A version of this blog first appears on REALTOR.ca Living Room, your source for all things home—and perfect content to share with your clients.
Multi-generational living—where two or three generations of a family live under the same roof—continues to grow in Canada and the real estate market is taking note.
According to Statistics Canada, multi-generational households are the fastest growing type of households in the country. Between 2001 to 2016, multi-generational households rose 37.5%, which was well above the median increase (21.7%) for all households.
From an ageing population (more seniors living with their children and grandchildren) to increasing levels of immigration, there are a number of factors influencing the demand.
“I think of it as going back to times of yore, where parents are now living with their children,” says Pauline Aunger, REALTOR®, broker and former president of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). “What we’re seeing is a widowed parent coming back to live with their children.”
Increasingly, retired parents are selling their homes and moving into their children’s in-law suites, allowing them to play a bigger role in their children’s and grandchildren’s lives.
But while older parents moving in with their children is the most common generation-combination, extended families purchasing homes together—whether siblings or with extended family like cousins—is also part of the growing phenomenon.
Indigenous and immigrant families, which account for a growing share of Canada’s population, are more likely to live with their extended families. In 2016, multi-generational households were most common in Nunavut (12.2%) and the Northwest Territories (4.3%), followed by Ontario (3.9%) and British Columbia (3.6%).
The two largest markets for multi-generational households are Toronto and Vancouver. Besides both cities having high proportions of immigrants, they’re also Canada’s priciest housing markets, where sharing expenses might make a lot of financial sense.
Homebuilders have responded by offering homes accommodating multi-generational living. “We definitely see opportunity in providing multi-generational living options to our customers,” says Justin Castelino, marketing manager at Brookfield Residential in Calgary.
Castelino says fully developed basement suites are popular because they provide a sense of independent living while also maintaining a connection to the rest of the house. Those suites typically have separate entrances, their own kitchen and full bathroom, bedrooms and living area.
Multi-generational living has a lot of benefits. It fosters a sense of familial and cultural connection—keeping families closer together. Another key driver is cost. Sharing household expenses can make a lot of financial sense for big families.
Keep in mind, however, there are also costs associated with buying suitably large abodes with multiple configurations. Your clients can get a better idea of what their family can buy using REALTOR.ca’s Affordability Calculator.
For example, Castelino says a traditionally developed basement could cost $25,000 to $30,000 but adding a self-contained suite can run up to the $40,000 to $50,000 range. And of course, there will be additional hydro, maintenance, insurance and other costs to consider.
Additionally, the greater the number of people living in a home, the greater the challenges; often, a healthy dose of patience is needed. This living arrangement is best suited for families who get along.
Have you helped a family find the perfect multi-generational home? Tell us about your experience in the Comments.