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Housing Mobility and Conditions

Presents data from the Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) on Australian housing mobility and dwelling conditions

Reference period
2019-20 financial year

Key statistics

In 2019–20:

  • More than 40% of Australian households reported moving within the last five years.
  • 11% of households reported major structural problems in their current dwelling.
  • 86% of home-owners and 76% of renters were satisfied with their current dwelling.
  • Solar power use increased from 5% in 2007–08 to 22%.

Main features

This publication presents statistics compiled from the Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) on Australian housing mobility and dwelling conditions. The latest data were collected in 2019–20 SIH as well as the 2007–08 and 2013–14 SIH collections.

Housing mobility is one element used to capture underlying population change and has implications for employment, local culture and urban development. Different mobility patterns are found for renters and owners, for households at different stages of family life or age, as well as for other characteristics such as household income.

Housing conditions are reported on any major structural problems in the current dwelling and any repairs and maintenance carried out in the last 12 months.

This publication presents data for selected housing topics including:

  • length of time in dwelling;
  • number of times moved in last five years;
  • reasons for moving; and
  • characteristics of the previous dwelling occupied.

It also includes aspects of the dwelling occupied by respondents such as:

  • any major structural problems;
  • repairs and maintenance carried out in the past 12 months; and
  • sources of energy and water.

For first home buyers, data on home deposits paid and any monetary assistance received for the purchase were collected.

The SIH also collects additional housing information which is released in a separate publication Housing Occupancy and Costs, Australia.

Housing mobility

In 2019–20, 1.14 million households (12% of all households) moved at least once in the previous 12 months.

As shown in Graph 1, housing mobility is strongly related to the age of the household reference person.

  • Over half (52%) of households with a reference person aged 15 to 24 years, had spent less than 1 year in their current dwelling.
  • 26% of 25 to 34 year old reference persons had spent less than 1 year in their current dwelling.
  • 46% of households with a reference person aged 15 to 24 years had spent 1 to less than 5 years in their current dwelling.
  • 58% of household reference persons aged 25 to 34 years had been in their current dwelling 1 to less than 5 years.
  • Households with a household reference person aged 65 years and over moved home less frequently with 3% of these households having spent less than 1 year in their current dwelling and 15% having spent 1 to less than 5 years.
  1. The proportion of reference persons aged 15–24 years who have been in their current dwelling for 5 years or more has a high margin of error and should be used with caution

Frequency of moves

As shown in Graph 2, households with a younger household reference person reported moving more frequently than other households. Some 46% of households with a reference person aged 15 to 24 years had moved three or more times in the previous 5 years.

Mobility and tenure

Renters moved more frequently than home owners. As shown in Graph 3, just under a third (29%) of private renter households had spent less than 1 year in their current dwelling and 52% had spent less than 5 years. Home owners moved less frequently, with 5% reporting less than 1 year in their current dwelling and 23% less than 5 years.

In comparison, 28% of home owner households and 25% of households renting from a state or territory housing authority reported living in their current dwelling for 20 years or more.

  1. Includes owner without a mortgage and owner with a mortgage
  2. Includes other landlord and tenure type

Locality of move

Of those households who had moved within the last 5 years:

  • almost two thirds (65%) moved within the same state or territory (but outside the same suburb or locality);
  • 25% of moves were within the same suburb or locality;
  • 7% of households moved from a different state or territory; and
  • 3% moved from overseas to Australia.

Reasons for moving

Of all households who had moved within the last 5 years:

  • 12% reported the main reasons for moving were wanting a bigger or better home (down from 17% in 2013–14); and
  • 20% reported the main reason was to purchase their own dwelling (up from 16% in 2013–14). 

The main reasons for moving also varied by household characteristics.

