Why Families in Greater Vancouver Are Embracing Multi-Generational Living

Why Families in Greater Vancouver Are Embracing Multi-Generational Living

With the average price of a Metro Vancouver home rising above $1 million More than twice as expensive as the national average — residents who want to stay in their hometown are having to get creative. In re-evaluating our approach to living arrangements, an increasing number of Vancouverites are adopting multi-generational living.

Defined as a living situation with three or more generations, multi-generational living has traditionally been more common among immigrant families, especially those coming from cultures in which it is seen as normal. This living arrangement has become increasingly prevalent in Greater Vancouver, with 10.7% of Vancouver residents and nearly 20% of Surrey residents living in multigenerational homes according to the Financial Post.

Although multi-generational living has not been a convention of North American living in recent years, this wasn’t always the case. In 1940, as reported by Forbes, approximately 25% of Americans lived in multi-generational households. Following World War II, this number declined (reaching as low as 12% in 1980), as American families began to adopt a new lifestyle. Since then, the proportion of Americans living in multi-generational homes has risen again, reaching 19% in 2014.

Initially driven by the 2008 economic downturn and subsequent rise in housing prices, multi-generational living has certainly given families more financial flexibility, both for seniors on a fixed income and families trying to manage expenses. On a community scale, it uses living space more efficiently and results in less demand for housing, resulting in more sustainable communities. In addition to the financial benefits, families are also realizing that multi-generational living offers other significant advantages for each generation of the family.

Busy parents can rely on the grandparents for childcare, saving up to $16,000 per year, per child and often resulting in improved psychological effects for their children.

Forbes cites a 2008 study on 1,500 teenagers by the University of Oxford, which found that “those with a high level of involvement with their grandparents had fewer emotional and behavioral problems”. It also makes it convenient for grandparents to prepare meals (an especially attractive option for families whose time constraints sometimes force them to compromise on quality or healthy foods).

By becoming more involved in the lives of their children and grandchildren, grandparents can avoid social isolation, a factor which the Vanier Institute of the Family says plays an important role in the health of seniors, particularly those who are widowed. Multi-generational living is also advantageous for seniors when they encounter health issues, allowing their family to support them in the comfort of their own home. Experts have commented that the key to successful multi-generational living is having these conversations ahead of time and making proactive decisions, rather than waiting for a family crisis to happen.

In Vancouver, lane homes have become increasingly popular in recent years as a form of multi-generational housing. These are essentially small homes built at the back of a property with an existing home and can be used as additional living space for children, grandparents, and other relatives, or to generate additional rental income. Lane homes are an attractive option for families who want to take advantage of the benefits of multi-generational living without sacrificing independence, a particularly important value for many North Americans.

My Lane Home, a builder in Vancouver, offers homeowners a wide variety of customizable options to design state-of-the-art lane homes that are both attractive and functional.

With innovative developers like My Lane Home and strong support from the city, lane homes have a bright future in Vancouver. By employing new housing arrangements like lane homes, Vancouverites are finding ways to adjust to life in a difficult housing market. Multi-generational living is a solution that provides families with greater financial flexibility, and many are realizing that it offers tremendous benefits beyond that.

Modular or pre-fab homes have come a long way, and offer many perks to prospective home owners

Many people still associate manufactured or modular homes with the conventional trailer or mobile home. In fact, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Today there is very little difference in both the look and livability of a manufactured/modular home compared to a traditionally constructed home.

PNE Prize Home is a Modular Home

The PNE Prize Home is one of the best examples of a new manufactured home. The home is a modular design built by Langley-based Britco Structures. Its modules are built in one of Britco Structure’s climatically controlled manufacturing plants to exacting standards. They are then trucked to the PNE site and placed together on a temporary foundation.

When the prize is awarded, the modules will be separated and transported to the new location to be placed on a permanent foundation.

Advantages of Modular Homes

While the majority of modular homes are not as elaborate as the PNE Prize Home, the concept of modular housing offers numerous advantages to the typical home owner.

