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ABS reveals more people living in apartments than 25 years ago

More Australians than ever are taking up apartment living, whether out of preference, convenience, or affordability reasons.

The 2016 Census of Population and Housing found that 10 per cent 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.

Over the past 25 years, the number of occupied apartments (including flats and units, excluding townhouses) in Australia has increased by 78 per cent to 1,214,372 dwellings at the 2016 Census.

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.

Census results show that 38 per cent of all occupied apartments are within four or more storey blocks.

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

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

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

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.

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

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 per cent compared with 49 per cent) – mirroring the proportions observed for the overall population at the 2016 Census.

In 2016, one in five (21 per cent) of all people aged 25-34 years (and living in private dwellings) were apartment residents. Nearly one in eight (12 per cent) 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 per cent) of Australia’s youth population (aged 15-24 years) resided in apartments. Similarly, nearly one in ten (9 per cent) of all children aged 0-4 years had an apartment home.

In 2016, 85 per cent of Australia’s apartment dwellers (excluding visitors) lived in capital city regions, with other concentrations mostly found along the eastern coast.

ABS: Stories from the Census 2016
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Azal Khan

Azal Khan was a in-house features writer for Elite Agent Magazine.