  • For households with a reference person aged 65 years or over, the main reasons for moving were downsizing (22%) and to be close to family and friends (13%).
  • For households with a reference person aged 35 to 44 years, purchasing a home (22%) and wanting a bigger or better home (17%) were key reasons for moving.
  • For households with a young reference person aged 15 to 24 years, the reasons for moving included to form their own family or be independent (14%) and 13% of moves were for education reasons. These households were also much more frequent movers. 
  • For households renting from a state or territory housing authority, the highest reported reason for moving was due to housing allocation (37%).
Table 1 - Recent movers by main reason for last move by age of reference person (a), 2019–20
Age of reference personMain reason for last move%
15 to 24 yearsFamily reasons (b)28.7
 Accessibility14.2
 Employment (c)10.3
 Lease terminated or not renewed by landlord9.3
25 to 34 yearsPurchase own dwelling24.7
 Family reasons (b)21.4
 Wanted bigger or better home12.3
 Employment (c)9.5
35 to 64 yearsPurchase own dwelling21.0
 Family reasons (b)15.4
 Wanted bigger or better home14.4
65 and overFamily reasons (b)22.8
 Wanted smaller home or to downsize22.2
 Lifestyle change8.3
  1. Households in which the reference person changed their place of usual residence in the last 5 years
  2. Includes moved with family, to form own family or be independent, change in household or family size, and be close to or live with family/friends
  3. Includes closer to work, lost job, got job, improve employment prospects and job transfer 
  4. Includes to be near medical services and to be near education facilities

Barriers to moving for those who wanted to move

In 2019–20, 8% of households reported that they would like to move house but were unlikely to move in the next 12 months. The main reason reported for not moving was that:

  • they could not afford to buy a new dwelling (61%);
  • they could not afford the expenses associated with moving (25%); and
  • the move would be too much effort (22%).

Condition of dwelling

Major structural problems

In 2019–20, most Australian dwellings were reported to be in good condition with 89% of households reporting no major structural problems, an increase from 85% reported in 2013–14. 

For households that reported structural problems: 

  • cracks in walls or floors were the most often reported with 4% of all households, a slight decrease from the 6% reported in 2013–14;
  • 3% of households reported sinking or moving foundations;
  • walls or windows being out of plumb affected 2% of households, compared to 3% in 2013–14; and
  • 2% of households reporting major plumbing problems.

As shown in Graph 1, the condition of dwellings varied across tenure and landlord types with major structural problems of all kinds being most frequently reported by renters from state and territory housing authorities (22%) and private landlords (17%). In comparison, 9% of home owners reported a major structural problem.

  1. Includes owner without a mortgage and owner with a mortgage
  2. Includes other landlord and tenure type

Repairs and maintenance

In 2019–20, 47% of households reported that repairs or maintenance had been carried out on their current dwelling within the last twelve months, down from 55% in 2013–14. The most commonly reported types of repair or maintenance were:

  • plumbing 25% of households (down from 29% in 2013–14);
  • painting 19% of households (down from 25% in 2013–14);  
  • electrical work 16% of households (down from 19% in 2013–14); and
  • roof repair and maintenance 10% of households (down from 13% in 2013–14).

Graph 3 below shows that owners with a mortgage were the most likely to report repairs or maintenance (50%), while owners without a mortgage were the least likely (44%).

  1. Includes other landlord and tenure types

Satisfaction with dwelling

In 2019–20 Australians reported high levels of satisfaction with their current dwelling, with 83% reporting being either satisfied or very satisfied. Other key results relating to satisfaction include:

  • The highest levels of satisfaction were amongst owners without a mortgage (89%).
  • The lowest levels of satisfaction were among renters from state or territory housing authorities (72%). 
  • 75% of households with a reference person aged 15 to 24 years were satisfied or very satisfied with their current dwelling.
  • 94% of households with a reference person aged 75 and over reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their current dwelling.
  • 4% of households were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. 
  1. Includes other tenure and landlord type

For households that reported being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their current dwelling, their reasons for dissatisfaction were categorised into three main areas:

  • location of their current dwelling;
  • dissatisfaction with the block; and
  • dissatisfaction with the current dwelling.

Respondents were able to select more than one reason for being dissatisfied.

