Home Insights Australia is fast becoming a nation of loners. There are implications for us all

Australia is fast becoming a nation of loners. There are implications for us all

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Single-person households are on the rise across the developed world and on our own coasts, and this will have far-reaching implications for housing demand and needs.

This article examines the impact of the changing Australian household pattern on the property market.

The number of single-person households is increasing

In many European, British and American countries, living alone has been common since at least the 1970s.

It is also projected that the number of single-person households will increase in all OECD countries over the next decade.

As a result, households are becoming smaller and more diverse.

Australia is becoming more and more a country where people live alone.Photo: Getty

Two is still the most popular household size in Australia, but changing lifestyle trends, an aging population and changing attitudes towards marriage are starting to shift from the late twenties onwards.th century.

In Australia, the average household size has fallen from 4.5 in 1911 to 3.6 in 1961, 2.6 in 2016 and is now 2.5 in 2021.

The proportion of single-person households has also steadily increased from 20% in 1991 to 26% in 2021.

At the same time, the proportion of larger dwellings has consistently increased, while the proportion of Australian dwellings with two bedrooms or less has declined over the past three decades.

The increase in single-person households is driven by several factors, including:

  • Demographic change: With an aging population, older people are more likely than any other age group to live alone. People lived longer, choosing to live alone or relying less on intergenerational living arrangements.
  • Marriage and Family Trends: Late marriage, declining fertility rates, and an increase in family diversity are also leading to an increase in single-person households.
  • Changing social norms: Attitudes toward living alone have become more acceptable, and people are more comfortable living independently and pursuing their own interests and goals.
  • Economic drivers: Rising incomes, rising female labor force participation, the rise of the gig economy, and the flexibility of remote work have increased the ability to live and work from anywhere. This has also contributed to the increase in single-person households.

While living with a partner is projected to remain the most common form of living, the proportion of single-person households is increasing and is projected to continue to increase.

In the coming decades, more Australians will be living alone.

According to the latest data available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the share of single-person households is 25.6% of the total housing mix, up from 24.4% in 2016 and just 20.1% in 1991.

The pandemic has played a role in the transition between 2016 and 2021, with more people living alone due to lockdowns and restrictions. And especially among renting households.

But it’s all part of the long-term change. This has important implications for the housing wants and needs of our population.

Optimization of housing supply

ABS estimates that by 2041, 18 years later, there will be between 12.6 million and 13.2 million Australian households.

This represents nearly 4 million additional households compared to the classifiable number of households at the 2021 Census.

Single-person households are one of the fastest growing types, with an estimated 3-3.5 million people living alone by 2041.

This could represent a 19% to 29% share of projected additional households by 2041, with over 1.1 million single-person households added, up to a 28% share of single-person households. It means that there is a possibility of becoming

In the last five years, 965,098 new homes were built.

This is despite the current housing affordability issues facing some people, not to mention the right mix of right-sized residential dwelling structures to meet changing demographics. This suggests that we are not building enough housing to sustain the growing number of households.

Additionally, the rate at which new homes are being built has lagged even further in recent months. Current challenges such as rising interest rates, cost pressures and labor shortages are putting pressure on production.

In the 12 months to September 2022, single-family home starts are 4% above the five-year average. In the 12 months to September 2022, apartment and semi-detached housing starts fell 19% compared to the average over the past five years.

The pandemic’s rise in lonely living has had a sharp impact on rental markets across the country, pushing rental price increases to record highs.

Smaller household sizes mean there are more households for a given population growth, and this affects not only housing demand but also the inefficiency of the current housing stock and what and where to build. It also has a big impact on what you need.

As the number of single-person households increases, demand for small homes suitable for single-person living is likely to increase, both for rent and for ownership.

Compared to other household sizes, single-person households are more likely to own or rent a home outright. In particular, the increasing proportion of single-person households renting has its own set of implications for the rental stock and rental housing sectors across the country.

Older Australians are increasingly likely to live alone.Photo: Getty

In addition, single-person households may have different priorities and housing preferences, such as prioritizing location and convenience over housing size.

This drives demand for properties in areas that are within walking distance to amenities and public transportation, and that focus on community, security, and ease of maintaining social connections.

Overall, the increase in single-person households is likely to have a significant impact on the housing market, and both policy makers and industry players should consider these trends when planning for the future.

Moreover, Australia’s growing population, combined with the slowing rate of construction of new housing stock, has created problems in ensuring that enough housing is built to house the country, let alone the right type of housing. increase.

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