Are you an independent, self-fulfilled, pro-solo person?
Single households are on the rise in Canada. Whether from divorce, death, or by choice, single households now outnumber other demographic groups. According to the most recent census from Stats Canada, single households now comprise just over 28 per cent of the population. This figure has doubled in the last 35 years. And another telling fact - singletons are incredibly diverse - ranging in age, occupation and sex. Stats Canada has also found the rate of single households has increased most rapidly in the age group of 35 to 64 years. You may be surprised by some of the number is this article: "More Canadians Live Alone Than Ever Before: StatsCan Report”.
There are several associated trends that accompany an increase in singletons. Today, women are having fewer children, and are choosing to have them later in life. Moreover, the median age of a person's first marriage is increasing. According to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center, among those who have never married, most say they are open to a life partner but are in no rush to find them.
Housing Evolves (To Meet Homeowner Needs)
Canadian Housing has not only evolved over time to match tastes, trends, and technology, but also to reflect socio-economic and demographic shifts. Here's one of my recent posts on my site Houseporn.ca - which celebrates architecture, design, landscape, products and real estate in Canada - called Multi-Generational Living, Co-Housing, & Laneway Dwellings Are Trending In Canada. There can be any number of housing trends emerging across the country, in response to the changing dynamics of our shelter industry, including the availability and affordability of housing.
** In fact - case in point - these days there's buzz about possible new housing trends incited by the pandemic. We blog about it here: How COVID-19 Will Likely Change How We Design Our Homes. **
Our home design has also changed over time. For example, with a lot of urban housing stock in Canada exceeding 100 years old, these vintage properties are increasingly being renovated and retrofitted. Dating from the Victorian and Edwardian eras - these dwellings had formal rooms as monikers of status, to keep servants separate from residents, and because they were easier and economical to heat. Want to learn more about historical Canadian housing? Consider reading my posts on Bay & Gable Victorian Architecture In Toronto - and - Edwardian Residential Architecture In Toronto. Over the past fifty years, these traditional housing configurations are being transformed in favour of the more fashionable open concept layout, where large spaces combining lounging, dining and cooking are in one environment. These entertainment friendly layouts have their own evolution, which I explore in my post On The History - And Popularity - Of The Open Concept Space Plan.
As I wrote in Gentrification, Densification, And The History Of Toronto Real Estate, "it was the mid-twentieth century that Toronto saw a huge change in its urban landscape. Swelling under massive population growth, parts of the city began to reform, and higher population density gave birth to new housing types. Not only was this massive growth a major proponent in the creation of social housing, but it also incited the ascension of the high-rise rental market in the 1950s through 1970s; this new housing frontier quickly became home to a generation of swinging singles of every culture, challenging the conception of domestic arrangements and forever changing traditional domestic household structures. As a generation postponed marriage and child-rearing, a demographic shift in housing occurred; singles began renting in complexes specifically catering to them, instead of remaining in the family home until marriage. This is when the ‘bright lights, big city’ love affair (think Mary Tyler Moore in her 70s sitcom) of downtown living began. I document an example of this trend succeeding and then failing in my post, A Mini-History on St. James Town. This boom took place both within the downtown core - as you can see in the mid and high-rises in The Annex, Yonge/St. Clair, Bathurst/Eglinton, High Park and across East York - but it also exploded in the suburbs. Many of these towers today are in a state of decay, which has prompted new initiatives like this post on Houseporn.ca called The Tower Renewal Project In Toronto Led By ERA Architects.
In the 1980s, we also experienced the emergence of mid and high-rise condominium housing in the City of Toronto over the past 50 years. Originally developed as larger 'houses-in-the-sky' for a maturing population, over the span of my career - now 26 years selling property in the original City of Toronto - this housing type shifted from one of luxury housing to one geared to affordability, catering to the singles and investors markets through the mass development of efficient one bed and one bed + den suites. And they've been consistently snapped up, in part because the prices have historically aligned with the purchasing power of the professional single buyer, and also because these city centre buildings have been in locations singles favour.
