How many people share their time between more than one residence? A precise answer cannot be provided by the census, which is based on a list of dwellings and focuses on counting each person once only. But an accurate response to the question can be obtained via the 2011 survey of families and dwellings (Famille et logements), which was used by Christophe Imbert, Guilhem Deschamps, Éva Lelièvre and Catherine Bonvalet to count and characterize the individuals concerned.
1 People increasingly spend time in a dwelling other than their main residence or share their time between two residences. The trend is driven by student and professional mobility, an increase in marital breakdowns, and the arrival at retirement age of the baby-boom generation. How many people are concerned? When in their lives, and why, do people have two residences?
A phenomenon that concerns the under-25s especially
2 According to the 2011 “Famille et logements” survey (see Box), 11% of the adult population in France has two or more dwellings. The phenomenon mainly concerns young adults, but decreases sharply from 18 to 30 years of age, falling from 26% to 10% (Figure 1). Its frequency rises again at the end of working life, over the age of 60, to reach 13% at age 67, after which it declines.
3 The youngest individuals surveyed – aged under 25 – have two residences for family/partner and educational reasons (Figure 2). The second residence is mainly occupied on weekends and holidays (Figure 3) and is almost always connected to a family member.
4 After age 30, the second residence is used for holidays and leisure. This is especially so after age 60 (when retirement increases free time), for those with the physical health and financial resources to maintain a second home.  At ages 55-70, one-third of the people using a second residence for family or leisure reasons say they do so “several months a year” or “part of the time, alternately”, compared with just 13% of the working population. However, 64% of workers with a second residence use it on “weekends and holidays”.
Proportion of people with more than one residence, by age group
Proportion of people with more than one residence, by age groupCoverage: all respondents.
Reasons for second residence, by age group
Reasons for second residence, by age groupSeveral reasons
Coverage: Respondents with more than one residence.
Time spent at second residence, by age group
Time spent at second residence, by age groupLess frequently
Part of the time, alternately
A few months a year
Mainly in the week
Mainly on weekends and holidays
All year, or almost
Coverage: Respondents with more than one residence.
Mainly city-dwellers and professionals
5 Having two homes is most common among city dwellers. Some 57% of people with more than one dwelling have their main residence in an urban unit of over 200,000 inhabitants, compared with 40% for the rest of the population. The non-working population accounts for a large share of the people with two residences, 12% of them students and 25% retirees. But because they represent a small proportion of the overall population, they are only a minority of the total, despite their over-representation in this category.
6 The highest proportion of people with two residences is found among the middle and upper classes in large cities. As retirement approaches, people who live in an apartment in a large agglomeration (and the Paris region in particular), who are in a higher-level occupation or were so in the past, and who no longer live in the département they were born in, are more likely to share their time between two residences. This is the case for over half of all teachers in secondary and further education living in a rented apartment in a large agglomeration (over 200,000 inhabitants excluding Île-de-France). It is also the case for nearly 40% of retired professionals in the Paris region who own their apartment. Île-de-France residents who still live in the département they were born in are more likely to have a second residence, generally a second home connected to family roots. For other categories, the second home is a regular holiday residence (hotel, rented holiday home, holiday club, camp site) or a mobile home used for tourism. These practices are most common for inhabitants of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Haute-Normandie and Picardie regions.
Mobile working men
7 Only 1% of the adults in the survey, or just one-ninth of the total of people with two residences, said they used a second residence for professional reasons. However, at ages 30-55, employment is the most cited reason for having two homes, without being predominant (Figure 2). The family generally lives in the main residence, but in over half of all cases another family member lives in or owns the other residence.
8 At ages 25-45, only 4% of the population has two residences. But the proportion nears 10% in some primarily male occupations, including the police and the military, where people are more likely to report a second residence for professional reasons at the start of their career, while probably still attached to their parental household. This category is followed by relatively mobile occupations such as artists and journalists, as well as technical executives and business owners with ten or more employees.
Regional variations in the share of people with two dwellings, by age group
Regional variations in the share of people with two dwellings, by age groupCoverage: All respondents.
Île-de-France retirees and students from Auvergne and Brittany
9 With the exception of Île-de-France – the only region topping 15% – the share of the population with two residences is highest in the south and west of France (Figure 4.1). But the geographical distribution is different for each age group. For young adults (18-25), living in two residences is most common in Auvergne and Brittany, and much less so in western France and north of the Paris region (Figure 4.2). The distribution of young people with two residences is linked to enrolment in higher education, the rate being higher in areas where a higher proportion of 18-25 year olds are students. It also depends on the territorial reach of universities, as students obliged to travel more than one hour from their home tend to look for somewhere to live locally.
10 The same does not hold true for 55-74 year olds (Figure 4.4). The percentage of this age group with two dwellings is clearly higher in Île-de-France, at 20%, than in other regions, at 14%. In other regions, the share of 55-74 year olds with two residences is higher in the south. This tallies with the geographical distribution of people in higher level occupations: the greater their share, the higher the proportion of 55-74 year olds with two residences. But that rule does not apply in Alsace and Brittany, where the proportion of people in higher level occupations is high (12% of the working population) but few people have two residences. The opposite is true in Corsica, where higher level occupations account for less than 10% of the working population. Inter-regional differences are roughly the same for 26-54 year olds, with the share of people with two residences in Île-de-France being much higher than that in other regions (Figure 4.3).
Box. The “Famille et logements” survey and living in two residences
Because census taking is done on a dwelling-by-dwelling basis, it is not an ideal way to count the number of people who live in two residences.  Yet this is a widespread practice, particularly among the children of separated couples , students, non-cohabiting couples, and retirees. While household surveys by official statistical bodies sometimes include questions on all the dwellings in which the household regularly resides , the size of the sample is generally too small to accurately describe the living arrangements of specific populations. This requires a large-scale specialized survey. For the first time in France, the 2011 “Famille et logements” survey provides the basis for a detailed inventory of individuals aged 18 and over living in more than one residence.
The “Famille et logements” survey (EFL)
The “Famille et logements” survey, associated with the 2011 annual census survey, was carried out in Metropolitan France by INSEE on a representative sample of 360,000 people aged 18 and over. The findings reveal the diversity of family configurations and the spatial distribution of households, including the practice of having more than one residence. The size of the sample makes it possible, for the first time, to analyse the practice of living in two residences by age, family situation, geographical situation and social environment. More information: http://lili-efl2011.site.ined.fr/en/
Identifying people with two residences in the “Famille et logements” survey (EFL)
The “Famille et logements” questionnaire was limited to gathering information on a single residence in addition to the main residence where the individuals are counted. The existence of a second residence was established through three questions. Two of these concerned time spent at the main residence, while the third, “Do you also reside habitually elsewhere?”, invited respondents to confirm the existence of the additional residence and its use ( “To be with my partner or family”, “Studies”, “Work”, “Leisure or holidays”, “Other reason”). Respondents were asked to provide information on the type of residence, the locality, the owner, and the other people using it.
11 While more than one person in ten said they lived regularly in two residences at the time of the survey, a large number of individuals, varying in line with social category or origin, have lived or will live, at some point in their life, in a dwelling other than their main residence part of the time. The increasing number of people with two residences reflects major shifts in society, namely the growing mobility of French people in their educational and working careers, longer periods of retirement, and changes in the ways that couples and families live together.