Family residential choices in Montreal metropolitan area: A community-based analysis

  • Jean-Philippe Meloche École d’urbanisme et d’architecture de paysage, Université de Montréal
Keywords: Family, children, residential choice, suburbs, central neighbourhoods, Montreal


Whether families with children choose to live in the suburbs to benefit from cheap land or do so to avoid decaying socio-economic conditions of central neighbourhoods remains a central question for public policy. To explore that question, this article investigates the characteristics of communities within the Montreal metropolitan area where families with children have chosen to live (108 communities). Three different analyses are undertaken. The first analysis is a community-based estimation of the Alonso model. It shows that the average price of a single-family house within a community varies with distance to the Central Business District (CBD), and that space per household for housing grows in relation with distance. The second analysis is inspired by life-cycle arguments. It shows that housing space is not as significant as new housing development or poverty to explain the proportion of families with children in communities of the metropolitan area. The third analysis, using data pertaining to families with children only, shows that communities closer to the CBD have a higher proportion of low-income families as well as high-income ones. These communities also have a higher proportion of families with parents that are immigrants, have university degrees, are single (divorced), and are under 35 years old. Mothers are also more likely to be active in these communities. We conclude that developing homogenous neighbourhoods designed for upper-middle-class households and knowledge-based workers may better contribute to the attraction of families with children in Montreal’s central neighbourhoods than building affordable housing.