2071.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia - Stories from the Census, 2016  
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APARTMENT LIVING


INTRODUCTION

More Australians than ever are taking up apartment living, whether out of preference, convenience, or for other reasons. The 2016 Census of Population and Housing found that 10% (2,348,434) of all people in Australia spent Census night in an apartment. There is now around one occupied apartment for every five occupied separate houses in Australia - compared with one to every seven, back in 1991. The growth in apartment living is primarily an urban phenomenon, concentrated within Australia's major capital cities.


NUMBER OF OCCUPIED APARTMENTS

Over the past 25 years, the number of occupied apartments (including flats and units, excluding townhouses) in Australia has increased by 78% to 1,214,372 dwellings at the 2016 Census. There has been a steady increase in the number of apartments since 1991, although the Census shows slowing growth in the last five years. Most notably, the number of occupied apartments increased by 20% between 1991 and 1996, then by almost 17% between 2001 and 2006.

Graph Image for Dwelling Counts - Apartments(a), 1991 - 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Includes occupied flats, units and apartments.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 1991 - 2016.




COMPARISON WITH OCCUPIED HOUSES

While the number of occupied apartments has increased over the last 25 years, the number of occupied separate houses has also continued to grow (from 4,533,595 in 1991 to 6,343,419 in 2016). There is now around one occupied apartment for every five occupied houses in Australia - compared with one for every seven in 1991.

Graph Image for Dwelling Counts - Separate Houses and Apartments(a) 1991 - 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Apartments include flats and units. Dwelling counts refer to occupied private dwellings only.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 1991 - 2016.




HIGH-RISE APARTMENTS

Apartments are associated with high-rise living. Indeed, Census results confirm the rising prevalence of apartments in four or more storey blocks. In 1996, nearly one in five (18%) of all Australia's occupied apartments had this structural characteristic. By 2016 this had more than doubled to 38% of all occupied apartments (or 463,557 in number) within four or more storey blocks.

Graph Image for Percentage of Apartments an a Four or More Storey Block, 1991 - 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 1991 - 2016.




WHERE ARE THE APARTMENTS?

States and Territories

Of the 1,214,372 occupied apartments in Australia in 2016, nearly half (47%) were in New South Wales, followed by 23% in Victoria and 17% in Queensland.

New South Wales also had the highest proportion of apartments relative to all occupied private dwellings (at 21%). The Northern Territory was also prominent with 17% of its occupied private dwellings being apartments.


APARTMENTS: PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION BY STATE AND TERRITORY(a), 2016

State/Territory
As % of all apartments in Australia
As % of all occupied private dwellings in state/territory

New South Wales
47.2
20.7
Victoria
22.8
12.3
Queensland
17.4
11.8
South Australia
3.8
6.8
Western Australia
4.7
6.1
Tasmania
1.0
6.0
Northern Territory
1.1
17.0
Australian Capital Territory
2.0
16.0

Australia(b)
100.0
13.7

(a) Includes flats and apartments. Occupied private dwellings only.
(b) Includes details for the Other Territories.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016.
Capital Cities

Apartments were mostly located in the capital city regions. Three capital cities contained over 90% of all occupied apartments in their State. They were Melbourne (94%), Perth (92%) and Adelaide (91%). The apartment share was more equal in Queensland, with Brisbane having 52% of Queensland's total.

Graph Image for Apartments - Percentage in Capital Cities(a), 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Greater Capital City Regions, ASGS. The ACT is treated as one region; hence there is no capital city/rest of territory split.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016.




PEOPLE IN APARTMENTS

In 2016, almost 10% (2,348,434) of people in Australia spent Census night in an apartment. Most (95%) were at their usual apartment home. There were also 128,520 visitors staying in apartments, with 40.3% from overseas and the remainder visiting from elsewhere in Australia.

Over half (51%) of all people in Australia's apartments on Census night, 2016, were counted in New South Wales. This was more than double the 22% share recorded in Victoria.
New South Wales also had the most apartment visitors - at 51% of the national count.

Including visitors, the average number of people counted per apartment on Census night was 1.9. In comparison, the average number of people counted in separate houses was 2.8.


