The last few years of the Toronto real estate market have thrown many things into doubt. It has also given a new life to many old ideas about housing.
In the post-war 1950s era, cookie cutter subdivisions dominated the GTA expansion. The idea of a multi-generational home slowly faded away, and was replaced by the nuclear family home. With two parents and children, the elderly and other family members were expected to get their own homes for their own nuclear families.
Toronto has started to show a massive change in these attitudes. With the current economics of the market, the limited supply of housing, new living styles and the rise of sharing technologies like AirBnB, it seems that we are coming to a new normal.
Before modern hotels existed, people would often stay at Inns and Public Houses. Like bed and breakfasts, where you would come down in the morning and share a meal with other guests hosted by the owners. Or you would stay at manor homes or famous lodging houses.
In even more ancient times people lived in walled cities, which had small cramped streets that one could barely drive a car through today. While we might consider these outdated, they offered a radically different living style with a sense of community almost unbelievable to our modern sensibilities. Truly knowing ones neighbours, all the owners and operators of shops and businesses. A true community experience.
In previous posts we have talked about land supply issues in the GTA, and the death of the single family home.
What do I think all of this will mean for people living in the GTA? A new shift in family living, and perhaps the replacement of the nuclear family itself.
Open the AirBnB website and look at Toronto. You will see hundreds of rooms, floors, apartments, condos and even entire single family homes available to be rented out. You also see on news sites, stories of multiple families buying larger homes together to co-live in. To most people on Earth that is normal, to us it could be the new normal.
This also could have an impact on the lives of seniors. Our parents along with many others are members of the baby boomer generation. This is the second largest generation ever behind ours. There are predictions that this generation, which is the richest ever, with access to advanced medicine, will live very long active retirements. This will be problematic as caring for such a large group for so long will put enormous pressure on our social support systems. There have been numerous studies that show social interaction do improve health and quality of life and not just for the elderly. Having all generations of a family living together can enrich every members life.
Retirement homes themselves are already very expensive and simply due to the large numbers of boomers, it may be prohibitively for them to all be in retirement residences. Thus the notion of live-in nanny may simply become live-in family.
It is easier than ever to run a bed and breakfast. One can get setup with AirBnB easily. This can allow the real estate economy to be more efficient. Even with overflows of visitors during large sporting or cultural events, where restrictions on hotel room supply can be a problem. On the reverse as well, lack of demand being a problem during off seasons with many hotel rooms becoming vacant.
Our single family home with the nuclear family is actually quite unusual in world history. In most of the world, boarding houses, hostels and multi-generational homes are quite common. With the rise of co-living and real-estate sharing, people living with their parents or in-laws, or visiting the city, we foresee a cultural and economic shift in the GTA that is here to stay. This shift will strengthen our overall sense of community which is always a good thing.
Until Next Time, The Perfect Lifestyle Is Up To You!