Dissatisfaction with location

Key reported reasons why households were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the location of their current dwelling included:

  • 49% of renters reported security/feeling safe was the reason for their dissatisfaction, compared with 32% of owners;
  • 44% of households who were dissatisfied with their social environment and neighbours; and
  • 43% reported an issue with the distance from services and facilities.

Dissatisfaction with the block

Key reported reasons why households were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the block included:

  • 44% of households reported that their block was too small;
  • 22% of households reported that their block was too steep; and
  • 21% of households reported that the maintenance of their garden was too high.

Dissatisfaction with the dwelling

Key reported reasons why households were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the current dwelling included:

  • poor condition of the dwelling was the reason for dissatisfaction in almost half of all households (49%);
  • 42% reported that their current dwelling was too big or too small; and
  • 30% reported the design or layout of dwelling being the reason.

First home buyer households - financing arrangements

In 2019–20 on average, the size of the deposit paid by first home buyers across Australia was $90,000 of which:

  • the highest deposits were paid by New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory residents, $109,000 and $108,000 on average respectively.
  • the smallest deposits were paid by the Northern Territory and Tasmania residents, $48,000 and $44,000 on average respectively.

The mean value of dwellings purchased by first home buyers across Australia was $583,000 of which:

  • the highest mean value was $703,000 in New South Wales followed by $628,000 in Victoria.
  • the lowest mean value was $336,000 in Tasmania. 

Nationwide first home buyers owe $383,000 on average towards their mortgage, with first home buyers in New South Wales owing the most, $473,000. First home buyers in Tasmania have the least owing on their mortgage, averaging $201,000.

a. The mean deposit in WA has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use

Lease and rent arrangements

In 2019–20, almost two thirds (65%) of private renters had a fixed period lease of 6 or 12 months and a further 19% had either a month-by-month or other fixed period lease arrangement. For all renters, six month leases were most common in the Northern Territory (18%) and Queensland (17%), while month-by-month leases were most common in Victoria (22%), followed by New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (both 18%).

More than one in two renters from state or territory housing authorities had an indefinite tenure arrangement (53%), while one in five (20%) reported a fixed period lease.

  1. Includes 6 month lease, 12 month lease, month-by-month and other fixed period lease
  2. Includes other landlord type

Household sources of energy and water

Sources of energy

In 2019–20, data was collected around all sources of energy use within the current dwelling. Key findings included:

  • nearly all Australian households used mains electricity, with just under 100% of households connected (excluding very remote areas of Australia);
  • solar energy use significantly increased from 5% in 2007–08 to 22% in 2019–20;
  • the use of LPG or bottled gas and wood use saw a marginal decrease, falling to 14% and 9% respectively in 2019–20, compared to 17% and 12% respectively in 2007–08;
  • Victoria (79%), Western Australia (71%) and the Australian Capital Territory (69%) had the highest proportion of mains gas users in Australia; and
  • the Northern Territory had the highest proportion using solar energy (38%) and Tasmania had the highest proportion using wood (28%).

Use of solar power

The proportion of Australian households using solar power as a source of energy, either solar electricity or solar hot water, increased significantly from 5% in 2007–08 to 22% in 2019–20. This coincides with Federal, State and Local Government incentives to increase the installation of small scale renewable energy systems such as solar electricity and solar hot water systems. These systems may be used in conjunction with other sources of energy such as mains electricity. Since 2007–08, households in all states and territories have increased their use of solar power as a source of energy.

Sources of water

Mains or town water is the most common source of water for Australian households. In 2019–20, 94% of Australian households reported sourcing water from the mains or town water supplies. Households also used: rainwater tanks (19%); grey water (2%); purchased bottled drinking water (6%); and water from bores or wells (3%).

Sources of water varied significantly between the states and territories. While South Australia and Queensland had the largest proportion of households that reported a rainwater tank as a source of water (32% and 25% respectively), Western Australia and the Northern Territory also remained the largest proportion of households that reported a bore or well as a source of water (10% and 5% respectively).

Data downloads

Data files

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4130.0.55.002