“Too Much House”

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We’ve all heard the phrase “too much house,” which we generally understand to refer to people who own or occupy much larger houses than they need. Is this a real phenomenon which is supported statistically, or is it just an urban legend sort of thing? Recently, while preparing a report for a client, I noticed something interesting in a set of data tables from the 2016 Census which compare the type of dwelling with the number of persons per household. The table below is for the Niagara Region.

Do you notice the interesting data point? There are approximately 23,205 one-person households across Niagara living in single-detached houses (in 2016). Although some of those houses will be small “wartime housing” houses, some will be modern family-sized houses. It’s fair to assume, I think, that many of these one-person households have “too much house” and are candidates for downsizing into townhouses or apartments.

I’ve looked at this set of data tables for other regions and counties in southern Ontario and the same phenomenon shows up in each. That means there are tens of thousands of people living alone in single-detached houses across southern Ontario. That points to a pretty deep depth-of-market for other housing alternatives. Plus, if many of those one-person households with “too much house” are aging baby-boomers, then that implies a future shift in who occupies what type(s) of housing.