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Suburban household debt in Canada

Rachelle Younglai and Chen Wang’s recent piece in the Globe and Mail on suburban household debt (in Canada) has a number of interesting stats. Here are some of them:

  • Looking at debt service ratios across the country, the most financially stressed neighborhoods in Canada are almost exclusively in the suburbs. (Map of the Greater Toronto Area shown at the top of this post. Data from Environics Analytics.)
  • 34 of the top 100 most financially strained neighborhoods in Canada are located in Brampton, Ontario.
  • Brampton has grown at 2x the rate of Toronto over the last decade.
  • 43% of Brampton’s housing was built between 2001 and 2016.
  • 80% of homeowners in Brampton have a mortgage compared to 63% across the Toronto region as a whole.
  • 80% of Brampton’s property tax revenue comes from residential property (not surprising). In comparison, 47% of Toronto’s property tax revenue comes from commercial properties.
  • About 2/3 of Brampton’s work force leaves the city for their job. This makes sense given the above point.

The other thing the article talks about is the increase in the average household size in many suburban communities as a result of people renting out parts of their house.

One Brampton gentleman is quoted as saying that he rents his basement out to 3 or 4 students and his upstairs bedrooms to two truckers. This translates into typically 6 vehicles parked in his driveway.

Assuming this is the trend, I wonder how much of this additional income is being reported to CRA. Because if it’s not, then it could be throwing of these debt ratios and making the financial situation look more dire than it is.

In any event, I think this speaks to, among other things, the role that many suburban communities now serve for new immigrants coming to Canada. They are doing what they can to try and get ahead.

It’s also worth noting that if you look at the above map of the Greater Toronto Area, the lowest “debt spots” are in fact where homes tend to be the most expensive — the core.

Map: The Globe and Mail

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