How many rooms do I need for a large family in Canada?

Posted by David Singh on May 6, 2017 2:02:00 AM

Family in a 3D house illustration - isolated over a white background.jpegThis is something of a complex topic and the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (CNOS) has been developed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to help determine the number of bedrooms a dwelling should have to provide freedom from crowding.

The CNOS is based on the number, age, gender and interrelationships of household members.

The CNOS states that

   * no more than two people shall share a bedroom

   * parents or couples may share a bedroom

   * children under 5 years, either of the same gender or opposite gender may share a bedroom

   * children under 18 years of the same gender may share a bedroom

   * a child aged 5 to 17 years should not share a bedroom with a child under 5 of the opposite gender

   * single adults 18 years and over and any unpaired children require a separate bedroom

Usually the rental agent will not enforce these standards and you will be free to organise your home as you see fit.  Many families already in Canada do not abide by these guidelines and are completely fine.

There are some practical concerns for having enough space for your family when looking for where to live in Canada.

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If you plan on your children sharing a room, bedtime may become an issue.  If the older child is forced to go to bed at the same time as the younger this can cause conflict and even resentment.  The larger the difference in age the bigger the problem this will be.  Also, you may find that the kids will spend most of the night talking and won’t go to sleep until quite late.  After all, a move across the world to Canada is quite exciting so they will have a lot to talk about.

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Personal Space

This is a big one amongst siblings and parents alike.  If the space you plan on living in is small, then you can look to trying to provide each member of the house with their own space to call there own, or a place to keep their toys or other possessions.


This is a big problem for children that are of a different gender.  As the CNOS guidelines state, 5 years old and up is a good age to separate children of different genders into their own private bedrooms.  If this is not possible, then you can work around the problem by having explicit boundaries in place to prevent conflict or embarrassment.


If the concept of sharing a bedroom is new to your children then you will be in for a potentially difficult transition.  In order to help prevent any conflicts between them a strong effort should be made to explain that this is both of their rooms and to not let one child dominate more than their fair share of the space.

With patience and understanding you will be able to live in a smaller than ideal place in Canada.  If you find this to be too much of a challenge you can always move to an area that has more affordable larger homes with more bedrooms.

Topics: Housing in Canada, renting in canada, After You Arrive, Before You Arrive

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