What the Census 2016 data means for property buyers

The Census 2016 data was released this morning by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and contains some very important information about the makeup of Australia’s population and households and how this has changed since the last Census in 2011.

We take a closer look at some of the main Census 2016 highlights that relate to the property market and determine what this means for property buyers and investors.


According to the Census 2016 data, Australia is now home to 24.4 million people as at 31 December 2017. Although Sydney is home to the country’s largest population centre (4.8 million residents), Melbourne is quickly catching up with 4.4 million residents – an increase of 12 per cent since 2011.  However, Melbourne is expected to overtake Sydney as the most populous city in Australia and is expected to be one of the largest Australian states by mid-century.

Melbourne’s rapidly growing population

This rapidly growing population might be influenced by the fact that Melbourne has been recognised as the world’s most liveable city for six years in a row by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Survey and is home to some of the country’s best universities, hospitals as well as a strong economy. With more land available compared to Sydney which is restricted by the Blue Mountains and the harbour, Melbourne still has pockets of untapped land which it can utilise to house its future population.

With this in mind, Melbourne will be growing by an average of 2,000 new residents, who will be moving here every week, approximately 100,000 new residents a year. There is therefore a real need for new dwelling construction to house this fast-growing population, whilst ensure Melbourne remains a highly liveable city with its green areas and flourishing neighbourhoods with casual cafes, hip bars and exciting new restaurants.

NSW most populous state

NSW remains the most populous state with 7,480,228 people counted, compared to Victoria’s 5,926,624 and 4,703,193 people in Queensland. The Greater Sydney region is Australia’s largest population centre with 4,823,991 people, which has been growing at 1,656 people every week since the 2011 Census.

As Sydney starts to become too expensive to live, more and more people are being forced to move further out of the city and find more affordable suburbs to live in, whether that’s out west past Parramatta, down south or up north towards the Central Coast. There is also interstate migration with more people leaving NSW.

Foreign migrants

Since 2011, 1.3 million new migrants have also come to Australia to live, with China (191,000) and India (163,000) the most common country of birth for new arrivals. However, out of all Australian residents, 26 per cent were born overseas, with England the most common country of birth.

Ageing population

As well as a growing population, we are also an ageing one, with the median age increasing from 37 to 38 years old for the past decade. People aged 65 years and over make up 16 per cent of the population (compared to 14 per cent in 2011), whilst those aged 85 years and over equate to half a million. This is mainly down to falling birth rates and a rising life expectancy.

With Australia’s population ageing, we also need to consider how we will house this population and understand that there is likely going to be more downsizers in the years to come with a focus on single and couple households.

We also need to consider that there will be a smaller labour force with less people paying taxes and higher healthcare and aged care costs. With people living longer, it is also important that we consider our own retirement plans and ensure we have enough funds and assets available to ensure we can live a comfortable retirement. If you have yet to secure a plan for your retirement savings, it’s best to speak to one of our iBuyNew Property Consultants.

Tighter household budgets

The Census 2016 data also revealed that Australians are now living on tighter budgets, due to rising rents and mortgages, alongside stagnant wage growth, which is widening the affordability gap.

The median personal income of Australians has grown to $662 a week across Australia, (up from $577 in 2011), $664 in NSW and $644 in Victoria. However, the ACT is the wealthiest of all the states with a median of $998 dollars per week.

Unsurprisingly, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth have the greatest proportion of homes spending over 30 per cent of their income on a mortgage. In Sydney, 22 per cent of households are spending more than a third of their monthly income on rent. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why Sydneysiders are finding it so difficult to get a foothold on the property ladder, especially first home buyers who simply are finding it impossible to save up a deposit to meet the median dwelling price which sits at $872,300 at 31 May 2017 (CoreLogic).

The number of renters in NSW since the 2011 Census has also increased from 30.1 to 31.8 per cent, likely due to the expensive property prices in Sydney and the inability to purchase a home to live in. Victoria has also seen an increase in the number of its rental tenants from 26.5 per cent in 2011 to 28.7 per cent in 2016.

Home ownership

The 2016 Census reveals that more home owners own a home with a mortgage (34.5 per cent) than they do outright (31 per cent). This differs greatly from 25 years ago, where 41.1 per cent of owned homes were owned outright, whilst 27.5 per cent had a mortgage and 26.9 per cent rented.

Household structure

Since 2011, the household structure has also changed and there were 6.1 million families in Australia. The household structure is now made up of the following:
  • 44.7 per cent couple households with children – a fall of 10 per cent over 25 years
  • 37.8 per cent of couple households had no children
  • Single parent families continue to rise, to 15.8 per cent last year
  • 81.8 per cent of single parents were women and 18.2 per cent were men
  • The number of single-sex couples rose 39 per cent between 2011 and 2016 to 46,800
  • Approximately 2 million people lived on their own
With the population in Australia rising, particularly in Melbourne which is expected to become the most populous capital city by mid-century, along with people living longer, and household structures changing, it’s becoming crucially important that we secure our own financial futures to ensure we too can save up enough money to lead a comfortable retirement.

Get in touch

To find out more about the Census 2016 results and how it affects you as a property buyer or investor, it’s best to talk to one of our Property Consultants at iBuyNew. Call us today on 1300 123 463 and discover what tactics you can explore to own your own home or investment property sooner.
Published on 27th of June 2017 by Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich


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