Every stat tells a story.

2021 Census count includes Australians living on wheels and water, but most of us still firmly on land

Media Release

If our home is our castle, today the Australian Bureau of Statistics in launching the 2021 Census data provides new insights on the different types of homes and ‘castles’ we live in around Australia.

There were nearly 11 million (10,852,208) private dwellings counted in the 2021 Census, an increase of nearly one million (950,712) since 2016. These dwellings were comprised of separate houses (70 per cent), apartments (16 per cent) and town houses (13 per cent). 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 2021 Census separately identified high rises (nine or more storeys) for the first time and found that over half a million people (550,592) live in Australia’s 370,000 (368,943) high rise apartments. Over 2.5 million people (2,620,903) or 10.3 per cent of us now live in apartments.

Not all dwellings were occupied on Census night (such as vacant holiday homes or vacant investment properties), with the 2021 Census finding more than one million (1,043,776) unoccupied dwellings.

Many alternative dwellings were also counted on Census night, including caravans (58,155), cabins and houseboats (29,369).

Two thirds of households (66.0 per cent) own their home outright or with a mortgage, very similar to Censuses back to 1996 (67.8 per cent). However, the proportion of households that own outright has dropped from 40 per cent in 1996 (41.6 per cent) to 30 per cent in 2021 (31.0 per cent).

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). 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).

When travelling to and from our homes, we are a nation of drivers. 91 per cent of households (91.3 per cent) reported having at least one vehicle and more than half (55.1 per cent) reported having two or more vehicles.

Dr David Gruen AO, Australian Statistician, said “The Census provides a unique snapshot of where people slept on Census night. During the Census, we reached people staying in hotels, those travelling on Census night, and even Australians working offshore. 

The information collected about how people live and what type of home they live in will help inform community planning for new housing and support existing living arrangements within the community”.

For further information, tune into the 2021 Census data release launch on 28 June at 10am AEST at http://www.abs.gov.au/census/events or explore the data at www.abs.gov.au/census/find-census-data.

Media notes

  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team on media@abs.gov.au or 1300 175 070.
  • Further information on 2021 Census is available in the Census media backgrounders.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
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