2016 Census: Housing affordability continues to grip the country

2016 Census: Housing affordability continues to grip the country

30 June 2017

The results of Australia’s 2016 Census have been released. It has revealed that more people are renting, mortgage debt is growing and housing affordability continues to grip the country.

Here are some highlights from a population and housing perspective:


The Census reveals there are quite a few more of us than five years ago—1,894,175 to be precise. That’s about 1,037 extra Aussies every day since the 2011 Census. Put another way, we’ve grown since the 2011 Census by roughly the same amount as Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart’s total population combined in 2016.

  • 23.4 million people live in Australia, up 8.8 per cent since 2011.
  • Almost 80 per cent of people live in the eastern mainland states.
  • The ACT is the fastest growing state (+11.2 per cent), while Serpentine Jarrahdale, near Perth, WA, is the fastest growing shire (+51 per cent).
  • Every week, on average, 200 more people settle in Melbourne than Sydney, but Sydney still has over 300,000 more residents.


We’re still a nation of homeowners, or aspirational home owners. But the proportion who rent is slowly growing, while the number who own their home outright are declining.

  • According to the Census, 35 per cent of household properties are mortgaged, 31 per cent are owned outright (the lowest recorded number in 70 years), and 30.9 per cent are rented (the highest figure since 1954).
  • Detached houses account for 72.9 per cent of Australian homes, down from 76 per cent in 2011. Here are the rest: Semi-detached homes or terrace townhouses (13.1 per cent), flats and apartments (13.1 per cent), caravans (0.3 per cent).
  • The number of homes left unoccupied rose 0.5 per cent since 2011. That equates to 105,000 more empty dwellings according to one estimate.


The Census confirms that our median personal incomes are rising. The national weekly median was $662 for people aged 15 years and over—up from $557 in 2011. These figures are in actual dollars and do not account for inflation.

  • The median weekly income by states is as follows: WA ($724), NSW ($664), QLD ($660), VIC ($644), SA ($600), and TAS ($573).
  • The average monthly household mortgage repayment is $1755, down $45 since 2011.
  • On the other hand, ‘rental stress’—defined as spending more than 30 per cent of disposable income on rent—climbed from 10.4 per cent in 2011 to 11.5 per cent nationwide.


In short, the Census shows that there are more of us, we’re living longer, becoming more urbanised, more diverse, less religious, living closer together, earning more and forming the same type of family unit.

That’s Australia today.