Family Living in the Sky: North America’s Newest Reality

As land available for new construction shrinks in urban centers across North America, governments, builders, and families are looking upward. Living high in the sky isn’t how many young families would have envisioned the family home, but for many, it’s a reality.

This new reality is playing out in Toronto, Canada, where family-sized condo units are rare. Some 80% of new housing built in the past decade are buildings of five or more stories. Yet fewer than 10% of high-rise homes in the city have three or more bedrooms. And this is presenting a problem for young families who want to live and work there.

According to a recent story inĀ Citylab.com, Toronto is on its way. Guidelines generated in a 2015 study by the city’s Planning Division were adopted this summer by its City Council and will be used in evaluating current and future projects. The guidelines, points out CityLab contributing writer Mimi Kirk, “are not only applicable to Toronto, but to cities across North America and beyond …”

Among the recommendations: 15% of units should include two bedrooms and 10% should include three, with these larger units located on lower levels, close to each other, and adjoining outdoor spaces.

Meanwhile, in New York City, where raising kids in high-rises is nothing new (but not particularly family-friendly), some existing buildings are currently updating and repurposing their amenities, thanks to the growing number of New Yorkers choosing to raise their families in the city.

Maybe life in the sky isn’t such a hardship after all.

NAR Poll: Home Affordability and the American Dream

Do you dream of owning a home someday? If so, you’re not alone. The desire to put down roots and invest in a home is a common one.

And this dream is still strong across North America. The problem is, many can’t afford it.

To many, the dream seems elusive as a result of the significant cost not just of purchasing a home but also in carrying it. Many who would like to and can pursue the dream never will due to fears associated with the lack of affordability (“Will I be in over my head?” “Will I lose money?”).

According to the 2017 National Housing Pulse Survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 84% of Americans view owning a home as “a good financial decision.” And 80% of respondents see homeownership as a way of building equity toward their retirement. As well, 50% believe homeownership is an avenue to a secure neighborhood and a stable family environment. However, the positive sentiments don’t necessarily mean all of these respondents will be home-shopping this year.

Affordability is a concern

Why? Some 60% of those responding to NAR’s survey identify affordability as one of the top five challenges of homeownership. Many also believe the myth that they need significant savings (more than 15%) for a down payment on a home. According to the survey, 69% felt a “reasonable” down payment was 10% or less, while more than 40% believe lenders require down payments of 15% or greater.

That said, the survey itself supports a willingness for people to learn, wait and save – if it means the culmination of their dream.

NAR President Bill Brown, quoted in an article in RISMedia, says: “Despite the growing concern over affordable housing, this survey makes it clear that a strong majority still believe in homeownership and aspire to own a home of their own.”