  1. Multiple Styles: With the building technology available today, almost any style of home – from a rancher to a basement model truss floor design – can be built. Designs can be easily customized and the most up-to-date floor plans and finishes are available. These homes are built in advanced manufacturing plants involving stringent timelines and competitive pricing.
  2. Energy Efficiency: Manufactured/modular homes are built to the highest standards of energy efficiency and can include high-efficiency furnaces and heat pumps to reduce your carbon footprint on the environment and your utility bills.
  3. Reduced Waste: 
Factory manufacturing of modular home components means less material transport, allows for the most effective use of energy and materials, and reduces waste.
  4. Certification: All of these homes must meet all applicable building codes – the National Building Code and Provincial/Regional Building Codes – as well as be certified to Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards. The certification label affixed to each home gives consumers confidence that the home meets every code in the book.
  5. Improved Productivity: Environmentally controlled factories allow the sequence of assembly to be altered substantially to improve working conditions and productivity. Bathroom fixtures, furnaces, water heaters, floor coverings, etc., are all installed before the walls and roof structure are put in place. The sequencing of assembly on site-built homes is generally dictated by the weather. That means that rather than focusing on working conditions and construction efficiencies, the first priority is building and weather-proofing the walls and roof to resist the elements.

When purchasing your next home, make sure to investigate what manufactured and modular housing options may be available you.

A place to call home – Canada’s retiring boomers hope to stay put, despite potential health issues: RBC poll

TORONTO, Oct. 24, 2013 /CNW/ – Staying in their own homes and paying for home care as needed is by far the most appealing option (83 per cent) for Canadian Boomers as they head into retirement and consider future living arrangements that go along with aging. This is followed by living in a retirement residence with care provided (50 per cent), with both these options ranking well ahead of the possibility of living with family members who could assist with home care (24 per cent), according to the RBC 2013 Retirement Myths & Realities Poll.

“Remaining in familiar surroundings – in a home of their own, in their current neighbourhood and close to family and friends – is definitely how Canadian Boomers wish to live when future health changes occur,” noted Amalia Costa, Head, Retirement Strategies & Successful Aging, RBC. “Taking future health care needs and related finances into account when planning for retirement will help ensure Canadians can enjoy the retirement lifestyle they have in mind.”

The annual poll also highlighted that, for those who are already retired, a decision to move out of their home was most often triggered by a change in their health (66 per cent), rather than for downsizing reasons, such as a need for less space (57 per cent) or to free up financial equity in the home (36 per cent).

“Making the decision to leave the family home is never an easy one and there is even more to consider when the move is prompted by changes in health,” noted Audrey Miller, Managing Director of Elder Caring Inc. “The good news is there are so many options now available, from condos and seniors’ apartments – for those who may be finding the maintenance of their home to be a challenge – to supportive retirement residences and long-term care facilities that offer various levels of support and medical care. You just need to take time to do your research and the RBC Advice Centre is a good place to start.”

Advice related to key financial and lifestyle considerations for important residential decisions forms part of a new RBC Advice Centre online resource, “Seniors Finance and Caregiving”. These materials are designed to help Canadians who are working through their own health care related options, as well as those who may be assisting aging parents or other family members or friends.

“Many older retirees want to live as independently as possible despite health changes, but the reality is you may not have that choice,” added Costa. “You should explore your future home options now, before the urgency of a health care event limits your choices. If you are younger and heading into retirement, you should also ensure that the role of your home – often one of your most significant personal wealth assets – is taken into account as part of a comprehensive retirement income plan. ”

About RBC Seniors Finance and Caregiving
Seniors Finance and Caregiving is a new online resource centre which includes comprehensive information for Canadians seeking support to help them care for aging relatives and friends or plan for their own future care needs. Caregiving resources include advice from caregiving experts as well as active caregivers and financial advice from RBC advisors related to caregiving needs. Home-related resources include the safety tips video “There’s no place like home” and the article “When staying at home is no longer an option – make sure you plan the right move”. All resources are freely available at

About the RBC 2013 Retirement Myths & Realities Poll
This annual poll examines Canadians’ expectations and experiences in retirement. It was conducted via online interviews by Ipsos Reid from February 27 to March 12, 2013, using a national sample of 2,159 adults aged 50 and over with household assets of at least $100,000 from Ipsos’ Canadian online panel. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of ±2 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.


For further information:

Media contacts:
Kathy Bevan, RBC, 416 974-8820

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