Rising housing costs leave Canadians without retirement funds

By Andrew Rickard | May 27 2016 09:43AM

A survey from Manulife Bank shows that some homeowners are struggling to pay bills as housing costs rise. Many are also concerned that they will not have enough money to retire.

The Manulife Bank survey reveals that increasing housing costs are making it difficult for many Canadians not only to pay their day-to-day bills, but also to set aside enough money for their retirement: 37% of survey respondents admitted that they had been "caught short" at least once in the past year and did not have enough money on hand to cover their expenses, and 60% are not confident that they will have enough savings to last them through their old age.

Highest housing debt loads

Manulife says the average Canadian homeowner with a mortgage now has an outstanding balance of $181,000, up from the $175,000 average mortgage debt reported last fall. Housing debt loads remain highest in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, and in Toronto, with an average of $259,000, $217,000, and $194,000 respectively.

The survey also found that Canadians have most of their money tied up in real estate: 80% say their homes will account for 80% of their wealth when they retire, and another 17% believe their homes will make up between 60% and 80% of their household wealth when they finish work.

House-rich and asset poor

"Our research has consistently found that becoming debt-free is among the top financial priorities for Canadian homeowners.  They must also find a balance between debt repayment and saving for retirement so they don't end up house-rich and asset poor," comments Manulife Bank president and CEO Rick Lunny.

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