More Canadians are living with roommates, census shows

An increasing number of young Canadians are living with roommates, representing the fastest growing arrangement for people between ages 20 and 34 since 2001, new census data shows.

Across the country, 15 per cent of young adults were living with roommates or extended family when the national census was conducted last year, up from 11 per cent in 2001, according to data released by Statistics Canada Wednesday.

It’s a shift Statistics Canada says may be due to a need for financial help and a lack of affordable housing, as well as voluntary factors such as companionship or social support.

The findings were released among several packages of data on Wednesday, including a look at the growth of common-law relationships, new details about members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and data on income inequality in Canada — which decreased compared to the previous census, despite the split between the country’s rich and poor having widened out for decades.

That reversal, which Statistics Canada called a “striking” development, is not expected to last — with the agency noting the impact of temporary pandemic income support programs.

In its data on living arrangements, StatsCan found that across all age groups, there were more than 660,000 roommate households across the country — still a relatively small proportion, at four per cent of all households, but one that’s growing especially quickly in urban centres with large post-secondary institutions. There was a 12 per cent increase in roommate households found in the census data for both Kingston and Waterloo, Ont.

The new data bolsters a decades-long trend: the way Canadians are living is changing, whether by choice or by force. There are fewer one-family households than seen in the past, more multi-generational living, and vastly more people living solo — with double the amount of people aged 35 to 44 across Canada living alone in 2021 (10 per cent) compared to 1981 (5 per cent).

While solo living is up, with a record 4.4 million people found to be living alone in 2021, it’s a trend that’s taken hold least in Ontario — as the data agency points to the province’s higher average shelter costs, as well as higher numbers of young people still living with their parents.

Nearly half of young adults in Oshawa, Toronto, Windsor and Hamilton lived with at least one parent last year, which Statistics Canada again connected to high housing prices as well as other factors such as nearby post-secondary institutions, and higher shares of immigrant and racialized groups with a higher likelihood of co-residing with a parent.

Data from the 2021 census shows that the ages of adults who live with their parents have continued to skew older. Statistics Canada director of demography Laurent Martel says more adults are living with their parents in large urban centres, especially in Ontario, either out of necessity or preference. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

But after decades of growth, the number of young people living with a parent seems to have flatlined — with slight decreases last year in major urban centres such as Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto.

While growth has stalled, young people are living with their parents into older years.

A consistent 35 per cent of adults between 20 and 34 lived with their parents across Canada in both 2016 and 2021. However, in 2021, Statistics Canada found 46 per cent of young adults who were living with at least one parent were between 25 and 34, compared with 38 per cent in 2001.

More to come.


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