According to Statistics Canada, one-third of all households in Greater Victoria (33.7 per cent) are one-person households, ahead of the national rate of 29.3 per cent. (Black Press Media file photo)

According to Statistics Canada, one-third of all households in Greater Victoria (33.7 per cent) are one-person households, ahead of the national rate of 29.3 per cent. (Black Press Media file photo)

Flying solo the norm for a third of households in Greater Victoria

Households composed of roomates on the rise across Canada with Greater Victoria ahead of curve

New figures from Statistics Canada point to Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) as an outlier in terms of living arrangements.

One-third of all households in Greater Victoria (33.7 per cent) are made up of a single person, ahead of the national rate of 29.3 per cent. This figure is even higher when looking at just the City of Victoria, where 49 per cent of all households are solo households. Other Greater Victoria communities with a high number of singleone-person households include Sidney (38.7 per cent) and Esquimalt (38.8 per cent). By contrast, communities on the West Shore such Colwood (21.8 per cent) and Metchosin (19.9 per cent) feature relatively low numbers of solo households, although numbers in communities such Langford (26.4 per cent) and View Royal (28.4 per cent) are trending up as well.

Victoria CMA with its 176,675 total households is also a hotspot for households of roommates — two or more people living together who are not part of a census family. This category represents the fastest-growing household type in Canada, rising by 14 per cent between 2016 and 2021 across the country.

While the growth was less pronounced in Greater Victoria, the region already has more roommate households than the rest of the country with six per cent of all households falling into that category in 2021, up from 5.8 per cent in 2016. The national rate is 4.4 per cent.

Statistics Canada said in an accompanying analysis that the move toward roommates reflects socioeconomic conditions.

“Population growth and aging, urbanization, rising educational attainment, sustained immigration, rising ethnocultural diversity, and housing affordability have all contributed to shifts in the ways people live,” it reads.

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If housing affordability is among the factors affecting the rise of roommate households, so is the presence of one or more post-secondary institutions. Victoria, home to the University of Victoria, Royal Roads University and Camosun College, finds itself in good company with other smaller CMAs with post-secondary institutions such as Halifax, Kingston and Waterloo. Roommate households are also popular in communities with a strong orientation toward tourism such as Whistler and Banff.

Not surprisingly, roommate households tend to be young. “The fastest-growing living arrangement for people aged 20 to 34 was living with other people but outside a census family, increasing in number by 20 per cent from 2016 to 2021,” it reads. That includes living with roommates or living with unrelated or extended family members.

“This was the living situation of 15 per cent of young adults in 2021, up from 11 per cent in 2001,” it reads. “Young adults live with roommates for financial support, because of a lack of affordable alternative housing options, by choice, for companionship and emotional support, or for other reasons.”

Broadly speaking, these numbers fill out the picture painted by earlier figures. They underscore Greater Victoria’s status as an aging, increasingly childless region within Canada, where a shrinking cohort of younger people are finding it increasingly difficult to establish themselves in the face of high housing prices, thereby resorting to alternative living arrangements.

The figures also increasingly confirm the West Shore as the preferred location of families within Greater Victoria. The region’s urban core and the Saanich Peninsula, meanwhile, share a growing number of commonalities, while departing radically from each other in other ways. Both feature a relatively high share of solo households and a low share of households with children (relative to national levels). But the Saanich Peninsula skews older and richer than the core.

Local Indigenous communities, meanwhile, skew far younger than the rest of the region, but also record the lowest income levels in the region.

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