In Canada, baby boomers have the upper hand. According to a 2016 Census from Environics, people born between 1946 and 1965 currently outnumber all other generations in the country.
The census also showed that, for the first time in history, there are more seniors than children under 14. While the number of Canadians between ages 16 and 54 rose by 14%, the number of people older than 55 increased by 87% between 1996 and 2006.
But, these are more than just numbers. The demographic shift is significantly influencing the housing market. Here’s how baby boomers are transforming Canadian real estate.
The 2016 Census also showed that properties owned by people older than 55 are usually further away from business and financial centers. Compared to the residences in the bigger cities, these homes are more spacious and less expensive.
As they age, many boomers are considering rentals or senior-care facilities, while others are thinking about downsizing or buying a second home closer to city centers. The purpose of this transition is often related to their increasing need for accessibility and comfort, as opposed to space.
But, millennials and the Gen Z generation are eyeing the same properties. Their targets are small, affordable homes close to downtown – meaning that the newly available, roomy properties are not of interest to them. With both younger and older generations competing for the same homes in bigger cities, there is a lot of pressure on the condominium market.
The cities dominated by young people are seeing the biggest increase in senior populations. Moving closer to family is also on the seniors’ lists; thus, a growing number of them are moving into urban centers to be in the vicinity of their loved ones.
All these shifts could bring significant changes in the years to come. Considering how the population has changed between 2006 and 2016, as well as the correlation between baby boomers and home prices, we can begin to grasp how real estate trends might transform in Canada.
In BC, most baby boomers live outside the Greater Vancouver Area. The cities with the highest numbers of seniors are Penticton, West Vancouver, North Cowichan, Courtenay and Vernon. In all of them, seniors account for more than 40%.
Port Moody, Surrey, Port Coquitlam and Prince George are on the opposite side of the coin, with only 25% of their populations older than 55. Similarly, 28% of Vancouver residents are baby boomers.
When it comes to the correlation between seniors and home prices, the higher the number of people older than 55, the lower the price. The five priciest cities in Greater Vancouver have the lowest share of seniors. An exception to this is West Vancouver, where baby boomers are the second-highest population in the province, but real estate prices are skyrocketing.
Just as on the national level, newer cities are also recording fast increases in senior populations; Port Coquitlam and Port Moody boomer communities grew 46% and 39%, respectively, in 10 years.
Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are Canada’s youngest provinces, and all of their cities’ senior populations are less than 35%. The share of people older than 55 is only 12% in Wood Buffalo, AB, followed by Airdrie, AB, and Grande Prairie, AB, with 20%.
When it comes to the capitals, Edmonton, AB, is comprised of 24% baby boomers, while Regina, SK, stands at 26% and Winnipeg, MB, at 28%, making it the “oldest” capital in the Prairies.
The correlation between home prices and the number of seniors shows the same result here – the higher the number of baby boomers, the cheaper the price. An exception to this is Calgary, AB, where a quarter of the population is represented by seniors, but home prices are the highest in the region.
The younger cities are seeing a spike in senior population in the Prairies, as well. Okotoks, AB, and Wood Buffalo, B, have seen staggering increases.
The Greater Toronto, ON, area has the lowest share of people older than 55: only 18% in Milton, ON, followed by Brampton, ON (22%), and Ajax, ON (23%). On the opposite side, the cities with the highest share of seniors in Ontario are Kawartha Lakes (43%), Brockville (42%), and Owen Sound (40%).
Similar to other regions, Baby Boomers make up less than 30% of the populations in the capitals of Ontario, Toronto and Ottawa. And, the home prices drop as the population older than 55 becomes more numerous.
Ontario is aging, as well, with some of the youngest cities seeing an increase in senior population. During the last 10 years, Brantford, ON, recorded a boomer growth of 61%; Aurora, ON, noted 52%; and Clarence-Rockland, ON, and Pickering, ON, both saw 44% growth in Baby Boomer populations.
Milton, ON, is the exception to the rule. The senior population in the city has decreased by 3% since 2006.
The cities with the largest share of senior population in Quebec are Shawinigan, QC (46%), and Sorel-Tracy, QC (46%). Tying at 40% are: Cote-Saint-Luc, QC; Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, QC; Rimouski, QC; and Joliette, QC. Mirabel, QC, is the "youngest” city, with only 21% of its population older than 55 in 2016; Blainville, QC, was at 23%.
Although Cote-Saint-Luc, QC, has a numerous senior population; it was the only city to record a decrease since 2006.
Quebec is no exception to the rule: the higher the percentage of population older than 55, the lower the home prices.
The Atlantic Region shows a balance across the region with the lowest share of seniors in Halifax, NS, at 30%, and the highest in Cape Breton, NS, at 42%.
The region also shares the same rule as the other provinces, recording lower prices where there are more seniors. However, it doesn’t share the same dramatic spikes of increased population older than 55 in younger cities.
Baby boomers and seniors play a significant role in shaping real estate trends. Time will tell how these new shifts from owning to renting, downsizing or investing in real estate will influence the housing market.
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