Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Two semi detached homes at 248 and 250 Seaton St. Toronto, Ont., which have both been sold, on April 15, 2021.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

A word to all the young adults who can no longer afford a house in this country: It’s not your fault.

Your affordability issues are not because you ordered avocado toast for brunch, drank some lattes, took some trips, didn’t make super-smart investments or decide to tie yourself down to home ownership at the very first feasible moment in your life.

The country’s housing affordability problems are about weird times in real estate brought on by the pandemic. It’s nothing you did or failed to do. Please stop beating yourself up for not owning a house, and don’t let anyone else shame you for that.

Story continues below advertisement

A fault line is growing between those who own a house and those who are shut out by price gains that have been in the range of 20 per cent to 30 per cent this year compared with the same period of 2020. Millennials and members of Gen Z are seeing their friends and family groups dividing into those who got into the housing market early and those who put off buying for whatever reason and now can’t see getting in.

Money-wise, we often blame ourselves when things don’t turn out well. It’s because financial advice is built on a philosophy of personal responsibility that too often fails to take personal circumstances into consideration.

The housing situation is an example of how making the right moves depends on many factors out of your control. Your parents, for instance: Another divide opening up in housing has young buyers reliant on their own finances on one side, and the children of well-off parents on the other. Parental money becomes the big difference-maker when soaring prices keep raising minimum down payments.

Parental help with college or university tuition also has an influence on who can afford a house, and when. Repaying a student debt of tens of thousands of dollars delays saving for a down payment, and cuts into the amount of mortgage debt a young adult can carry.

The job market has also worked against the home ownership aspirations of young adults. In the pandemic, the hardest hit cohorts in a financial sense are women and young adults. Long before the pandemic, many young adults found only contract and temporary work that didn’t offer the security of a full-time position with benefits.

Even full-time jobs are no guarantee of being able to buy a house in expensive markets such as Vancouver and Toronto, where the average house price is above $1-million. According to Ratehub.ca, you’d need an annual income of at least $175,230 to afford a $1-million house bought with the minimum 20-per-cent down payment (lesser down payments are okay for houses below that price threshold).

Statistics Canada says the median total income for people aged 25 to 34 years in 2019 was $41,700. Double that for a couple’s income and you end up at $83,400, less than half of what’s needed in that $1-million-home example.

Story continues below advertisement

Young adults are also being blamed if they’re not willing to move to a smaller city or town, where houses are still comparatively affordable. But there are lots of reasons why this might not be practical – you can’t work remotely, you have family obligations or you feel more comfortable in a socially diverse urban environment.

Feeling that your mistake was not pushing yourself to buy a house sooner, before prices jumped? Because of how much prices have risen, there is definitely a trend among younger twentysomethings to get into the housing market as soon as possible. But there’s a lot to be said for gathering some life experience before settling down to own a home. After you buy, your life will very much revolve around your home.

Home ownership used to be something you looked at when the time was right in your life – for example, you’re starting a family. Blame the pandemic for the intense urgency people feel now about buying. Low interest rates cut the cost of mortgages, and demand blew up because people wanted bigger homes with yards. Join the 99.99 per cent if you didn’t see this coming.

Coming up: Financial planners offer some practical ideas for people worried they will never be able to afford a house.

The 2021 Demographia International Housing Affordability report shows a number of metropolitan cities are worsening, with Canada now holding two of the top five rankings. We compare what your money buys in Canada, and how far it goes overseas.

Stay informed about your money. We have a newsletter from personal finance columnist Rob Carrick. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies