Toronto

Toronto millennials are living at home to save money, not because they're lazy, survey finds

A new report from the University of Waterloo reveals nearly 80 per cent of young adults who live with their parents do so to save money, be it to pay off debt, save up for a mortgage, or to ward off the financial sting of job insecurity.

80% of young adults live with their parents for financial reasons, Waterloo research shows

Daniel Debaissy, 23, travels an hour-and-a-half by GO train every day to get from his parents' house in Brampton to his job in downtown Toronto. But with a goal of buying his own home, he says living with mom and dad right now is worth the hassle. (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

For Daniel Debaissy, living at home in his early 20s is a no-brainer.

Sure, he has to travel an hour-and-a-half by GO train every day to get from his parents' house in Brampton to his job in downtown Toronto. But with $15,000 in student loans and a goal of buying his own home, the 23-year-old says living with mom and dad is worth the hassle.

"This is definitely a long-term plan," Debaissy says. "With the market right now, who can really afford to buy a house?"

And he's not the only millennial living at home for financial reasons.

A new report from the University of Waterloo reveals nearly 80 per cent of young adults who live with their parents do so to save money.

And many others are sticking it out because they can't afford Toronto's pricey rent, need to pay off debt, or want to ward off the financial sting of job insecurity — which the researchers say puts to bed stereotypes about lazy, live-at-home millennials (who have no money because they're avocado toast addicts, apparently).

Instead, it's more about coping with rising housing costs and precarious work, explains researcher Nancy Worth, a geography professor at the university.

"If you're unsure that you'll have a job that will pay your next mortgage payment, or your next rent on the first of the month, living at home is a way of mitigating that insecurity," she says.

Economic reasons why young people in the GTA are still living at home, according to a survey by the University of Waterloo. (University of Waterloo)

Shared care-giving, cultural norms also factors

Worth's GenY at Home report builds on the latest census data, which revealed that nearly half of young adults in the GTA live with parents — much higher than the Canadian average of roughly 35 per cent. Her team surveyed more than 700 young adults living at home to figure out the burning question: Why live with your 'rents?

Alongside the financial reasons, Worth says other factors include shared care-giving, cultural norms, and simply wanting to be at home. 

"Especially for the South Asian community in Toronto, living at home is quite normal and expected, and really reinforces the sense of intergenerational family," she says.

As someone who's both Lebanese and a member of the Druze faith, Debaissy says culture is definitely part of his reason for staying with his parents. "For us, we're used to getting married and moving out," he says.

The study's author, Nancy Worth, is a professor in the department of geography and environmental management at the University of Waterloo. (Submitted by Nancy Worth)

The Waterloo survey also found living with their parents is not a burden for most young people, with 70 per cent saying they're satisfied, or very satisfied, with their lives while living at home.

Debaissy says he's lucky to have parents who already live in the GTA — the place to be for jobs in his field — and doesn't mind the home-cooked meals.

But he stresses that dealing with early wake-ups every weekday for work, and spending $400 a month on transit while paying off his loans, means it's definitely not a free ride.

"It's not like I have nothing to pay for," he says. "And I'm not sitting there like a bum."

About the Author

Lauren Pelley is a CBC News reporter based in Toronto. Currently covering how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting Canadians, in Toronto and beyond. Contact her at: lauren.pelley@cbc.ca

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