Canada’s Recent Immigrants Are Unhappy With Housing After Real Estate Prices Soar

Canada has long been thought to be a welcoming hub for immigrants but not when it comes to housing or wages. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) released its Housing Experiences survey this morning. The study looks at how Canadians of various demographics felt about housing in 2018. Most are happy but it appears to be older households that bought a while ago. Minorities and recent immigrants appear to be a lot less satisfied. Data for the latter show 2 out of 5 recent immigrants are outright dissatisfied with housing.

Two Out of Five Recent Immigrants To Canada Are Unsatisfied With Their Housing

The majority of Canadians were satisfied with their housing arrangement. The agency found 8 out of 10 (82%) Canadians were satisfied with their living quarters in 2018. It appears this data tends to skew to older, more established households. That would have been before frothy valuations deviated from historic affordability.

Recent immigrants and visible minorities were much less satisfied with their housing. Just 3 out of 5 (63%) of recent immigrants said they were satisfied in 2018. That leaves 2 in 5 people arriving in Canada finding their situation less than ideal — and that was back in 2018. Home prices rising 42% since then, most likely made the situation a lot worse.

Canadian Housing Satisfaction By Demographic

The percent of Canadians satisfied with their housing by demographic compared to the national average.

Source: Statistics Canada; Better Dwelling.

Canada’s Visible Minorities Are Much More Dissatisfied, Likely Due To The Wage Gap

Visible minorities also tend to be less satisfied with their housing arrangement. They found lower satisfaction with Black (69%), Chinese (74%), and South Asian (75%) households. The national statistics agency doesn’t dive into why but the wage gap is likely a contributor.

Visible minorities born in Canada earn considerably less than their Caucasian peers. The Conference Board of Canada found wages to be up to 30% lower for these Canadians. Earning a lot less would provide a significant barrier to ownership or renting. Even when housing was “cheap” 10 years ago, it was still a hurdle for some.

Canada’s Racial Wage Gap

The percent difference in wages earned by Canadian-born visible minorities versus their Caucasian peers in 2010.

Source: Conference Board of Canada; Better Dwelling.

Most Canadians Own The Home They Live In… Unless They Are Black, Recent Immigrants or LGBTQ2+

Speaking of homeownership, they found the majority of Canadians live in owner-occupied housing. The survey shows 73% of households in 2018 lived in housing where the owner is a member of the household. Chinese-Canadians are most likely to own their home, with an 85% ownership rate. Not surprising if you know 90% of households in China live in owner-occupied housing. Senior (78%), South Asian (74%), and Veteran (73%) households were consistent with the average.

Not all Canadian demographics can claim such high rates of ownership. In fact, some can’t even claim the majority of the demographic as homeowners. Minority rates were found in Black (48%), recent immigrants (44%), and LGBTQ2+ (47%) households. A wage gap and soaring prices help to explain this trend. Though it’s not clear to what extent without a deeper study.

Generally speaking, older households have a higher homeownership rate in Canada. It makes sense when combined with 2 out of 5 recent immigrants dissatisfied with housing. Not only did the older demographic buy when it was more affordable, or secure rent when it was cheaper. They also saw a massive boost to their net-worth when housing became frothy five years ago. Their gain also happens to be a hurdle for new buyers.

The study didn’t focus on age but it would have been interesting to see a breakdown. One would assume younger households without generational wealth are similarly impacted.



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  • Gerald Haw 2 years ago

    Canada WAS a great place to immigrate to. The recent bump was due to the US capping visas under Trump and US companies looking for a place with a similar lifestyle and timezone though. If Biden brings about his immigration reform, it’s going to be a tough sell.

    • Frank Daugherty 2 years ago

      We’re at the in-between point. Emerging markets are going to be bigger and more advanced within ten years (and provide more opportunity) and advanced economies are going to hit the peak where their debt loads crush any chance at opportunity and they’ll have to operate like a ponzi.

      In the meantime, you have ambitious immigrants hoping there’s more opportunity here since their home country is at the in-between stage. Moving to Asia would be like moving to Canada in the 80s for the opportunity. Moving to Africa is like Canada in the 70s. Both are less comfortable than Canada right now but in a few years, you’ll have the opportunity of a generation if you’re willing to put up with a slightly less comfortable environment for a few years.

