A snapshot of the nation's homes: 2011 census data

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The release of data from the 2011 Census provides insights into Australia's current demographic profile. In Australia, the Census is conducted every five years and comes under the responsibilities of the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Last year the Census was held on the 9th August and the questionnaire collected information on every person who "spent Census night in Australia, with the exception of foreign diplomats and their families"i.

Information collected includes age, religion, income, where we live and how much we owe in mortgage debt. By comparing data with that collected from previous years, we can track how we are changing as a nation.

2011 census data shows that the percentage Australian households with mortgages has increased since 2006.

Comparing Census stats from the 8th August 2006ii and 9th August 2011iii, we take a look at some of the recent changes in housing in Australia, including changes to housing tenure, dwelling structures, mortgage repayment and rent price trends.

So, what's changed in five years?

We spend more on housing

Census data on housing tenure shows us that Australians are paying more for the roof over their heads.

Households with mortgages spent a monthly median of $1,300 on repayments in 2006, with this figure increasing to $1,800 per month in 2011: an increase of 38.5% in the five year period. Similarly, the number of households with a mortgage has increased by 11.2% in that same time.

In 2006 Australia, households that paid rent forked out $190 in median weekly rent; in 2011, this had increased by 50% to $285. Between 2006 and 2011 the number of households renting had increased by 14.3%.

But there are big differences between States/Territories when it comes to housing costs. In 2011 New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia were ranked equal first as the states with the highest median weekly rent, with households paying $300 per week. Western Australia residents experienced the biggest increase in median weekly rent payments with an increase of 76%. NSW had the lowest increase (43%). Table 1 outlines the increase in median weekly rent payments for all States and Territories from 2006 to 2011.

Table 1: Census data by State/ Territory: median weekly rent payments in 2011 and 2006iv.
State 2006 - Median weekly rent 2006 - Median weekly rent % increase from '06 - '11
NSW $210 $300 43
QLD $200 $300 50
WA $170 $300 76
VIC $185 $277 50
NT $140 $225 61
SA $150 $220 47
TAS $135 $200 48

In 2011, the Northern Territory was the state with the highest median monthly mortgage repayment - households were paying more than $2000 a month. New South Wales followed closely behind, with median mortgage repayments at $1,993 per month. Tasmanians are paying the least in repayments, forking out only $1,300 per month. WA had the biggest rise in repayments in 5 years, paying 61% more than they did five years ago. Table 2 details the median monthly mortgage repayments by State/ Territory and the percentage increases from 2006 to 2011.

Table 2: Census data by State/ Territory: median weekly rent payments in 2011 and 2006iv.
State 2006 - Median monthly mortgage repayments 2011 - monthly mortgage repayments % increase from '06 - '11
NT $1,300 $2,058 58
NSW $1,517 $1,993 31
WA $1,213 $1,950 61
QLD $1,300 $1,850 42
VIC $1,252 $1,700 36
SA $1,018 $1,500 47
TAS $867 $1,300 50

What sort of housing structures do we prefer to live in?

The Census also revealed that more and more of us are living in higher density housing structures such as townhouses, flats, units and apartments. Of all the occupied private dwellings, the number of semi-detached, row or terrace house and townhouse dwelling structures saw the highest increase, rising by 16.3% (107,120) between 2006 and 2011 - more than twice the rate of the rise of separate house dwelling structures. This was followed by high density housing structures such as flats, units and apartments, with an increase of 13.2% (123,374) from 2006 to 2011.

And while the number of people living in separate dwellings has only increased by 7.2% (392,046) in five years, this type of dwelling is home to the majority of the population: a whopping 75.6% of Australians reside in a stand-alone (detached) houseiv.

More Australians are opting to live in higher density housing structures, such as townhouses, flats, units and apartments.

According to Census data, income earners in Australia are receiving more money on a weekly basis in 2011 compared to 2006, with the median weekly income per household at $1,234 up from $1,025iv. However, the stats also reveal that in 2011 fewer people own a property outright than in 2006iv, and we are now spending more on housing overall (as shown by increased median rent weekly payments and mortgage monthly repayments since 2006).

Home insurance

By taking out home insurance, you can have peace of mind that your finances will be secured in the event that something happens to your home. Home insurance ensures that your home and/ or contents are protected from loss or damage caused by one or more of the insured events, including fire or smoke, storm, theft, rainwater or run-off^. Visit the Allianz website today for a quote in just 2 minutes.

^ Refer to the relevant Allianz SureCover Home Insurance PDS for more information.

i ABS, 2012, 2940.0 - Census of Population and Housing - Details of Undercount 2011, http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2940.0Explanatory%20Notes12011?OpenDocument

i ABS, 2006, 2006 Census: About the Census, http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/d3310114.nsf/51c9a3d36edfd0dfca256acb00118404/b9504d79bc140d7eca25715e0027d788!OpenDocument

iii ABS, 2010, 2011 Census News Release: Where will you be on 9 August 2011, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mediareleasesbyReleaseDate/C61C5286CB19637CCA2578330013B0F7?OpenDocument

iv ABS, 2012, 2011 Census QuickStats: Dwellings, http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2011/quickstat/0?opendocument&navpos=220