StatsCAN Plus

Canadians on the move

March 29, 2023, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

Considering that moving is deemed among the top five most stressful life events, what reasons make Canadians go through the stress and aggravation of moving? In the two years leading up to 2021, 2.1 million (13.8% of 15 million) Canadian households moved. Among these households, renters (1.2 million) were more likely to be on the move than owners (870,000).

One size does not fit all

Most movers (70.6%) gave only one reason for their decision. Seeking bigger or better housing (28.0%) and seeking a more desirable neighbourhood (16.8%) were the most popular reasons given. However, moving can be motivated by many factors, and what Canadians need or want depends on where they are in life.

Early life moves are marked by independence, school and work

Young adulthood is a stage in life where many Canadians are leaving their parental home to pursue postsecondary education or start a career. Just over half (52.3%) of young adult movers (15 to 24 years old) said they moved to form their own household (21.1%), for school (18.2%) or for employment (12.3%).

Most young adults rent (82.1%) since they may not want to or are not able to own their homes, and renters and owners did not always offer the same reasons for their moves. For young movers who were owners, employment (29.9%) was reported more often as a reason for moving than school (2.4%), while for those who were renters, school (22.5%) was reported more often than employment (8.5%).

Putting down roots for career and family

Millennials (25 to 40 years old) are at a different stage in life than younger Canadians and may be establishing their careers or preparing for their growing families. When we asked millennials who moved within the two years before 2021, 15.8% said they moved for employment, 10.4% moved to reduce commuting time, and 16.9% moved because of a change in household size.

Access to suitable housing is an important condition to having children. At the same time, millennials moved for bigger or better housing (34.2%) most often when compared with other generations.

The dream of homeownership is still alive for many Canadians, and 56.2% of millennials owned their home. When looking at millennial owners who moved in the two years before 2021, 46.0% did so to become homeowners.

Becoming a homeowner remains a strong motivator throughout adulthood

Members of Generation X (41 to 55 years old) were motivated to move by many of the same reasons as millennials. However, compared with their younger counterparts, more Gen Xers were already homeowners (72.9%).

Among members of Generation X who moved, 31.4% did so to become homeowners, showing that the desire to own persists but that some Canadians wait longer than others.

While millennial (16.9%) and Generation X (15.5%) movers reported a change in household size at similar rates, this reason may mean different things for the two groups. Older Gen Xers may be downsizing with an empty nest, while millennials may be welcoming newborns to their home.

Preparing for retirement may involve downsizing and managing a budget

As we age and gain valuable life experience, our priorities change. Older Canadian who are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning, and whose children may be having children of their own, are focused on different things when making housing choices.

Reducing housing costs (27.3%) was the most common reason that older movers (56 years and older) offered. Some retirees may be on fixed incomes and trying to manage a budget, while others may be looking to spend more of their money on leisure activities or travel than on housing.

Being close to family (19.1%) was another common reason provided by older movers, while many also had their health (12.7%) in mind when moving.

Sometimes people have no choice

Some movers (6.0%) did not have a choice in the matter and were forced to give up their home. Most, whether they are owners or renters, find themselves renting after a forced move, but forced moves affected renters more, regardless of age.

For movers, 7.0% of young renters (15 to 24 years) told us it was because of a forced move. Millennial renters (7.6%) reported forced moves at a similar rate, while Gen Xers (11.2%) and people aged 56 years and older (12.0%) had higher rates of forced moves.

Contact information

For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136514-283-8300; or Media Relations (