Majority of Canadians aren’t living in their ideal home

There’s a reason we have the expression “dream home” – it’s not uncommon to dream of your ideal living space and to imagine what it might look like. It’s also becoming more common for Canadians to have to wait until their 50s to get into their ideal home, according to a new survey commissioned by CENTURY 21 Canada.

“While you would expect young adults may not be not living in their ideal situations as they work to establish themselves, it was striking that their satisfaction level didn’t improve significantly until people got into their 50s,” says Brian Rushton, executive vice-president of CENTURY 21 Canada.

The survey of 1,000 Canadian adults living in eight metropolitan centres across the country asked them how close their current living situation is to their ideal.

  • 41 per cent ranked their situation as close to their ideal
  • 43 per cent ranked their situation as moderately close to their ideal
  • 16 per cent ranked their situation as far from their ideal


Once age is factored in, the gulf widens considerably, with only a third of those aged 25 to 54 saying they are living in close to their ideal situation while a majority (56 per cent) of those aged 55+ said they are living in close to their ideal situation. Even in the 45 to 54 age range, about one in five said their living situation is far from their ideal – about the same percentage as young adults.

Preferred features of an ideal home

Almost half (49 per cent) of those surveyed identified type of home as one of their top two priorities when considering purchasing a new home, while 46 per cent identified location/neighbourhood as one of their top two considerations. Other factors include:

  • condition of home
  • size
  • proximity to amenities
  • age of home
  • proximity to transit

“This survey tells us that when people buy a home, they are buying a lifestyle,” Rushton says. “What that means varies widely with the individual, but it typically requires deciding what is most important within your budget and what compromises you’ll make to get as close to your own ideal living arrangement as possible.”

Type of home

Across all eight metropolitan areas, 65 per cent of Canadians identified a single-detached home as their ideal, with another 24 per cent identifying an apartment as their ideal. The remaining 11 per cent preferred a semi-detached home or other arrangement (such as a trailer or houseboat).

“It was also surprising that while two-thirds of Canadians told us a single-detached home is their ideal, a quarter preferred an apartment, primarily because they value a low-maintenance lifestyle,” Rushton shares.

The numbers varied by region, with only 52 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents preferring a single-detached house compared to 79 per cent in Calgary. Interest in single-detached houses peaks at ages 35 to 44, especially among those with children at home, declining afterwards. Single people and couples without children are more likely to prefer apartments.

Those who prefer a single-detached home identified a private and independent lifestyle, a yard, tranquility, space and privacy as their top reasons, while those who prefer apartments identified a hassle-free lifestyle and lower maintenance as their top reasons.

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