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TheRockies.Life Staff

Home Sweet Co-Home: A Solution to Soaring Prices

Skyrocketing home prices are compelling Canadians to rethink the very fabric of homeownership.

At some point, you could buy a home in the suburbs in Canada with a white picket fence, have 2.5 kids and live on a single income. At least, that was the story we told ourselves. 

But that’s now a dream of the past.

Owning a home on a single income or even a dual income is now nearly impossible for many people in this country.

What can you do if you can’t afford your own home?

Living with roommates has long been a workaround for those trying to get by with ever-rising real estate and rental costs. This was one well-trodden path for students and young people entering the workforce (e.g. think “Friends“).

But more often now, communal living arrangements are becoming the norm for many people in Canada, no matter their age or working experience.

Is single-family home ownership an impossible dream? Scott Web | Unsplash

“In an environment where home prices and interest rates have risen quickly and sharply, and where the threshold to qualify for a mortgage has become much more challenging, Canadians are pooling their resources and buying homes together,” Royal LePage chief operating officer Karen Yolevski said in a statement to Global News.

While friends or families living together is not a new concept, the choice to share or own housing jointly is “increasingly made for financial reasons.”

A recent survey by Royal LePage shed some interesting light on who people choose to buy homes with.

Buying with your partner is surprisingly unpopular! Nationally, only 1 in 10 co-owners own a place with their significant other.

Buying with your parents, however, is becoming all too normal – nearly 8 out of 10 co-owners in the 25-35 age category share their home with mom and dad.

“Census data shows that multigenerational households are now the fastest growing household type in Canada,” Yolevski remarked.

If you think this sounds like typical millennials, know that the number only drops below half of all co-owners once they hit over 55.

Co-Housing: A Viable Alternative?

Buying with friends or even someone you have no relations with is also rising. This demographic makes up about 1 in 10 co-owners in all age groups. 

For younger Canadians, it’s even higher. A quarter of 18-24-year-olds who’ve purchased a home bought it with a friend or someone they had no prior relations with.

Co-housing communal space. Dwell.com

This may seem like a bold move to more conservative thinkers, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and younger people are simply playing the cards they’re dealt.

“By dividing the cost of a home between more people, Canadians can not only get their foot on the property ladder more easily but also expand their home search to more desirable locations or larger properties that may not have been accessible with their budget alone,” Yolevski said.

There’s also simply an aspect of creating “community” that plays a big role in bringing friends or people with similar values together to invest in housing.

In August, a new “co-housing” building with 26 suites opened in Edmonton. Residents who’ve bought into the concept will share a communal kitchen, rooftop patio, and other spaces.

Co-housing originated in Denmark in the 1960s. The idea was for people to live in private suites but come together and interact in communal areas for events, parties and more.

Thea Williams is one resident who was firmly drawn to the concept. “If you’ve ever been part of a community with shared values like that, [people] who are learning together and supporting each other, you know many hands make light work,” she told Global News.

She and her two young children have just moved into their new home. However, priced at about $600,000 for a three-bedroom unit, it’s not cheaper than buying an average house in the city, but it comes with the benefits of a shared community vision.

While co-housing feels like a win for Williams and is an excellent financial decision for many others – only some have someone they could feasibly purchase a home with, and some want private space.

With housing prices rising, many people are forced into considering co-ownership because they can’t afford to buy alone.

Alberta NDP critic for housing Janis Irwin says the United Conservative Party (UCP) government is in a housing crisis that “even Jason Nixon can’t deny.”

“Working Alberta families are being forced to dedicate more and more of their income to keep a roof over their heads, sometimes at the sacrifice of other necessities,” she said in a statement to CityNews Calgary.

While communal living may seem ideal for some, personal space – if you can afford it – is necessary for others.

No matter how you choose to live, affordability is now most Canadians’ leading obstacle in housing. Personal choice has fallen further down the list due to price barriers.

Will suburbia be a thing of the past? Breno Assis | Unsplash

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