Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

February 28, 2013 15:34 ET

Housing for Older Canadians: Volume 1- Understanding the Market

Part Two: What are the Leading Trends in Income, Health and Housing for Canada's Seniors?

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 28, 2013) - Canada's population is aging, and seniors are coming to represent a large, diverse, and rapidly growing segment of Canada's housing market. For housing developers, this ever-changing market means that it is becoming more difficult to determine what their customers will be looking for in a home 5, 10 or even 20 years down the road.

To help developers better understand the market and respond to the changing needs of older Canadians, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has developed an updated, multi-volume series titled Housing for Older Canadians: The Definitive Guide to the Over-55 Market.

The first volume in this series, Understanding the Market, offers an in-depth look at the housing market for older Canadians on both the national and provincial/territorial levels. Among other topics of interest to housing professionals, this volume includes a discussion of some of the leading housing trends related to Canadians aged 55 years and older.

With the elimination of mandatory retirement in most jurisdictions in Canada, many seniors are expected to continue working well after the age of 65 and during their retirement. In addition to earning supplementary income, continuing to work during retirement can be motivated by a desire to stay mentally active and to keep in touch with people in the workplace. Health and financial factors can also be important considerations.

Working after retirement is especially common among seniors who live in rural areas. A 2008 Statistics Canada study observed that older workers living in rural or small communities are almost twice as likely as those living in large urban centres to continue to do paid work after they retire.

For the housing industry, this means that many older Canadians will be attracted to housing that is not marketed specifically towards retirees, and which offers features such as a home office or proximity to employment opportunities.

On average, seniors today are wealthier, better educated, more informed and more independent than at almost any other time in history. This will almost certainly affect their housing and lifestyle choices. Baby boomers, for instance, tend to be active, and may choose homes that are easier to maintain so they can spend more time travelling.

While most older Canadians are in good to excellent health, many will experience health issues such as arthritis, reduced vision and obesity. According to Statistics Canada, in 2006, about 41 per cent of the population aged 65 and over had some form of disability. The severity of disabilities increased with age, with 4 per cent of people over the age of 75 reporting a severe disability, compared to about 2 per cent of those aged 65 to 74. Approximately 16 per cent of Canadians 65 and older (and about 25 per cent of those aged 75 or older) who had disabilities required help with everyday housework. With the projected increase in the seniors' population, the need for support services should therefore be an important consideration when developing housing for this group.

Housing providers should also take into account the latest findings in the field of quality-of-life research. According to this research, seniors are primarily attracted to communities that are planned, designed and built to be "age-friendly." The availability of public transit options, easy access to healthcare and other services, walkability, and safe public spaces are among the most important features of age-friendly communities.

Other volumes of the Guide cover such topics as market analysis, planning and designing seniors' housing, and services and amenities to consider when developing housing geared to seniors.

You can download the CMHC publication Housing for Older Canadians: The Definitive Guide to the Over-55 Market: Volume 1-Understanding the Market, or find information on any aspect of the Canadian housing industry, at For over 65 years, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canada's national housing agency, and a source of objective, reliable housing information.

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