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Global Perspective: How Large Are Canadian Homes?

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Global Perspective: How Large Are Canadian Homes?
8 min. read

In 1975, the average size of a house in Canada was 1,050 square feet. Fast forward to 2010 and new homes have doubled in size, according to The Globe and Mail. Where is this going? Are Canadians alone in this craze for more living space? We surveyed 29,000 people from Canada and from across the world to find the answer.

We collected answers from Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Mexico, Brazil, France, Spain, Germany and Australia – all countries with a wide range of living conditions from small condos to sprawling single-family homes, all with small towns and densely populated mega-cities. Comparing answers from these countries also gave us a perspective on the possible differences between old-world Europe and a „new world” mentality, in terms of home sizes and expectations.

Key findings:
– Canada ranks third in terms of average home size, after Australia and the U.S., with residents there enjoying between 13% and 26.6% more space than respondents in European countries

Canadians are second only to Americans when it comes to living space/person/household, with 618 sq. ft. of elbow room on average. That’s 36% more space than U.K. respondents have, and 44% more than Brazilians!
– The largest gaps between actual living area and preferred ‘good home size’ appear in the most heated real estate markets in Canada: Vancouver and Toronto.

Everyone wants a bigger home, but Canadians’ current home sizes are very close to ideal

The overall results of our survey show that respondents across all 9 countries generally think larger homes than their current ones are ideal, but the percentages of Canadians and Americans who expressed this preference are 42% and 39% respectively – smaller than with most other respondents.

Does that mean Canadians are more content than everyone else when it comes to living space conditions? Not necessarily, considering that Canadians and Americans already enjoy much larger homes than Europeans or Brazilians. What we could be seeing is a cool off in the race to build larger homes. 1,800 square feet might be good enough or very close to good enough for most Canadians.

Here’s how Canada stacks up to the other 8 countries we surveyed:

CA-US U.S. home size preferences are very close to those expressed by Canadians. Here, 27% of respondents live in homes between 1,001 and 1,500 sq. ft., and the same percentage of them think a home in the 1,501-2,000 sq. ft. tier is ideal. In other words, the largest percentage of Americans live in homes about the same size as Canadians, but there’s a clearer tendency towards up-sizing.
CA-UK Looking at the U.K., 27% of respondents live in homes between 1,000 and 1,500 sq. ft. So far, U.K. and Canada seem to go hand in hand, as is often the case. But when asked about their ideal home size, 38% of Brits who answered our survey said they’d prefer living in mansions exceeding 2,500 sq. ft. in size. That means that most British respondents feel a good-sized home is roughly twice as large as the one they currently inhabit.
CA-AUSTRALIA Australia shows the largest, most uncompromising gap out of the surveyed countries: 37% of respondents said they live in homes of under 1,000 sq. ft., and 40% said they want homes exceeding 2,500 sq. ft. in size. Aussies have always wanted bigger homes, but there are signs that local builders are cutting down on the average size of newly built homes, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
CA-MEXICO Data from Mexico – a favorite spot for vacation homes among Canadian snowbirds – shows a similar gap between reality and expectation. 38% of respondents live in homes under 1,000 sq. ft., while 32% of them state they wish to live in homes exceeding 2,501 sq. ft. in size. From this point of view, Mexico has more in common with the U.K. than Canada does.
CA-BRAZIL In Brazil, 49% of respondents said they live in homes of under 1,000 sq. ft., while 35% said a good-sized home should be just a little larger – 1,001 – 1,500 sq. ft. Brazilian respondents seem to mirror Canadians in many ways, except for the average sizes of their actual homes, which are about 500 sq. ft. smaller.

Germany shows a gap between reality and preferred home size of only one tier, from under 1,000 sq. ft. (42% of answers) to between 1,000 and 1,500 sq. ft. (39% of answers).

Spain follows suit, with 46% of respondents living in homes under 1,000 sq. ft., and 45% of respondents naming the 1,000-1,501 tier as ideal.

France has virtually identical numbers to Spain, except that the average home size among respondents is about 200 sq. ft. larger, which makes it seem like the French are more willing to downsize.

A comparison of average living areas per person

Looking at the average living area per person for our respondents, the general pattern seems to be that the less elbow room respondents have, the larger their ideal “good-sized” home tends to become.

