More millennials base dating decisions on property-buying prospects than looks, survey suggests

Canadian millennials are more likely to pick a future partner based on shared home-buying aspirations than on good looks, a new survey has found.

Only 2.8% said appearance was the most important quality, compared to 12.7% who cited property as tops

Christina Crowley-Arklie, right, is shown with husband, Andrew Arklie, and their two-year-old son, Blake. Shared goals about owning property were a big part of what brought the couple together early into dating. (Haley Gill/HG Photography)

Canadian millennials are more likely to pick a future partner based on shared home-buying aspirations than on good looks, a new survey has found.

Beyond the Bricks, a survey commissioned by HSBC, found just 2.8 per cent of respondents said that appearance was their top consideration when choosing whom to date, compared to 12.7 per cent who said a property-related quality topped their list.

Of course, property goals and home ownership weren't the only things millennials picked as their No. 1 priority when it comes to the dating pool.

Of the 1,077 Canadian adults who filled out the online survey — conducted by research firm Toluna between Nov. 11 and Dec. 5, 2018 — 26.8 per cent of respondents said shared interests and hobbies is what they most look for in a prospective partner, followed by intelligence, at 16.9 per cent, and sense of humour, at 14.1 per cent.

Common financial goals in general also ranked high at 11.3 per cent.

Shared goals about what kind of home they'd own together and its location were top of mind for 9.9 per cent of respondents — things like living in a condo versus a house, or in the city versus the country.

Also on the home ownership front, 1.4 per cent of respondents said they based their dating decisions on whether a potential suitor is a current homeowner. For another 1.4 per cent, it was good enough if the eligible mate had good prospects to be a future homeowner. 

Those results don't surprise Christina Crowley-Arklie, who met her husband, Andrew, in 2006 when they were both students at the University of Guelph, in Guelph, Ont., where they reside today with their two-year-old son.

Both were pursuing bachelor of commerce degrees; hers with a focus on agricultural business and his in housing.

Christina Crowley-Arklie and Andrew Arklie work together to manage a rental property they own as an investment, cutting the grass and collecting rents. The couple also plans to renovate their Guelph, Ont., home, saying the cost of purchasing a larger house for their growing family is just too high. (Hayley Gill/HG Photography)

The two discussed their career and financial aspirations early into dating, Crowley-Arklie said, and one of Andrew's goals included investing in real estate. He bought an investment property in Guelph in 2009 — the year they graduated — and the two purchased a home together in 2012. 

"Owning real estate has been extremely important to us and our financial goals," she said, particularly given that it's not easy for millennials to achieve in today's market.

"To know that millennials now are not making much more than our parents were making, but now have to afford homes that are double, triple the price — it can be daunting." 

High anxiety over housing

The HSBC study found that 61 per cent of respondents said they feel anxious about buying a property.

That anxiety is understandable, said Barry Gollom, senior vice-president of retail banking and wealth management products for HSBC Canada.

"I actually qualify as the last of the baby boomers. The relative cost expense of buying a home versus when I was looking and my peers were looking, it's materially different."

The study found that 11.8 per cent of respondents said they had stayed in a bad relationship because they had bought a home with their significant other, and another 9.3 per cent had stuck around because they couldn't afford to buy alone.

When it comes to choosing who to date at the start of a relationship, though, Gollom said the high value millennials place on finding a housing-market-ready partner speaks to "the level of maturity among millennials, who, at times, are unfairly labelled as materialistic and superficial."

"I think what this really points to is that they're very practical and mature in terms of what is important to them," he said.

Gollom also said he was a bit surprised that looks ranked so far down the list.

"It was a little revealing for me. Where we saw that financial goals and property aspirations ranked ahead of appearance, it made me think that looks are fleeting, but your home can last a lifetime." 


Brandie Weikle is a senior writer for CBC News based in Toronto. She's a long-time magazine and newspaper editor and podcast host with specialities in family life, health and the workplace. You can reach her at


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