An Immigrant’s Thoughts on Housing

Happy Newcomer Day, Canada!

Earlier this year, we received our Canadian Citizenship and I would like to offer some thoughts about Housing – by one of Canada’s newest citizens.

In almost any large city, families who live in central areas live in condos and apartments. In fact, outside of North America, it is very rare to have detached and semi-detached houses in the city centre or right next to a subway station. With that, you can understand how surprised I was when I moved to Toronto and realized how single-family houses occupy vast areas of the city core and near most of the subway stations.

According to Statistics Canada 2016 Census, more than half of Torontonians are immigrants (51.2%). This means, and I am generalizing to make a point, that more than half of Torontonians are not looking for the ‘backyard’ as the default form of housing

60% of the new immigrants to Canada belong to the “economic class,” which means they meet certain educational or professional experience requirements for entry. As housing in Toronto is less and less within reach of the middle class, newcomers (and all millennials, honestly) must make hard choices and sacrifice time commuting to and from work.

Because, Unfortunately, there is no real alternative. Few units are large enough for families, and when they are, they are very expensive.


Call for a culture shift

Why can’t we consider that housing can look different in Canadian cities and at the same time support the needs of families? For example in any European city apartments are designed for families, and kids have access to safe play areas in courtyards or in shared-streets that are designed to limit and slow cars. 

If we don’t change this mindset around development, when the common belief that condos are not the appropriate form of family-housing, Toronto will suffer even more from losing the vibrant demographic that makes up the city.