."

It says: "With the oldest baby boomers now senior citizens and the other baby boomers headed that way in the decades to come, strong growth of one-person households is likely to continue as time and mortality continue to transform families.

"Given the gap between male and female life expectancy, the great majority of the one-person households thereby created will be women: in 2011, more than three-quarters of people aged 85 or older who lived alone were women."

Women in their 90s were also more likely to live alone than men -- 31.1 per cent compared to 22.2 per cent of men in their 90s.

From 1996 to 2011, the share of one-person households increased in all urban areas across Canada, while the share of couples with children declined. Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke and Quebec City in Quebec have the largest share of one-person households as a percentage of all households. Victoria, B.C., a popular retirement community, is next. At the other end of the list, Barrie and Oshawa, Ont. have the smallest percentage of one-person households.

So where do all of these singles live?

In 2006, of the 915,725 households that lived in owner-occupied condominiums, about 41 per cent were people living alone, says CMHC. About 52 per cent of one-person households rented their homes in 2006.

Multiple-unit buildings -- mostly condominiums -- have accounted for a rising share of new homes built in Canada for more than a decade. These units represented more than half of all housing completions from 2008 through 2012, says CMHC.

In Toronto and Vancouver, a lack of building lots means condos are virtually the only type of housing being built. Young people are being drawn downtown by employment opportunities, proximity to public transit and entertainment options. The size of condo units has been shrinking in recent years to accommodate a growing number of singles.

Seniors are also moving to smaller apartments and condos, but despite these trends, CMHC says single-detached homes are likely to remain the most common type of dwelling in Canada by 2036. In the Toronto area, real estate listings for detached homes are hard to come by as many baby boomers are deciding to stay in their homes for as long as possible. Many are renovating their homes rather than selling them and moving to smaller houses or condo units.

Through immigration and the impact of the echo-boom generation, the number of private households in the country is projected to reach between 16.3 million and 19.7 million by 2036, which will continue to support the detached home market.

Written by Jim Adair for http://www.realtytimes.com


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