When It Comes To Starting A Family, Is Home Ownership Out Of The Question?

A recent survey shows that over half of Canadians polled feel they cannot afford both family life and home ownership

A beautiful home and garden, surrounded by a white picket fence. A mother in her apron, surrounded by her children, stands waiting on the porch. The family dog runs out to greet her husband as he returns home from work. The smell of supper is wafting through an open window.

On second glance, that’s not mom, that’s the babysitter coming to tag out of childcare duties, with the husband. But here comes mom now, pulling up the driveway, looking exhausted after a 10-hour day at the office. The children have long been asleep in bed. And that fence is looking like it needs a lick of paint. Dad better give the landlord a call, just as soon as he’s microwaved their dinner. Tomorrow morning an email will land in their inbox from the agency the nanny came from, informing the Jones’ that their childcare rates will be going up.

In 2015, the landscape for the average family, with 2.4 children, has changed considerably since the middle of the twentieth century. But while juggling the responsibilities and duties of the modern working parent is one thing, making a decision between owning property and owning… well, children, is quite another.

Has it really come to this? According to a survey conducted by RateSupermarket.ca, it has. The study, which polled 1,700 Canadians on their family affordability sentiments, found that over half of them felt they could not afford both family life and home ownership.

"While it's no surprise that kids are hard on the wallet—at a quarter of a million dollars to raise a baby to college-age—it is disheartening Canadians increasingly feel they must choose between home ownership and their desire to be parents," says Penelope Graham, Editor at RateSupermarket.ca. "Rising home prices, especially in Canada's urban centres, are making it tougher for millennials to follow their family dreams."

Millennials were the most affected in the survey—72.11 percent of them admitted that their ability to start or expand their family has been directly impacted by real estate prices in their area. Many people interviewed for the survey said that pre-existing debt was a big factor in preventing them from growing their family.

Just over 60 percent said they would rely on credit to pay for things, and the majority said that the lack of affordable childcare was their top financial challenge.

Yesterday CBC suggested that it might be time for Canadians to let go of the "hang up" that everyone must own a home. If the housing crisis comes crashing down, as a new study suggested, young homeowners could be in for a tough time. The solution? Have enough "wiggle room" in budgets to comfortably make mortgage repayments should rates rise. Or, don’t buy a house at all.

"Those Europeans rent their whole lives", we’re always reminded in times like this. So why can’t we? Why do we have to own our own property? Is there some sort of deep-dwelling urge in humans to plant our stake in the ground, permanently, even if it's to the detriment of the comfort and happiness in the rest of our lives?

No matter how unrealistic it is to buy, how crushingly expensive, especially in big cities, or how much we have to compensate in the rest of our lives just to have one, it feels like people will always want a home to call their own.

Surely something has got to give. Possibly the bubble will burst, and with it the price of homes will drop. Perhaps it will be a change in childcare legislation, cripplingly expensive in its present form, and forcing many to stay at home to cut costs. Or could it be that we stop thinking that becoming a homebuyer is the answer to all our problems, and instead just be content to rent?

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