It’s a multigenerational family affair when it comes to living situations in Canada.
The number of multigenerational homes has been steadily on the rise in across the country in recent decades.
According to new census data from Statistics Canada (StatCan), the number of homes shared by multiple generations of a family, two or more families, or one family living with unrelated individuals has grown by 45% the past 20 years.
By 2021, these household types amounted to almost one million, making up 7% of all homes in Canada.
Close to one in 10 children up to age 14 were living in the same household as at least one of their grandparents in 2021, a figure that’s up 7% from 2001. Of the 553,855 children living with grandparents last year, 93% lived with at least one parent and at least one grandparent.
The trend is more prevalent in some parts of Canada compared to others. According to StatCan, multigenerational living appears to be more common among Indigenous households. In Nunavut, for example, one-third of children below the age of four live with at least one grandparent -- the highest in Canada. According to StatCan, communities with large South Asian populations tend to house more multigenerational households -- for example, Brampton, Ontario, where close to 30% of children under the age of five live in a household with grandparents.
On the bottom end of the spectrum, this figure is the lowest in Quebec, where only 5% of children under the age of five live in a household with grandparents.
The prevalence of multigenerational homes reveals everything from cultural preferences and immigration, to different housing markets and economic situations. Multigenerational living offers an alternative to long-term care homes or pricey home care for aging parents. But it also comes at a time when home prices and interest rates render the real estate market unattainable for young parents, who may move back in with their own parents for financial reasons.
With an aging population, heightened immigration, and a still-pricey housing market, it wouldn’t be surprising if the multigenerational living trend sticks around. Accommodating the shift is the increasing popularity of in-law suites -- an idea that has gained traction with the legalization of separate backyard garden suites.
But rather than a new trend, an increase in multigenerational living marks a return to times past -- to a tendency last seen at this height in the 1940s.
While the multigenerational housing trend is a notable one, it's not the fastest growing one in Canada on the living situation front. That title goes to roomies. Interestingly, however, more Canadians are living alone than ever before.