Number of Canadians living alone hits new high

But Statistics Canada data shows that roomies are the fastest-growing household type

Number of Canadians living alone hits new high
Steve Randall

The makeup of Canadian households is evolving amid generational preferences and necessities.

While there are some households made up of two parents with ‘2.4’ children, the reality across Canada is that many people are not living in what may once have been considered a traditional arrangement.

Statistics Canada has released data from Census 2021 which shows that there has been a sharp increase in the number of one-person Canadian households.

Such information helps inform and influence socioeconomic conditions and provides wealth professionals with a snapshot of the circumstances of many clients and potential clients.

There were 4.4 million people living alone in 2021, a record high reflecting a long-term trend (in 1981 there were 1.7 million solo-dwellers).

This means that around 3 in 10 Canadian households consist of just one person, although this the second lowest in the G7, just ahead of the US.

Interestingly, it is Canadians aged 35-44 where solo living is on the rise with a doubling of the percentage over the past 40 years (although still only 10%).

The analysis cites several reasons for the increase in solo living, such as choosing to delay family formation, “growing relationship instability, the rise of non-cohabiting relationships, urbanization, changing lifestyle preferences and the growth of high-rise apartments.”

Retired couples

Life expectancy has increased and there is now less of a gap between men and women.

This has led to couples being able to live together for longer and, because statistically men die first, this has led to a decrease in the number of women aged 65+ who are living alone.

For parents of adult children, the share of those whose kids are aged 20-34 remained at 35% in 2021 (compared to 2016).

There has also been a rise in the number of households comprising multiple generations of a family, two or more census families, or one census family living with additional persons not in a census family.

Almost 1 million households were like this in 2021, up 45% in the last 20 years and accounting for 7% of all Canadian households.

More than 1 million children were living in the same households are one or more grandparent, mostly with at least one parent too.


Living with roommates has also seen a rise.

This is the fastest-growing type of household with a 54% increase from 2001 to 2021, although still representing only 4% of all Canadian households.