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Under one roof

August 26, 2022, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the habits of Canadians in multiple areas of their lives. With the worlds of work and education forced to change, parents and children found themselves at home, under the same roof, looking for spaces to attend their professional and academic activities.

But what about before the crisis? Were homeowners and renters using these spaces efficiently? At a time when affordability and homeownership are on many people’s minds, a more detailed picture of bedroom use can help people better understand the space they have at home. The data in this article are from the 2016 Census. After September 21, check out the 2021 Census to learn more about emerging trends in this area.

Bedroom needs

According to the National Occupancy Standard, the appropriate size of a dwelling is based on a sufficient number of bedrooms for the household size and composition.

However, data from the 2016 Census of Population show that 34.5 million Canadians were living in 14.1 million private households, which had 39.5 million bedrooms.

Two-thirds (66.4%) of Canadian households had extra bedrooms. About half of which (32.7%) had one extra bedroom. Further, nearly 5% of Canadian households did not have enough bedrooms.

Homeowner? More bedrooms for you!

Are you a homeowner? Across the country, you’re more likely to have extra bedrooms (80.0%) than a renter (37.5%). Albertans were most likely to live in a household with extra bedrooms.

Households living in single detached houses are most likely to have extra bedrooms (82.1%), followed by semi-detached houses (72.7%) and row houses (66.0%).

Big cities mean less space

According to the 2016 Census, one-third of Canadian households lived in Vancouver, Toronto or Montréal. The cost of living was higher in these big cities and households were less likely to have extra bedrooms than elsewhere in the country: 55.1% in Vancouver, 55.7% in Toronto and 56.7% in Montréal.

More space among couples without children

Looking for a place to stay when you go away? Just know that your friends with a partner who do not have children living at home are statistically more likely to be able to put you up in one of their extra bedrooms (89.4%). Need more space? No worries! Almost 61% of them had two or more extra bedrooms (60.4%).

Among people aged 55 to 74, 94.5% had one or more extra bedrooms, and 68.6% had two or more extra bedrooms.

And why these extras?

How do we explain these extra bedrooms? There are many possible reasons. They may reflect a first-time home buyer looking for enough space to start a family, or someone whose children have left the nest. Perhaps some want additional space to have separate bedrooms or a recreation room. Also, there may not be any smaller dwellings available in the neighbourhood.

Considering the current state of housing, it may be beneficial to consider how the use of existing stock could be reimagined to address supply-side challenges. This study shows that there is extra space in different places and homes across the country, and the findings may help urban development and planning, while keeping in mind that both Canadians and housing policymakers can also be part of the solution.

2021 Census housing portrait in Canada

Contact information

For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free or Media Relations (