Current Bulletin

Housing Occupancy Trends, 1996-2011

Toronto’s housing landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. It is denser and taller. High-rise condominium towers dominate the City’s Downtown, the Centres and along the Waterfront. Mid-rise apartments are being built along the Avenues while detached homes and infill housing of row and townhouses have been built in Neighbourhoods. Across the City, this growth has provided a range of housing, which, in general, accommodates the needs of households of all ages and stages in their lives.

In the years between 1996 and 2011, the population of Toronto grew by 229,580 people, a 9.6% increase, while the number of households increased by 16%, adding 144,195 new households. Over the next 20 years, Toronto’s population is forecasted to reach over three million people. This population growth combined with the evolution of household composition, introduces several housing challenges, such as increased pressure on existing stock and demand for more units, which will require further densification and creative housing solutions.

To gain a better understanding of what types of housing will be needed in the future, this bulletin observes past housing demand patterns using the 1996, 2001 and 2006 Census and the 2011 National Household Survey. It examines the characteristics of households occupying the existing housing stock to determine potential challenges facing future housing demand and supply. What are the ages of the households? How does family composition affect housing? Has there been a shift in the demand for certain types of housing by households of a certain age and type? What does the rental and ownership landscape look like?

Bar graph showing occupancy rates by household type by dwelling type, 1996-2011


  • The number of households in Toronto grew 16.0% to 1,047,780 households.
  • The number of high-rise apartments increased by 30% to 430,080, and accounted for 68% of all newly occupied units with a total of 98,150 households.
  • Households 45-64 years of age grew the most, adding 115,750 households for a total of 403,970 households in 2011.
  • Household growth between the ages of 30-44 years declined by 6.5%. There was a loss of 20,870 households.
  • In the 30-44 age cohort there was a loss of 31,200 households in ground-related housing.
  • Family households increased by 66,000 households, although its share of total households decreased.
  • The share of non-families, specifically one person households, grew from 34.6% to 37.3% with an increase of 78,425 households; this accounted for 54% of the net household growth.
  • There were 10,145 more families with children living in high-rise apartments representing a 15% increase.
  • 6 of every 10 units built were in high-rise buildings, yet only 3.8% of these apartments had 3 or more bedrooms.
  • The average size of a 3-bedroom apartment unit decreased by 20% between 1996-2014. The average household size of these units remained at approximately 3.0 persons per household (PPH).
  • The average number of person per household (PPH) decreased from 2.60 to 2.46.
  • Household ownership increased with ownership in high-rises contributing the most, an increase of 82,375 units. The proportion of owned units grew by 11% in high-rises, but decreased by 13% in houses and low-rise apartments.

Past Bulletin

Trends in Housing Occupancy – August 2012

This bulletin provides an analysis of changes in household composition and housing occupancy between 1996 and 2006.


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