Number of Calgary renter households growing faster than number of owners, says census

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In Calgary the number of renters has grown more than twice as fast as the number of homeowners, according to Statistics Canada. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC - image credit)
In Calgary the number of renters has grown more than twice as fast as the number of homeowners, according to Statistics Canada. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC - image credit)

In the last decade, the number of Calgarians who rent their homes has grown much faster than the number of people who own them, according to new census data.

Since 2011, the number of renters in the city has grown 37.3 per cent, while the number of homeowners has grown by about 15.9 per cent.

The situation mimics a national trend where home ownership is becoming gradually less common, especially among young adults.

In 2011, 50.6 per cent of Calgarians between 25 and 29 owned their homes. In 2021, it was about 34.8 per cent.

For Calgarians between 30 and 34, the rate of home ownership dropped from roughly 65.8 per cent to 55.2 per cent.

The cohort between 35 and 39 also saw a dip, from about 71.9 per cent home ownership in 2011 down to 66.5 per cent last year.

Aaron Gorski, an analyst with Statistics Canada, says the trend may, in part, reflect younger people's preference to live downtown — and the type of housing that's being built in urban areas.

"In these downtown areas, you see a lot more condos, a lot more high-rise apartment buildings, and this is going to also, I think, factor into these changing tenure demographics," said Gorski.

He noted that since 2016, the number of condominiums in Calgary has grown by about 19 per cent. According to the latest census, about 43 per cent of the city's condos are rented.

Economics professor Anupam Das believes the trend is largely driven by issues of economic uncertainty and affordability.

"To me, it seems like that it's simply cost-benefit analysis — they do not have enough income to make that long commitment of owning a house," said Das, a professor at Mount Royal University.

Submitted by Anupam Das
Submitted by Anupam Das

That's been the case for both Raelle Chauvin and Heather Gibson.

Chauvin, who works at a Calgary flower warehouse, has looked into buying but doesn't think she'd be approved at her salary unless she was married.

"It's an affordability thing, to rent over buying a home," said Chauvin, 30, who's been paying rent since she aged out of the foster care system as a teenager. She noted housing insecurity is a frequent challenge for former foster care kids.

Submitted by Heather Gibson
Submitted by Heather Gibson

Gibson, 26, had been on track to buy a place of her own until COVID-19 hit and her earnings as a travel agent took a nosedive.

"So now I'm not on track to being able to afford even, like, a little townhouse or a condo without living paycheque to paycheque," said Gibson, who is living with her parents and paying rent while she saves up.

In its analysis, Statistics Canada noted that rising inflation throughout 2021 and 2022 has continued to affect Canadians' spending habits and their ability to afford day-to-day expenses like housing.

According to the agency's springtime Portrait of Canadian Society survey, Canadians aged 15 to 29 (53 per cent) and 30 to 39 (39 per cent) were most likely to be "very concerned" about their ability to afford housing.