Canadian respondents enjoy the second largest average living area per person out of the surveyed countries – 618 sq. ft. Respondents from the U.S. have more space – 656 sq. ft./person/household, but according to their answers, they wouldn’t mind even more elbow room.

Comparatively, it’s no surprise that Mexico, with an average of only 354 sq. ft./person/household, shows a really strong desire for larger homes. The same holds true for the U.K., with only 454 sq. ft./person/household.

Home Size chart 2 CA

Home sizes and desires across Canada

In British Columbia, the average home size among respondents is 2,077 square feet. In fact, 23% of respondents in BC live in homes of over 2,500 square feet in size, a percentage second only to New Brunswick.

On the other hand, respondents here have a very balanced distribution concerning preferred desired home size tiers, with only 8% choosing the under 1,000 square feet option, and almost perfect division in quarters as home sizes progress tier by tier, from 1,001-1,500 to over 2,500 square feet.

In Vancouver, 29% of respondents state they live in homes of under 1,000 sq. ft., while 32% consider the 2,500 sq. ft. mark the starting point for a good-sized house. Much like in the case of Vancouver, Kelowna stats show that 30% of respondents live in homes between 1,001 and 1,500 sq. ft., and 32% consider a 2,500+ sq. ft. home a good size.

38% of Alberta respondents live in homes between 1,001 and 1,500 square feet, and 35% of respondents think that’s precisely how large a good-sized home should be.  However, a considerable 27% of respondents here would prefer a home between 1,501 and 2,000 square feet. According to our recent Canadian home buyer profile study, this percentage is consistent with a tendency for buying larger homes in Alberta.

The chart below offers an at-a-glance perspective on the situation throughout the provinces.

Ontario displays a wide diversity of preferences when comparing city to city. As in the case of Vancouver, Toronto shows a great gap between respondents’ current and ideal home sizes: 33% live in homes under 1,000 sq. ft. in size, and 28% think the ideal home should exceed 2,500 sq. ft. in size.

Mississauga is the only city in Canada in which equal numbers of respondents chose two different size brackets as their ideal home sizes: 26% would prefer homes between 1,001 and 1,500 sq. ft., while another 26% would like to live in homes between 2,000 and 2,501 sq. ft. in size. In reality, 33% of Mississauga respondents said they live in homes between 1,501 and 2,000 sq. ft. in size – straight in the middle of the two main preferences.

In Hamilton 27% of respondents said they live in homes within the 1,501-2,000 sq. ft. bracket. The same percentage of respondents said their ideal home size is on the exact same tier.

30% of Ottawa respondents live in homes between 1,001 and 1,500 sq. ft, and 29% of  respondents feel that a home between 1,501 and 2,000 sq. ft. is ideal. Among Ontario metropolises, Ottawa is quite affordable in comparison, which may explain the healthy, moderate inclination towards buying bigger.

The chart below gives an overview of actual home sizes and preferences across 9 major Canadian cities:

In Quebec, 32% of respondents declared they live in homes between 1,001 and 1,500 square feet, and 31% stated that the same bracket is ideal in size. However, a total of 60% of Quebec respondents feel that a larger home would be ideal.

Saskatchewan prices are already among the most affordable in Canada, which is probably motivating for local residents’ home size desires. However, Saskatoon answers show great balance – 46% of them responded that they live in homes between 1,001 and 1,501 sq. ft. in size, and 41% also think that that’s the ideal home size bracket.

The same trend seems to fit Manitoba pretty well. In Winnipeg, 39% of respondents live in homes under 1,000 sq. ft. in size, and another 39% live in homes within the 1,001-1,500 bracket. With such a consolidated distribution, it isn’t surprising that 37% of Winnipeg residents feel a home between 1,001 and 1,500 sq. ft. would be an ideal size for them.

Although Nova Scotia as a whole seems to be one of the most balanced provinces, 28% of Halifax respondents state they live in homes between 1,001 and 1,500 sq. ft., while 30% of respondents answered that a good-sized home should have over 2,500 sq. ft. of space. That’s one of the highest gaps in the country.

Methodology:

  • Data was collected using Google Surveys. 29,000 people responded to our survey. Answers were tallied and analyzed in house.

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