PERSONS COUNTED IN APARTMENTS BY STATE AND TERRITORY, 2016(a)

State/Territory
At their usual home
Total - including visitors(b)

New South Wales
1,138,736
1,196,187
Victoria
475,993
506,444
Queensland
356,233
381,099
South Australia
73,309
77,237
Western Australia
91,359
97,456
Tasmania
18,615
19,701
Northern Territory
25,751
27,878
Australian Capital Territory
39,599
42,061

Australia(c)
2,219,924
2,348,434

(a) Place of enumeration. Includes visitors from overseas or elsewhere in Australia - who were present in apartments on Census night.
(b) Includes details for the Other Territories.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016.


AGE AND SEX

Within the apartment dweller population

In 2016, 29% of all apartment residents (excluding visitors) in Australia were in the 25-34 age group. Another 11% were children aged 0-14 years, up slightly from the 10% share recorded a decade earlier.

Graph Image for Age and Sex Distribution of People in their Usual Apartment Home, 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016.



The median age of males and females who usually lived in an apartment was the same (33 years). This was much lower than the medians recorded for all males and females in Australia (37 and 38 years respectively).

People living in apartments were more likely to be female than male (51% compared with 49%) - mirroring the proportions observed for the overall population at the 2016 Census. Females were also slightly more likely to be living in apartments in their later years than males, perhaps reflecting longer female life expectancy and different lifestyle and accommodation preferences.

Compared with the overall population living in private dwellings

In 2016, one in five (21%) of all people aged 25-34 years (and living in private dwellings) were apartment residents. Nearly one in eight (12%) of all persons aged 85 years or more - and 35-44 years - were also apartment residents.

Younger people were also quite prominent. More than one in ten (11%) of Australia's youth population (aged 15-24 years) resided in apartments. Similarly, nearly one in ten (9%) of all children aged 0-4 years had an apartment home.

Graph Image for Proportion of Total Population(a) per Age Group, Living in Apartment Homes, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Total population counted in occupied private dwellings.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016.




REGIONAL DISTRIBUTION OF APARTMENT DWELLERS

In 2016, 85% of Australia's apartment dwellers (excluding visitors) lived in capital city regions, with other concentrations mostly found along the eastern coast. This distribution is shown by this map of Australia's Statistical Area Level 4 (SA4) regions with capital city insets.


PEOPLE IN THEIR APARTMENT HOME, SA4 REGIONS
OF AUSTRALIA, 2016
A map of where apartment dwellers live - SA4 regions of Australia




At the smaller Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) geography, Melbourne SA2 (situated in the inner city) had the most apartment dwellers in Australia with 37,916 people, 88% of whom were counted at their usual home - with the rest being visitors from overseas or elsewhere in Australia. Second ranked was Waterloo - Beaconsfield, just 5 km from the Sydney CBD, with 27,541 apartment dwellers. Once semi-industrial, this region has experienced new residential development, particularly in Beaconsfield, thus transforming the nature of the region. Also in Australia's top 5 were Sydney - Haymarket - The Rocks, Parramatta - Rosehill and Perth City.

Melbourne was also notable in having 4,420 temporary visitors in its apartments on 2016 Census night, with 69% originating from overseas. None of the other 'top three' SA2 regions across Australia matched these visitor levels.

Not all prominent apartment regions were in the inner capital city areas. Regions such as Surfers Paradise, Mermaid Beach - Broadbeach, Glenelg, Nightcliff and Sandy Bay suggest a second view - that apartment living can also be beach-side living.


PERSONS COUNTED IN APARTMENTS - TOP THREE SA2 REGIONS IN EACH STATE AND TERRITORY, 2016(a)

Statistical Area Level 2 Regions
At their usual apartment home
Total counted(b)

New South Wales
Waterloo-Beaconsfield
26,079
27,541
Sydney-Haymarket-The Rocks
23,765
26,355
Parramatta-Rosehill
23,046
24,294

Victoria
Melbourne
33,496
37,916
St Kilda
17,650
18,614
Southbank
16,899
18,540

Queensland
Surfers Paradise
16,215
17,772
Newstead-Bowen Hills
8,427
8,905
Mermaid Beach-Broadbeach
8,129
8,781

South Australia
Adelaide
7,036
7,721
Glenelg
3,799
4,009
Goodwood-Millswood
3,338
3,484

Western Australia
Perth City
20,955
22,755
Wembley-West Leederville-Glendalough
4,733
4,967
Subiaco-Shenton Park
3,902
4,136

Tasmania
Hobart
2,435
2,648
Sandy Bay
1,422
1,523
Glenorchy
1,152
1,214

Northern Territory
Darwin City
5,170
5,722
Larrakeyah
1,831
2,046
Nightcliff
1,869
2,021

Australian Capital Territory
Belconnen
3,647
3,860
Braddon
3,426
3,690
Kingston
3,411
3,641

(a) Place of enumeration. (b) Includes visitors from overseas or elsewhere in Australia who were present in apartments on Census night.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016.


