Gen-Zer says living with parents was once a choice — now it's a necessity
'Buying a home in Canada right now feels like a fantasy,' says Wasif Haseeb
Over the past few months, I've found myself asking every twenty-something Canadian I meet the same question: "What's your housing situation?"
About half of them, eight people, told me they currently live at home with their parents. Some of them told me they actually moved back home because of COVID-19. And the other seven said they lived with their partners, roommates or by themselves.
Within my South Asian community, living with your parents well into your twenties and thirties is pretty normal. Most of my friends and relatives lived with their parents until they got married, and some continued to even after that. It's tradition to live under one roof to take care of our parents in their old age.
However, many gen-Zers and millennials from different cultural backgrounds told me they still live at home too. Something that once felt exclusive to certain cultures has now become a reality for many young Canadians.
The reason? Housing in Canada isn't affordable anymore.
My family recently moved from Winnipeg to Hamilton, Ont. where a one-bedroom apartment costs about $1,500 a month, according to a February 2022 Canada-wide analysis by Rentals.ca, based on the asking prices of the available rentals listed on the site, which can include everything from basement apartments and condos to whole, detached houses. And the average cost of a home in Hamilton is now $1.1 million, statistics from the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington also revealed in February. These prices are a gut punch.
While I lived at home by choice, both for cultural reasons and to save money, I now find myself at age 28 wanting to move out on my own.
Striking out on my own in southern Ontario, where my family lives, doesn't feel like a viable option.
There's no way I'm going to be able to afford to buy a house in Hamilton. And if I started renting, who knows how long it would take for me to save up enough money to buy a house or even a condo. I now feel stuck at home rather than choosing to live here.
When I was younger, I always wanted to move to bigger cities like Toronto or Vancouver, but now I'm assessing cities solely for affordability and not much else. Cities like Calgary, Edmonton, and my hometown of Winnipeg seem to be my best options.
Beyond just needing my own space, I want a change of scenery too. The options are limited though, as housing costs in those smaller cities are also shooting up in price. I worry that eventually I'll be priced out of those markets too. The news is depressing. The average Canadian house price is $816 thousand, a jump of 20 per cent over last year, the Canadian Real Estate Association recently found.
Maybe I'm naive to think that if I lived in one of the so-called affordable cities in Canada that I, too, could become a homeowner within a couple of years of serious saving. I constantly feel like I'm in a race with housing prices —as I save up more money, housing prices keep going up disproportionately.
Buying a home in Canada right now feels like a fantasy.-Wasif Haseeb
My generation works just as hard as the generations before us. We expected to be able to buy our own homes like our parents and grandparents did. But buying a home in Canada right now feels like a fantasy.
Moving out of your family's home at 18 may still be a reality for some Canadians, but it still isn't for many of us. Some stay at home for cultural reasons, and others stay for financial reasons — or for people like me, it's both.
Living with your parents is no longer just a cultural norm, it's the new norm for all young Canadians.
But it shouldn't be our only option.
This essay is a part of the series, Unlocked: Housing featuring stories by young Canadians from the CBC Creator Network. These personal stories, produced primarily by gen-Zers and millennials, reveal the challenges young Canadians face finding affordable housing, their creative solutions and their hopes for the future. You can read more stories here.