Young Canadians Feel Less Connected To Their Neighbourhoods

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 12 April 2022 00:00

As part of a recent survey, Canadians were asked if they had a neighbour who they could leave a key with to check on their place if they were away. They were also asked if they could find someone in the neighbourhood to lend them $20 if they lost their wallet, and if they got sick, if there was someone in the neighbourhood that they could count on to check up on them.

While the majority of respondents said yes to all these questions, not all age groups feel the same way.

“Younger Canadians are less likely to report having support systems close to home, and the generational differences on this front are stark,” says the survey report by Angus Reid Institute.

Two-thirds of adults under 35 say they could get a neighbour to check their homes while away, and half said they could find someone to lend them $20. And “at a time in their lives when they may need more care and support, just two-in-five say they could count on a neighbour to check in on them if they were sick,” says Angus Reid.

Generally speaking, the older the respondent, the more likely they were to say that they could count on their neighbours in these scenarios. In the 65+ cohort, 86 per cent said they had neighbours who would check their homes if they were away, 78 per cent knew people who would lend them the $20 and 75 per cent had neighbours they could count on to check in if they were sick.

The study, by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute in partnership with Government House and the Vancouver Foundation, measures Canadians’ sense of belonging and level of engagement with others in their neighbourhood.

The report says that belonging is “a phenomenon that not everyone in Canada experiences. This is particularly true at the neighbourhood level. From coast to coast, from downtown apartments to sprawling suburbs, 63 per cent of Canadians say they feel that they belong in their closest physical community. This dips to half among those younger than 35 and above seven in 10 for those 55 years of age and older.”

One-third of those surveyed said they feel that personal social interactions in their neighbourhoods have been declining in recent years. Most of this group (78 per cent) blames the pandemic for the reduction in interaction, while 43 per cent say people are staying inside more and they never see their neighbours. More than a third of those who say interactions are declining say it’s because people are less friendly or more closed off than they were previously.

Almost 30 per cent of the group said political correctness or fear of offending someone is to blame for the lack of interaction, while 23 per cent say they are just less interested in talking to people these days.

Canadians aged 65+ are the least likely to blame people for being less friendly or being antisocial themselves, while 30 per cent of the 25- to 34-year-olds and 37 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds say they are less interested in chatting with others, says the report.

Rural Canadians say their neighbourhoods are friendlier and safer than do urban dwellers. Those who live in rural areas are also more likely to have neighbours who they can rely on to check their house if they are away, lend them money or look in on them if they are sick.

Affordable housing is the hottest topic in Canada these days, so it’s not surprising that survey respondents said housing and affordability is the No. 1 factor that makes a city, town or community a good place to live. Older Canadians who presumably already own their homes cited public safety and health and wellness as their top priorities.

Also mentioned by more than 10 per cent of respondents were employment opportunities, mobility (traffic, walkability), the environment/climate and education.

On a more positive note, a different survey by Mustel Group and Sotheby’s International Realty Canada found that more than a third of Generation Z adults expect to buy a home within the next five years. Sixty-seven per cent will use personal savings as their primary source of funds for their down payment, while 25 per cent expect to get a financial gift from their family for their down payment. Another 16 per cent will have a family inheritance they can use.

To save for their first home, 51 per cent of those interviewed said they are seeking a higher paying job. Forty-two per cent said they might earn extra income with a second job and 37 per cent said they were reducing or eliminating eating out. They also mentioned living with family (30 per cent), reducing or eliminating vacations (29 per cent) and delaying having a child (28 per cent).

“Even though Canada’s Generation Z homebuyers are confronting significant housing affordability concerns, it is clear that they not only desire home ownership, but regard it as being integral to their financial security and planning,” says Don Kottick, president and CEO at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “Many amongst this resourceful generation are planning their first real estate move and are taking major steps and making considerable sacrifices to save for their first down payment…We can only expect the social, economic and political clout of this group to have a growing influence on the Canadian housing market.”

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Jim Adair

Jim Adair has been writing about Canadian real estate, home building and renovation issues for more than 40 years. He is the former editor of Canada’s leading trade magazine for real estate professionals, as well as several home building, décor and renovation titles. You can contact him at [email protected]

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