Home Insights Australia has millions of spare rooms. There’s a lot we could do with them

Australia has millions of spare rooms. There’s a lot we could do with them

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Australia has a lot of spare bedrooms, now more than five years ago, but not using them is a missed opportunity to provide affordable housing.

But who has them all and why? And how can we use them better?

Most homes have a spare bedroom

Australian homes are large by world standards and you can see that in the fact that most households have extra space.

More than 70% of Australian households have at least one spare bedroom, according to the 2021 Census. [1] Also, more than 1 in 10 households have 3 or more spare bedrooms.

it represents at least Only 1 in 10 households has 3.5 million spare bedrooms nationwide.

A huge number of spare rooms affects the affordability of housing.Photo: Getty


To put it another way, Australia has over 28 million bedrooms. This is slightly more than one bedroom per person.

And all this without considering the bedroom empty housemake up less than one-tenth of all Australian homes. [2]

In contrast, about 7% of households have fewer bedrooms than beds.

This does not necessarily mean that the household is overcrowded. For example, many of these households have young children who share a bedroom. [3]

Older homeowners are more likely to have many spare rooms

So who has all these spare bedrooms? Simply put, it is a household where no children live together.

Households consisting of childless couples and single-person households many More than likely you will have two or more spare bedrooms. This covers both childless households and households with children who have moved.

In contrast, few group households have more than two spare bedrooms. Given that more than two-thirds of these are rental sharehouses, it’s no surprise.

Many of these households with two or more spare bedrooms are probably old “empty nest” households. Unfortunately, the Australian Bureau of Statistics does not make household age estimates available for the Census. [4]

However, we can see some approximations of household age.

First, we know that these childless households are skewed towards the elderly. More than 60% of her, both childless singles and married couples, are over the age of 55.

Second, households that own their home outright are much more likely to have two or more spare bedrooms. Not everyone who owns a home outright has a senior household, but many will. Paying off a mortgage takes time. [5]

Not surprisingly, very few rental households have more than two spare bedrooms. However, many rental households have one spare bedroom. In fact, over half of rental homes have at least one spare bedroom.

Third, household income also suggests a trend in the same direction. Having two or more spare bedrooms is more common. low This is consistent with retired or partially retired households. [6]

Having two or more empty rooms has become common in the last five years

Between the 2016 and 2021 Censuses, the percentage of households with two or more spare bedrooms increased from 38.8% to 40.4%.It may not sound like a big change, but it’s more than 200,000 households, or at least 400,000 newly spare bedrooms.

Nor is this a geographically isolated change. Across almost all parts of the country, the percentage of households with two or more spare bedrooms is increasing.

Of course, in the last five years, no residence has voluntarily added additional bedrooms.

The reason why there are more spare bedrooms today is because Fewer householdsCompared to 2016, there are now more one-person households and fewer three-person households.

Could these spare bedrooms be used more efficiently?

Some of these spare bedrooms exist because people want them.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen households place more emphasis on space in their homes.it appears in Price of house above unit, and the price of a big house is better than a small one.Appeared in rent too.

But not all of these spare bedrooms are to my liking.

Older households are more likely to have a lot of extra space.I find it hard to believe that there is an age bias Overall up to your taste. It is unlikely that only older households need the extra space and younger ones do not.

Instead, some “empty nest” households probably don’t need as much space as they have. However, downsizing is unattractive due to various barriers and costs associated with downsizing, so they keep it.

The big barrier here is the stamp duty, which adds tens of thousands of dollars or more to the cost of shrinking.

And young Australians looking to enter the housing market will ultimately pay the price for underutilized bedrooms.

Reforming the stamp tax to make shrinking more attractive will help young households, freeing up some of these homes with ample spare bedrooms for larger, younger households who need the space. Improve housing affordability by


[1] Categorize spare bedrooms using 2021 Census data: number of regular residents, household composition, and number of bedrooms. For purposes of calculating spare bedrooms, we assume one her bedroom per person, except in matrimonial households where we assume that a married couple shares a bedroom. For example, a two-person household with no children in a two-bedroom home would be classified as having one spare bedroom.

[2] The Census only collects data on the number of bedrooms in dwellings occupied.

[3] A better measure is Canadian National Occupancy Standards, take into account the ages of dependent children when determining whether a dwelling is overcrowded. Unfortunately, the ages of dependent children are collected by the Census, but those data are not published, so we could not use them here.

[4] Age data is collected, but these are published for analysis only individualnot households.

[5] As another reference point: Recent ABS Analysis of Private Census Data It shows that only 5.7% of 25 to 39 year olds own a home outright.

[6] These households are plausible, but have considerable wealth. At the very least, having many spare bedrooms suggests a large, possibly high-value home.

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