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Urban migration, household type, and housing supply

Here is an interesting discussion paper on the Toronto region’s economy, demographic outlook, and its land use. It was recently published by IBI Group and Hemson Consulting to support the 10-year review of our regional transportation plan.

I wanted to share a couple of charts from the report that I thought were interesting. If you’re not in the Toronto region, I would be very curious to hear how your city might compare in terms of the way it is trending.

The first chart is net migration by age group. Like Vancouver – similar chart posted here – people have been moving into the city/Toronto when they’re young and then moving out to the suburbs once they start having families. 

Will that continue? The oldest Millennials are now hitting their mid-30′s and I am very interested to see if there will be any reversal in this.


Given the above trend, people in this region are not surprisingly also swapping apartments for ground-related housing as they get older. The crossover point seems to be (or at least has been) when people hit their mid-30′s. Again, I am curious how this may evolve as the city matures.


Because if you look at housing completions from 2001 to 2016 (chart below), the only municipality that was able to meaningfully increase its housing supply was Toronto. 

Every other municipality – except for Hamilton, which posted modest gains – experienced significant declines in the number of new homes delivered to the market over the last census periods. 

Of course, the only reason Toronto was able to increase its housing supply was by building up – in other words by building condos and apartments. (Shown in the purple below. For some reason the legend is incomplete in the report.) 


If you look at the share of housing completions, over 80% of new homes in Toronto are now in apartment form. 


Intensification is a deliberate policy choice. And we can certainly debate whether it’s a good or bad thing (I believe it’s a good thing). 

But putting that aside, the above charts are a great answer to the perennial question: “How is it that Toronto is building so many condos?” This is why.

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