COUNTRY OF BIRTH

In 2016, more than four in every ten (44%) apartment residents were born in Australia. Around one in ten (11%) were born in North - East Asia (which includes China and Hong Kong) and Southern and Central Asia, which includes India (9%).

From another perspective - and highlighting the multi-cultural nature of apartment living - only 6.7% of all Australian born people (who live in private dwellings) were living in apartments on Census night, 2016. This compares with 17% of all the overseas born population.

Over 31% of all people born in North-East Asia - and in Australia on Census night - were living in apartment homes. There were also higher proportions of people born in Southern and Central Asia (26%) and the Americas (24%) counted in their apartment homes.


PERSONS COUNTED AT THEIR USUAL APARTMENT HOME BY COUNTRY OF BIRTH, AUSTRALIA, 2016

Country of birth
% of all persons in apartments
% of persons by Country of birth who live in apartments

Australia (including the External Territories)
44.2
6.7
Oceania and Antarctica (excluding Australia)
3.0
10.9
North-West Europe
6.2
10.4
Southern and Eastern Europe
3.2
11.7
North Africa and the Middle East
2.8
17.5
South-East Asia
6.5
17.4
North-East Asia
10.6
31.3
Southern and Central Asia
9.0
26.3
Americas
2.8
24.3
Sub Saharan Africa
1.7
12.6
Other
0.1
21.5
Not stated
9.7
16.1

Total(a)(b)
100.0
10.2

(a) Please note that there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from table totals.
(b) Place of enumeration.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016.


HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES

In 2016, the most prevalent type of household living in apartments in 2016 were one family households at 48% - up from 45% in 2011. The proportion of group households also rose, up from 8.7% in 2011 to 9.6% in 2016.

Families with children were also well represented in the apartment living population. At the 2016 Census, families with children (and either one or two parents) comprised almost 44% of all families living in apartments in Australia.

The proportion of lone person households living in apartments has declined, down from 46% in 2011 to 42% in 2016.

Graph Image for Households(a) Living in Apartments, Australia, 2011 and 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes visitor only households and other non-classifiable households. Two or more family households have been excluded; they comprised less than 1% of households in apartments in 2011 and 2016.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2011 and 2016.




TENURE IN APARTMENTS

The 2016 Census showed that tenure for all apartments across Australia was:13% owned outright, 15% owned with a mortgage and well over half (59%) being rented. In contrast, 34% of separate houses were owned outright, 38% owned with a mortgage, and 21% rented.

Both Queensland and New South Wales were prominent in having almost 14% of occupied apartments owned outright. In contrast, the ACT had the second lowest proportion of apartments owned outright (8%) but the highest proportion of mortgaged apartments (19%).

In all states and territories, the majority of apartments were rented. The highest proportions were in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and South Australia where around two-thirds were rented (or 66%, 64% and 63% respectively).

Graph Image for Apartments by Tenure Type - Percentage Distribution(a) by State and Territory, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Tenure type 'not stated' included in the calculation of percentages. (b) Includes apartments purchased under a shared equity scheme. (c) Includes apartments with free rental.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016.



INCOME AND HOUSING PAYMENTS


Household income

In 2016, the median total income for apartment households was $1,280 a week, considerably lower than the median of $1,526 recorded by households living in separate houses. This may reflect in part the younger age profile of apartment dwellers, and the lower average number of people living in apartments (compared with separate houses).

The highest total income medians were recorded by apartment households in the Northern Territory ($1,862 per week) and Australian Capital Territory ($1,669). These were more than double the corresponding medians for apartment households in Tasmania ($687) and South Australia ($803).

Rent and mortgage payments

Rent charges can be determined by the location, size and condition of the dwelling. Also, Australia's apartments are mostly situated in central, urban areas. Such factors can influence the amount of rent being paid by apartment households. In 2016, rent or mortgage payments were more expensive for people living in apartments than for those living in separate houses.

