2021 housing census: The move to smaller spaces

The number of townhomes occupied by families with kids in the Fraser Valley tellingly increased in the last decade, 2021 census data reveals.

By Joti Grewal | November 3, 2022 |5:00 am

Fraser Valley residents are living in smaller spaces. In the past decade, households have shifted from living in single-detached homes to townhomes and apartments, the latest release of 2021 census data illustrates.

In 2011, single-detached houses accounted for nearly half of all homes in Abbotsford and Mission. But rising home prices in the last decade forced families to turn to smaller spaces, which now take up more of the share.

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The number of households living in townhomes in those two cities increased by 28% in the last 10 years. But they still only make up a small portion of housing. Households in apartments, however, now make up one-quarter of all housing in the two cities. The number of households living in apartments increased by 25% in the last decade.

(Detailed housing numbers aren’t available for Langley because Statistics Canada includes that data in a Metro Vancouver lump sum total.)

In Chilliwack, single-detached homes made up less of the housing pie in 2021. The number of houses increased by 12% from the past decade, while the number of townhomes increased by 37% during that time. Apartments also increased by 22% and now account for 18% of all housing types in that city.

The data also illustrates a shift in the homes occupied by families.

Most kids in Abbotsford and Mission still lived in houses in 2021, while 9% of families lived in townhomes. But any single home was less likely to be occupied by kids. The number of single-detached homes with children actually decreased by 11% in the last decade. Neighbourhoods with houses had fewer kids living in them. A similar phenomenon has been seen elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, where it is frequently linked to children growing up and moving out of their parents’ houses and into townhomes and apartments. Meanwhile, parents of younger children are less likely to buy a house than new parents in previous decades.

Meanwhile, the number of townhomes occupied with kids and their guardians increased by 52% since 2011 and by nearly that much in apartments. The figures illustrate how young families are living in smaller spaces. There are 3,000 households with kids that live in townhomes and apartments.

Those trends are similar in Chilliwack. Families with children in townhomes increased by 45% in the last 10 years and by 32% for those living in apartments.

And that’s a trend that will likely continue.

The cost of housing is causing more families to learn to live and grow in smaller spaces. The cost is also leading to more multi-family developments. Large projects are already proposed for east Abbotsford, and Mission’s Silverdale—how those spaces are occupied will be revealed in a future census.


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Joti Grewal

Reporter at Fraser Valley Current

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