Earlier this year I asked readers to submit story ideas for this space. Chris Dulaba, a planner/urban designer with Stantec Consulting in Edmonton responded with this article. It’s insightful, and I hope you all take something interesting away from it.
How the Baby Boomers and Generation Y will Shape Housing in the Coming Decade
Over the next decade we are expecting to experience a significant shift in housing demand. The primary drivers behind this will be the Baby Boomers (9.6 million Canadians) and Generation Y (9.2 million Canadians) which are two of the largest demographic cohorts representing over 56% of the Canadian population.
Future housing demands from these two groups are expected to be diverse. On one hand we have the boomers who are starting to entire their retirement years and are expected to downsize from their current home. On the other hand we have generation Y who are entering the housing market.
As the boomers begin to retire they’ll likely be looking for smaller and more maintenance free housing. According to a recent survey completed by TD Canada Trust, 4 out of 5 boomers plan to move to a smaller home.
Generation Y, many who are just starting out in their careers or finishing post secondary will be seeking housing that is more affordable.
These factors are part of the reason why we are experiencing a growing demand for smaller housing, from single detached to multi-family product.
Another important factor fuelling this demand is household formation. The boomers and generation Y are the main cohorts behind the rapid growth in single and two-person households, which have become the fastest growing household types. Much of this has to do with more boomers becoming empty nesters and an increasing proportion of generation Y delaying marriage and having families.
But a shift in demand for smaller housing is not the only change we are witnessing.
Research has indicated that an increasing proportion of boomers and generation Y are interested in living in communities that offer a high level of walkability or have an ‘urban’ feel to them. A survey by TD Canada Trust of younger first-time buyers concluded that 64% preferred urban locations versus 50% of those aged 55+.
This trend is already apparent given the increasing demand for housing in urban neighbourhoods and mixed use suburban town centres.
One conclusion that can be drawn from this is that housing will need to evolve in order to remain attractive and to appropriately respond to changing household formations. The one size fits all notion does not exist anymore. Diversity is key. The growing desire to live in communities that offer a high level of walkability bodes well for developments located in trendy urban neighbourhoods or suburban town centres.
Chris Dulaba is a planner/urban designer with Stantec Consulting in Edmonton, Alberta. He can be contacted via at firstname.lastname@example.org