Multi-generational living, a practice that dates back centuries, is experiencing a resurgence in the modern world, especially in the backyards of Southern Ontario. The integration of family members from different generations living together on one property in Garden Suites and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), has created a renewed interest in communal living. Let’s explore some of the diverse benefits of this living arrangement.
Health and Well-being
Multi-generational living often leads to better mental and physical well-being. The elderly benefit from companionship and assistance with daily tasks, while younger generations can enjoy the enrichment that comes with diverse family interactions. Shared responsibilities and mutual care create a nurturing environment that positively impacts overall health. Living close to family members fosters daily interactions, shared experiences, and emotional support. Grandparents can engage with grandchildren, parents can rely on elders’ wisdom, and childcare, or assistance with tasks is literally steps away. Living with family members from different generations ensures the transmission of cultural values, traditions, and skills. Grandparents can share historical insights and traditional practices, while younger family members introduce new ideas and technologies. This reciprocal learning fosters a rich educational environment.
As we all know, Southern Ontario, especially the GTA, has seen skyrocketing housing costs in the past few years. In this landscape, multi-generational homes can offer economic relief. Shared expenses, the possibility of rental income from ADUs, and the ability to pool resources can make housing affordable to those who might otherwise find it to be out of reach. Compared to the cost of renting or buying a typical condo, the cost of building the same size (and better designed) space in your backyard is a bargain.
Sustainability and Environmental Impact
The trend towards Garden Suites and ADUs in areas like Kitchener-Waterloo reflects a broader move towards sustainability. Smaller living spaces are typically more energy-efficient, and shared resources mean less waste. When low carbon thinking informs the design from the start, it can be very affordable to go green with up to 80% reductions in carbon footprints possible. By designing homes to accommodate multiple generations, there is a flexibility to adapt to changing needs that reduces the likelihood of needing to renovate or move in future.
The rise of multi-generational living in Southern Ontario is not merely a reaction to economic pressures or housing trends; it’s a conscious choice reflecting a desire for connection, sustainability, cultural continuity, and community building.
While the high cost of housing in areas like the GTA may have been an initial catalyst, the enduring appeal of this living arrangement lies in its multifaceted benefits. In a world where individualism often takes center stage, the embrace of multi-generational living signifies a return to collective values and shared experiences, making it a relevant and valuable choice for modern Canadian families.
1. “Toronto’s red-hot condo market”, CBC, 2022.
2. “The Challenge of Home Ownership in Toronto”, Globe and Mail, 2022.
3. “Sustainable Housing: A Toronto Perspective”, CBC, 2022.