For apartment households in Australia, in 2016, the median weekly rent payment was $365 - higher than the corresponding median for renters of separate houses ($330). A smaller difference ($295 compared with $280) was observed in 2011.

Graph Image for Median Weekly Rent - Apartments and Separate Houses, 2011 and 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2011 and 2016.



In 2016, the median monthly mortgage repayment for apartment households was $1,830, again higher than the $1,733 median for separate houses.

Households renting an apartment were four times as likely to pay 30% or more of their weekly income on rent than renters of separate houses: at 28% compared with 7.3%. In contrast, 4.5% of households with mortgaged apartments spent 30% or more of their monthly income on mortgage payments - compared with 8.1% of households with mortgaged separate houses.


HOUSING SUITABILITY

Housing suitability compares the number of bedrooms in a dwelling with a range of household demographics, such as the number of usual residents, their age and sex.

Using criteria developed by the Canadian National Occupancy Standard, it can identify if an apartment is either under-utilised (with spare bedrooms) or over-utilised (needing extra bedrooms).

In 2016, it was more likely that households living in apartments did not require an extra bedroom, or had none spare, than those living in separate houses (42% compared with 13%). They were also more likely to have one spare bedroom (38% compared with 29%).

Graph Image for Apartments(a) and Houses - Their Suitability for Usually Resident Households(b), 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Includes occupied flats, units and apartments. (b) Excludes visitor only and non-classifiable households that were enumerated in apartments.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016.



Regional details

While the need for extra rooms can be an issue for regions with seasonal employment or transient student populations in particular, it is negligible nationally. Just 3,711 (or 0.3%) of all apartments in Australia needed three or more extra bedrooms, on Census night, 2016.

The majority of over-utilised apartments (2,596, or 70%) were located in New South Wales. More specifically, within the inner city SA2s of Sydney-Haymarket-The Rocks (with 408 apartments requiring three or more extra bedrooms), Pyrmont-Ultimo (149 apartments in need), Auburn-North (146) and Strathfield (109).

Interstate, Melbourne was prominent - with 191 apartments needing 3 or more extra bedrooms to suitably house their occupants.


MOTOR VEHICLES

In 2016, nearly half (47%) of households living in apartments had one registered motor vehicle - garaged, parked on-site or near their home. The 'two car' lifestyle was maintained by only 16% of apartment households. In contrast, only 28% of households in separate houses had one vehicle, increasing to 39% for two vehicles.

Graph Image for Motor Vehicles per Apartment(a) or Separate House, Percentage Distribution(b) - Australia, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Includes occupied flats, units and apartments. (b) Number of vehicles 'not stated' included in the calculation of percentages.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016.



Nearly 21% of Australia's apartment households reported having no motor vehicle. This may reflect the inner city location of some apartments - and their close proximity to work, public transport and amenities. Victoria was particularly notable, with a quarter (25%) of its apartment households being without a vehicle.

Regional details

The following SA2 regions had the most apartment households without a motor vehicle: Melbourne (12,357); Sydney-Haymarket-The Rocks (5,134); Carlton (4,960); Potts Point-Woolloomooloo (4,388); Waterloo-Beaconsfield (3,721); Redfern-Chippendale (3,690); and Southbank (3,018).

On the flip side, just 3.1% of apartment dwellings in Australia 'hosted' three or more motor vehicles. This may reflect (in part) the limited garaging space within some apartment complexes. The following SA2 regions had 300 or more apartments hosting three or more motor vehicles: Double Bay-Bellevue Hill (327 apartments); Surfers Paradise (320); Cronulla-Kurnell-Bundeena (313); Wollongong East (308); and Coogee-Clovelly (300).


EXPLANATORY INFORMATION

1 All data are presented on a Place of Enumeration basis.

2 The dwellings data in this article pertain to occupied private dwellings only. Unoccupied, vacant or non-private dwellings are excluded from the statistics.

3 Flats and units are included in the concept of apartments used in this article. These dwellings do not have their own private grounds and usually share a common entrance foyer or stairwell. They can range from one storey to multi storey dwelling structures. Flats attached to houses are also counted as apartments.

4 Townhouses, as well as semi-detached row/terrace houses and separate houses, are regarded as distinct dwelling structures and excluded from the apartment concept. More details are available in the 2016 Census Dictionary.

5 Caution is needed when comparing dwelling structure information. Changes to Census classification methods between 2011 and 2016 may have affected data comparability.