Amenities, Amenities, Amenities
The value of real estate - as a 'location location location' mantra for city centre property - is all about proximity to amenities. By the same token, the quality of life of a single person is greatly enhanced by being close to places they can socially engage. I couldn't find any statistics that shared whether singles interact with urban life more than those who are attached, but from my own experience (someone who leans to being an introvert), I know my health and well-being is improved by interacting with people in my neighbourhood on a daily basis.
For myself, like many singles, being a bike ride or stroll to village amenities like a grocer, baker, cafe, and drug store is a must. Easy access to entertainment, health and fitness, and shops make life easier, as well as being near public transport and major roadway arteries to hobbies and other interests. And even if you are a bit more of a homebody, this is a significant piece of mind to have supportive amenities nearby for when you do wish to venture out.
Each of Toronto’s 100+ neighbourhoods offer something unique. For singletons, it’s all about synergy and social opportunity. Here is a great article listing some of the best prospects for single homebuyers: “The Best Neighbourhoods In Toronto For Singles Looking To Mingle”
Plan For Today, With An Eye To Tomorrow
Just because you are single today, doesn’t mean you'll be single indefinitely. While it’s always a good idea to pick a home that suits your needs for today, in terms of layout, location and housing type, for those who can afford it, I recommend purchasing a space that can potentially accommodate another. Does the home that you are looking at open up the possibility to be altered if you needed more space? Alternatively, is the home in a sweet location that will help to preserve and grow the asset value when you choose to sell if your housing needs change?
If you are buying a condominium (which many singles do) opt for condos with thoughtful layouts, excellent onsite amenities, quality outdoor space (How To Elevate The Value Of Your Outdoor Urban Space), and stylish finishes, all of which will help your unit to stand out in the resale market down road.
With no-fault divorce commonplace now and a social climate that is more supportive to young people pursuing other goals and deferring marriage until later in life, single households will continue to grow. Housing that suits singles today will continue to be in demand tomorrow - which helps to improve the upside of a strategic real estate investment.In fact, here's a post by InvestmentExecutive.com: “Singles: A Growing Demographic”
Setting The Budget
No question, the financial responsibility of owning a home is less of a burden when you’ve got two incomes in a household. Not only does this increase your cash flow and your buying power, but it also helps to mitigate risk. If one member of the household lost their job, you could potentially fall back on a second income to get by in the interim. But when you are relying on one income, you need to take a slightly different approach. In a city like Toronto where affordability is already paper-thin, it can be a tough go on a single income and the prospect of shouldering the responsibility on your own can be challenging (which is why the reliance on The Bank Of Mom and Dad is on the rise).
Make sure when you are setting your house hunting budget that you leave plenty of wiggle room. It’s a good idea to make sure that you’ve got cash emergency savings on hand and keep your debt load (i.e. your mortgage and your consumer debt together) manageable. When you don’t have a partner to bounce ideas off of, whether to confirm your intuition or be the voice of reason when it comes to your house hunt, it is even more essential to surround yourself with support. Share your journey with an experienced realtor. Involve your friends and family in the pursuit of your housing dreams.
If you're part of the Milennial cohort and trying to budget for your first purchase, this is one of my past blogs I think you'll find useful: Dear Urbaneer: How Can Millennials Possibly Afford To Buy Real Estate?
And here is an excellent piece in BNN Bloomberg that is a great compliment to this Homewatch post. It's called: Micro-Condos And Ice-Cream Pints: How Businesses Cater To Canada’s Singles Market.
Are you evaluating your options in your house hunt, and could use some guidance in matching property type to your specific needs? As a seasoned realtor in the original City of Toronto, my team and I can offer unparalleled advice in your housing search. Please know we are here to help!
Have questions? Don't hesitate to contact Steve for more information!
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Have questions? Don't hesitate to contact Steve for more information!
Thanks for reading!
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 322-8000
- we're here to earn your trust, then your business -
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*Love Canadian Housing? Check out Steve's Student Mentorship site called Houseporn.ca which focuses on architecture, landscape, design, product and real estate in Canada!