      • Dee 2 years ago

        Most Asian countries don’t allow any sort of immigration and certainly nothing like the West. Many of those countries also don’t allow foreign ownership of anything including homes or if they do it’s very restricted.

  • Christopher Barclay 2 years ago

    That wage gap data is from 2010. Things have gotten a lot better today.

    • Vishal 2 years ago

      I think you missed the point. If you were earning 20% less due to the wage gap when prices were affordable, buying a house was 20% less affordable.

      Now IF you’re someone who saw the wage gap close, and it’s not just Canada averaging down on the wage gap, you still didn’t get to buy when everyone thought it was easy. It’s like you’re a new immigrant to Canada (or as BD points out, a young person without generational wealth).

      Gap might be closing but even if you were here for 20 years you’re still receiving the same level of opportunity as someone that just arrived. Which is a very close fit to how you feel as a visible minority in most of Canada.

  • Nassim 2 years ago

    LOL. I mean if you move to a country when its locals are saying it’s impossible to find stable housing you’re not going to have a fun time unless you’re moving for a massive premium on local incomes (i.e. corporate executive). Even if you’re a doctor you can’t afford housing in one of the immigration hubs

    • MD 2 years ago

      Any type of physician, you can afford an average detached house in TORONTO or Vancouver.

      • Bruno 2 years ago

        You can afford the payments but a double physician couple in Vancouver making $200k each would take 10 years to save a downpayment on a tear down.

        • Alan 2 years ago

          You make 200K each you take home 240ish, you can live on 100K (easily) and save a 300K down payment in under 3 years. If the 1% can’t buy a house no one can.

        • MD 2 years ago

          An average income for MD is close to half of a million annual in Ontario; also 90% of doctors are incorporated ( around 20% goes into taxes);
          couple makes 1 million and up in Ontario.
          Doctors can afford detached house in Toronto.

          • Canadaeh 2 years ago

            Hmmm I dont know where you get your numbers…MD and Surgeons are the top of the medical profession, MD are around 350k CAD, surgeons are 481k CAD….the average doctor in canada makes 200k

          • Proctologist 2 years ago

            You just making up numbers. Any search on sites from glassdoor to globalnews will show much lower average numbers. In the 260K range for family physicians to <500K for surgeons. And this is gross!

        • MD 2 years ago

          Most of doctors work “fee for service”, if you check schedule of benefits BC or Ontario, on average physician makes close to 500k annual in primary care or about 12-14 k weekly.

          • Actual Doctor 2 years ago

            Fee for service bililng doesn’t include overhead which includes the office space, staff, and many materials we can’t bill for.

            This has always been an argument people make when trying to portray doctors as greedy but they’re looking at gross billing. We’re well-compensated but I have a hard time believing you’re a doctor if you don’t understand fee for service is a gross billing number and not what we take home.

            Family doctors often work for clinics in Toronto and receive a flat fee for their time in exchange for not having any financial exposure.

        • Dee 2 years ago

          Agreed Bruno.

  • JT 2 years ago

    Did they happen to publish owner occupancy by CMA? In the 2016 census only about 53% of City of Toronto residents were living in owner occupied homes and I’m curious if that has shifted up or down.

  • Dar Robbins 2 years ago

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
    Canadian housing prices are well known globally. They chose to come here knowing this.

    What about our own children who can’t afford a house. They did not have a choice and the author does not even mention their predicament.

    • Christopher Barclay 2 years ago

      Because of a thing called scope. Every article isn’t about advancing the narrative you want to hear.

      They literally just dropped the data and made no statement whether it was good. No one but you read this and thought, but why isn’t this about me?

  • hannah 2 years ago

    Owner-occupied housing doesn’t mean most Canadians own their own homes. it means the houses they live in are not rented. You should correct this misstatement.

    • James Wilson 2 years ago

      I’m sure they’ll correct that misstatement as soon as Statistics Canada corrects the term, that only you apparently know the definition of.

      In your mind, the buildings that are rented aren’t owned? LOL. Buildings are owned by someone. The owner either occupies them or someone rents them to someone.

      Owner-occupied is a term used to describe a household that benefits from owning its own dwelling. They are giving up rent they could earn by renting the property to someone and therefore they are paying themselves the rent as a benefit.

      • D 2 years ago

        About 35% of households live an A household in which their mortgage is paid off. Statscan is a horrible site for many reasons.

      • Bret 2 years ago

        No need to be an ass, James Wilson.

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