Eleanor Rigby

Ah, look at all the lonely people!

This week I want to look at Australian household types.

I get a bit sick of hearing that a quarter of Australian’s live alone.

This isn’t true, one in ten Aussie’s live alone.

The quarter statistic comes from the Census and measures that number of occupied dwellings on census night that housed one usually resident person.

So, a quarter of our occupied dwellings typically hold just one person, but 90% of us live with someone else.

Semantics?  Maybe?  But let’s get this stuff right from the get-go.

This post holds five tables.

Table 1 outlines the number of occupied dwellings by household type.  This table shows that 26% (well 25.6%) of Australian occupied dwellings held just one resident in mid-August last year.  This proportion was 25.0% in 2016.

Table 2 shows that the size of the lone person households accounted for 34% of the overall increase in the occupied dwellings over the past five years.

Table 3 outlines the number of people per household type in 2016 and in 2021.  It shows that just 10% of Australians live alone.

Table 4 shows that the size of the number of people living alone accounted for just 15% of the overall increase in size of the Australian population between 2016 and 2021.

And finally, table 5, outlines some key housing demographics by household type.  This table outlines the average number of people typically resident by household type as well.

Some thoughts

There has been some conjecture regarding the reduction in household size to 2.5 people on average per occupied dwelling in the latest census results.

Several have been saying that the increase in lone person households – up 347,200 or 69,440 per annum – over the past five years has resulted in the decline in average Australian household size.  This is probably true.

Yet the average household size was 2.57 in 2016 and is currently estimated to be 2.54.  So not that big of a change.

In addition, some are saying that a big reason for the decline in rental vacancies is due to more renters opting to live alone.

Table 5 shows that 39% of lone person households rent.  This suggests that there has been a potentialincrease of about 135,000 lone person rental households over the past five years.  This equates to an 27,000 increase per annum.

This might also be plausible especially when factoring in Covid’s potential impact – many choosing to self-isolate – and the fact that there were 75,000 rental vacancies in August 2016 versus about 37,000 in August last year.

We will know more when the next stage of the 2021 census is released later this month.

But for mine the big reason for the decline in available rental properties is that not enough new investment property has been built across the country over recent years.  It also doesn’t help when investors choose to lock-up their digs rather than rent them out.

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?


Eleanor Rigby is the only Beatles song where none of the Beatles play an instrument. They only sing as a string ensemble plays on. There was also some debate between John Lennon and Paul McCartney as to who wrote most of the song, but the song tends to follow more of Paul’s storytelling style.

Eerily enough, the name Eleanor Rigby was found on a gravestone at the St. Peter’s Parish Church where John and Paul met as teenagers. Yet in a 2018 interview, McCartney said that he hadn’t known of that person or the gravestone when he wrote the song.


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