Increasingly, young people are renouncing friends and family – and then hunting for urban apartments that will suit them. In Toronto and Vancouver, if it can be found.
Arriving at a sidewalk barbecue in Ontario, just north of Toronto, I decide to take advantage of one of the few remaining warm days. My face is flushed and I’m chubby as all get-out. The smell of grilled sandwiches wafts by. It makes me wonder how hard it is to outwork my three roommates. When my best friend wakes up the next morning, she’ll be chewing the cud and mea culpa sandwich
I open my Facebook feed. It is full of tired millennials. Don’t deny them. They have swallowed the lifestyle code and it’s crushing. Here are some of my friends: Devoni and her friends celebrated her birthday at a bar with a volleyball tournament; someone else set out a long shopping list for five friends, each claiming to be on a $6,000 budget; Derek, who breaks his lease every three months and starts a new one the minute he’s done, won’t even order takeout because he doesn’t want it to come out of his rent.
Living in the basement of your parents’ home can suck all the fun out of college for some. K
Trav Collins, a project coordinator for the National Housing Strategy, calls the way millennials are living today a “marathon”.
“The type of lifestyle one has in Toronto is a powerful indicator of whether they’re going to find affordable housing,” he said. “Affordability indicators show we are having trouble attracting new people to live in a city, especially when it comes to urban living.”
For those of us who grew up in Toronto, this is a familiar story, even if the moniker “adopt a friend” hasn’t yet been coined. Growing up in the city, I lived with a mother whose husband worked in the city and a father whose neighbourhood meant there was no reason to drive.
A recent report prepared for the City of Toronto shows that the number of young people working in the city is decreasing. The city, which is highly dependent on population growth for economic stability, has had an increasing number of empty apartments, and rents are rising. An episode of the Masterpiece Theatre docu-series “CityVille” about the housing situation in Toronto demonstrated the complexity of the problem: an experiment found parents paying to store unused air conditioners in their basement because “the risk of moving to a different neighbourhood becomes too high when they have no air conditioning to take with them”.
The problem for millennials who grew up in the city is that the typical connection they had to Toronto is slipping. Toronto is becoming more expensive and less appealing to millennials, and they are leaving the city in search of more affordable housing.
A recent University of Toronto study found that, out of 100 Toronto residents born in the late 1970s, 22.4 no longer live in the city. Of the remaining 100 respondents, 56.3 (61%) said the high cost of housing in Toronto causes them to relocate out of the city.
A two-bedroom apartment in the Main Street district of Toronto, which can cost as much as $1,550 (£880) a month. Photograph: Bcoshir
Francesca Colliatto, 30, a Canadian architect living in a townhouse in the upscale Markham neighbourhood, moved to the city nine years ago and didn’t really experience any of the lifestyle problems that have plagued millennials in recent years. She does, however, experience the struggle to find an apartment.
She tries to find apartments in the same neighbourhoods where she worked in Toronto, all of which come with other demands. On top of having a job and a mortgage, she also has the need to start saving for her graduate studies while trying to find a place to live.
“Landlords and brokerage firms say they are only renting to certain groups of people and offer incentives,” Colliatto said. “But when I did that, I quickly realized it was not all about me, but it seems that the client who has a firm foundation is more likely to have more success.”
I tried to find an apartment in the Markham