toronto net worth

Average net worth for Canadians under 35 has risen everywhere but Toronto

Well here's a depressing bit of data for young residents of Canada's largest city: Your demographic has been growing more and more broke while the rest of the country thrives.

A newly-published piece of analysis from Better Dwelling co-founder Stephen Punwasi shows that Canadian households made significant gains in terms of their net worths between 1999 and 2019.

Drawing upon the recently-released Survey of Financial Security report from Statistics Canada, Punwasi concluded that "generally speaking, net worth soared for most demographics" over the past two decades.

"However, there are some notable exceptions, like people under 35 in Toronto," he writes. "Those people have seen their median net worth drop compared to their peers 20 years ago."

According to StatsCan, the median net worth (defined as the amount one would have if they sold all of their assets and paid off all of their debts) for all Canadian families was $329,900 in 2019.

That's an increase of 115.5 per cent since 1999, though not a consistent or demographically-balanced one, with plenty of ups and downs along the way.

As Punwasi mentioned, most of Canada saw gains from an overall rise in wealth. Even families helmed by people under 35, on the whole, saw a jump of more than 87 per cent in their net worth over the past 20 years.

Toronto and Calgary are, in fact, the only two Canadian cities in which young people (those under 35) didn't experience any gains in net worth. Rather, Toronto saw the median net worth of people under 35 fall by 10.1 per cent to reach $48,000 on average between 1999 and 2019.

Given how much higher salaries for many jobs are in Toronto than they would be in other Canadian cities and towns, this may come across as confusing — until you take housing into consideration.

"Homeowners reported a higher median net worth ($685,400) compared with renters ($24,000)," reported StatsCan when releasing the results of 2019's survey.

"For those nearing retirement age (55 to 64), the median net worth of homeowners was $952,100, compared with $40,000 for renters. This suggests that renters in this age group have not accumulated a large nest-egg in preparation for retirement."

Ah, to have purchased property a zillion years ago, before home ownership became all but impossible for most young people in Toronto.

"Likewise, few young renters have accumulated as much net worth as their homeowner counterparts. Median net worth of homeowners under 35 years of age was $272,100, while median net worth of renters was $14,500 for the same age group," continues the report.

"In 2019, 1 in 20 young renters (5.0 per cent) had accumulated as much net worth as the median young homeowner."

Punwasi also attributes much of the discrepancy between Canadians under 35 in general and those in Toronto to real estate.

"One important factor to consider for these demographics is their age in 1999," he writes of Canadians between 45 and 54, whose net worths saw the fastest growth over the time period surveyed.

"Those between 45 and 54 would have been 24 and 35 at the first measurement. In a city like Toronto, they would have been buying real estate at the inflation adjusted trough," he notes.

"Buying at this time would have accelerated their net worth, with ideal market timing. It would have been near perfect generational timing in a city like Toronto."

Those who purchased in Toronto two years ago may have seen some gains, but the portion of people under 35 buying would have been a lot smaller.

In 2019, the average home buyer across all of Canada was 36 years old, according to Punwasi, and "on average they would have lacked any real estate gains."

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