facebookAlmost as many Australians now rent as those who own their property outright, data from census 2016 shows.twitter

pinterestlinkedin In the 2011 census, 29.6 per cent of the country’s population rented, compared to 28.1 per cent in 2006.

However, the latest data release from the ABS indicates 30.9 per cent of the population rents, while 31 per cent own outright. A further 34.5 per cent own a home with a mortgage.

“However, the proportion renting is slowly growing, while those who have the good fortune of owning their home outright are declining”, the Census release says.

Census 2016 | More Aussies now renting, but paying extra
Flying over the suburbs of Melbourne

How we live today

Australia still remains firmly attached to the ‘Great Australian dream’ of living in a detached house – separate houses still account for most homes (72 per cent) in Australia.

Flats and apartments account for 13.1 per cent of dwellings counted on census night, followed by semi-detached, row or terrace, townhouse (12.7 per cent).

It doesn’t end there though – people are increasingly likely to call a caravan, cabin, houseboat or tent a home.

The ABS defines a dwelling as “any structure which is intended to have people in it, and is habitable on census night.”

For the purpose of the national survey, these dwellings came close to 10 million on census night 2016, of which 8.3 million were “occupied private dwellings,” compared to 7.8 million five years ago.

Census 2016 | More Aussies now renting, but paying extra
Photo: ABS.

Of the 8.3 million occupied private dwellings, seven in 10 housed families (69% by one family and 1.9% by multiple families), one in four were one-person households, and one in 25 were group households.

Census 2016 | More Aussies now renting, but paying extra
Photo: ABS.

41.1 per cent of Australians are in private dwellings with 3 bedrooms, down from 43.6 per cent in the 2011 census. Just 18.9 per cent live in a 2-bedroom property and only 5 per cent in a 1 bedroom. 32.2 per cent live in a property with 4+ bedrooms.

Home ownership rates plunge

The big shift has been towards renting: Nearly 31 per cent of Australians now pay a landlord – an upward shift from 29.6 in 2006 and just under 27 per cent in 1991.

With 44.4 per cent of its residents living as tenants, Darwin is Australia’s rental capital. Sydney and Brisbane also have a high proportion of tenants.

“The proportion renting is slowly growing, while those who have the good fortune of owning their home outright are declining,” the Census release says.

31 per cent of Australians own their home outright, having recently paid off a mortgage. The highest number of Australians who own their home outright live in Hobart (32.9 per cent), while the 41.9 per cent of Perth residents own their home jointly with the bank.

Housing tenure by city

Census 2016 | More Aussies now renting, but paying extra
Data source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census 2016.

Money, money, money

Our median personal incomes are rising, reveals census 2016. The national weekly median was $662 for people aged 15 years or over – up from $557 in 2011.

The Australian Capital Territory had the highest median personal income ($998 per week) and Tasmania was some way behind with the lowest ($573).

The national picture rounds out with the Northern Territory ($871), Western Australia ($724), New South Wales ($664), Victoria ($644), Queensland ($660) and South Australia ($600).

The median household rent has jumped substantially to $335 a week, up $50 from $285 in 2011.

The largest percentage of tenants in Greater Sydney are paying between $350-$449/week in rent, with 22.03 per cent of people in this bracket. The same could be said for Greater Melbourne (27.27 per cent) Greater Brisbane (33.09 per cent) and Greater Perth (32.79 per cent). In Greater Adelaide, tenants are most likely (27.81 per cent) to fall into the $275-349/week bracket.

What we’re paying in rent

Census 2016 | More Aussies now renting, but paying extra
Data source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census 2016.

Anyone there?

Census 2016 revealed 11.2 of dwellings – around 1.04 million homes – were unoccupied on census night – an increase of 10.7 per cent on 2011.

It’s worth noting that many of these homes are holiday homes, temporarily vacant while occupants are travelling or under renovation.

The data asserts that Darwin is currently oversupplied, with 11.4 per cent of homes in the city sitting empty on census night, versus just 7.7 per cent in Sydney.

Perth‘s vacancy rate remained high at 11 per cent on the night, the second highest of all cities.

Percentage of vacant homes

Census 2016 | More Aussies now renting, but paying extra
Data source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census 2016. Note: This data includes holiday homes and temporarily unoccupied dwellings.

We are family

There wasn’t a huge change in family composition from 2011 to 2016. The 2016 Census counted more than six million families in Australia – an increase from five million in 2011.

Of these families, about 45% were couples with children; 38% were couples without children; and 16% were single parent families.

Almost one in four Australians (24%) now live in single person households.

These solo renters are most likely to live in a separate house in Greater Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, while single person households account for the highest percentage of people in flats and apartments in Greater Sydney.


  1. I live in house that I rent at $500 a week, it’s not worth it. The owner has never fixed anything in the house in the 9 years we have been there. In the first year rent went up twice. The owner never tells us anything about who may be coming and even once had some one come out and assess the yard for a granny flat, did not tell us about it.

    Tasmania has a buy programme for DOH residents why doesn’t NSW? Have to get out of where we live and live somewhere else better.

  2. Show me anywhere that you can find a 2bedroom rental in and around any city for less than $420 . If you do there might be holes in the floor or toilet outside… Ridiculous! Only way to go is share housing and that’s not always the best option for a quiet lifestyle or if you are a pet owner.

  3. As you.are probably aware, the landlord is breaking the law.
    However I imagine that you have sought alternative accommodation options and been unable to find anything suitable.
    Your difficult story is all too common throughout Australia at the moment.
    Landlords have the upper hand given the pressure for rental properties Australia wide.
    Good luck in your search for somewhere else to live.

  4. It’s a shame. I rent rooms in my house and my tenants are so happy that I look after them well, so many repairs and improvements and don’t charge extra rents because of it. Most Landlords I know take advantage of the housing crisis, charge higher rents and never fix anything. That is what I call taking advantage of the climate to abuse. Then on the other hand, I have had tenants so ungrateful for being looked after well with cheap rent, stable accommodation. They take advantage of the Landlord, manipulate the law in their favour, trash the house, steal belongings and treat you with contempt because they have this great sense of entitlement like the world owes them a living or owes them free rent for them to become squatters in. Whichever way you look at it, there are good and bad on both fronts.

  5. Be interesting how things turn out when the banks pass on the $6 Billion in taxes to home owners and the interest rates go up. People who have over-extended themselves on mortgages are going to be in trouble. If the changes go ahead with the negative gearing tax laws then landlords are going to have to bow down to renters. The renters will have the upper hand. Renters have a long memory and wont forget how landlords have treated them with contempt.

  6. Rents are on the increase in the traditionally low cost city of Adelaide and combined with our outrageous electricity prices and high unemployment particularly for older highly qualified women over 50 like myself this equals housing stress. I can’t get a mortgage as I don’t meet the lending criteria. Moving to the eastern states where the jobs are is an expensive option plus rents are more there especially if you are have pets and cannot share housing. The state government should be doing more about housing affordability instead of making the building industry a priority. There is a lot that could be done potentially to help – such as rent to buy schemes. Why abolish the first home owner’s grant for established properties?