How Australians live


The data is in and the way Australians live is changing, with the latest Census from the Australian Bureau of Statistics finding more residents now live in apartments than they did in 2016 and fewer people own their own home outright.

Released on June 28, the Census data offers a fascinating insight into the changing face of home ownership and renting in Australia.

So let’s look at a quick recap of the key points…

More dwellings for more people

On Census night 2021, there were nearly 11 million (10,852,208) private dwellings counted across the nation.

This is an increase of nearly one million (950,712) since 2016.

These dwellings accommodate our increasing population, with the ABS noting Australia’s population has doubled in the last 50 years.

The population is currently sitting at 25.5 million people, which is an increase of two million (or 8.6 per cent) since 2016.

More apartments

The Census broke down dwellings into different types, finding 70 per cent were separate houses, 16 per cent were apartments and 13 per cent were townhouses.

“The proportion of apartments continues to increase, with apartments accounting for nearly one-third (30.9 per cent) of the increase in private dwellings since 2016,” the ABS noted.

For the first time, the 2021 Census also identified high-rise apartments, which they defined as nine or more storeys high.

Their data indicates over half a million people (550,592) live in Australia’s 370,000 (368,943) high-rise apartments while 2.5 million people (2,620,903) or 10.3 per cent now live in apartments.

Not just traditional dwellings

The most recent Census also counted some less traditional dwellings including caravans and houseboats.

It found 58,155 people lived in caravans, while 29,369 lived in cabins and houseboats.

Not all dwellings were occupied on Census night. The 2021 Census found there were more than one million unoccupied dwellings across the country, including holiday homes and vacant investment properties.

Home ownership

The number of people who owned their home outright decreased between 2016 and 2021.

In total, the Census found two thirds of households either owned their home outright or with a mortgage, which was similar to all the Censuses right back to 1996.

However, the proportion of households that owned their property outright with a mortgage had dropped 10 per cent, from 41 per cent in 1996 to 31 per cent in 2021.

“Households that own with a mortgage have increased from about a quarter of all households (26.2 per cent) in 1996 to 35 per cent (35.0 per cent),” the ABS said.

“Over the last 25 years, the number of homes owned outright has increased by 10 per cent, while the number owned with a mortgage has doubled (increased by 96.8 per cent).”

Meanwhile, 30.6 per cent of the population rent the property where they live.

Other interesting data

When it came to who was living in a household, 70.5 per cent were family households, 25.6 per cent were lone households and 3.9 per cent were group households.

The Census also found families came in all different shapes and forms.

On Census night 2021, they found:

  • There were 5.5 million couple families, of which 53 per cent had children living with them and 47 per cent did not have children living with them.
  • 2.5 million (2,550,284) families had children under the age of 15 years
  • There were more than a million one parent families and as a proportion of families this is increasing slowly, from under 15 per cent in 1996 to nearly 16 per cent in 2021.

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