4130.0.55.001 - Housing Occupancy and Costs, Australia, 2002-03  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/02/2005   
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For many people, the cost of providing shelter for themselves and their families is one of the largest expenditures that they will make. The recurrent aspects of housing costs reported in this publication, which cover the housing-related mortgage and rates payments of owner households, and the rent payments of renter households, are also often the largest expenditure items to be met from households' current incomes.

The data presented in this publication are compiled from the Survey of Income and Housing (SIH), with information for the years 1995-96 to 2002-03, excluding 1998-99 when SIH was not run due to the Household Expenditure Survey (HES) being in the field for that year. However, more extensive and more detailed housing costs information, including the split between the interest and capital components of mortgage repayments, are available six-yearly from the Household Expenditure Survey (HES) - see Household Expenditure Survey, Australia: Detailed Expenditure Items (cat. no. 6535.0) for the information available from the 1998-99 survey. Results from the 2003-04 HES are expected to be released in mid 2005.


Changes since 1995-96

In 2002-03 there were approximately 19.3 million people or 7.6 million households living in private dwellings, up 8% on the number of people in private dwellings in 1995-96. There was a larger increase in the number of households over this period (up 15%), reflecting a decrease in the average household size from 2.68 to 2.53 persons per household. The average dwelling size remained the same at 3.0 bedrooms per dwelling. The proportion of separate houses decreased from 80% to 78%, while the proportion of dwellings that were either semi-detached houses or town houses rose (from 8% to 10%).

Over this period there was a decrease in the proportion of households that owned their dwelling outright, from 43% in 1995-96 to 36% in 2002-03. There were increases in the proportion of households that had a mortgage on their homes (from 28% to 33%) and in the proportion of households that were renting privately (from 19% to 22%).

HOUSING TENURE 1995-96 AND 2002-03
Graph: Housing tenure 1995-1996 and 2002-03

Life cycle stages

The proportion of households that own their home outright increases as the age of the reference person increases. Younger single persons (under 35) were least likely to own their home outright (4%), while couples with the reference person aged 65 and over were the most likely to own their home outright (89%) (Table 15). Younger single people were most likely to be renting privately (62%) and also had the highest proportion of any group in flats and apartments (42%). Younger persons in a couple relationship were more likely to move into home ownership than younger single people, with 54% of younger couple households owning their home with or without a mortgage. When couples have children they are more likely than younger couple only households to own a home. For couples with their eldest child under 5, 68% owned their home with or without a mortgage. This rose to 81% for couples with their eldest child aged 5 to 14, and 85% for couples with dependent children only and the eldest aged 15 to 24.

Graph: Housing tenure by life cycle


The composition of housing costs differs depending on type of tenure. In this publication, housing costs of owners comprise rates, both general and water, and mortgage repayments if the mortgage was initially taken out primarily to purchase, build or alter the dwelling. Owners that have a mortgage where the purpose of the mortgage when initially taken out was not primarily housing related, are categorised as owners with a mortgage, but their mortgage repayments are not included in their housing costs. For renters housing costs comprise the amount of rent paid.

The mean (average) weekly housing costs for all households was $137 in 2002-03. There is, however, considerable variation in housing costs with 46% of all households paying $75 or less per week. For owners without a mortgage the average weekly housing costs were $25, which represented 3% of average gross weekly income for those households. Owners with a mortgage paid an average of $246 per week on housing costs, which represented 17% of their average gross income per week. Households renting from private landlords paid an average of $189 per week, representing 20% of their average gross income. Households renting from state and territory housing authorities paid an average of $81 per week, representing 18% of their average gross income.

Changes since 1995-96

In real (CPI adjusted) terms average weekly housing costs across all households increased by 16% from $118 in 1995-96 to $137 in 2002-03. For owners without a mortgage, real average weekly housing costs increased from $24 in 1995-96 to $25 in 2002-03. For owners with a mortgage, real average weekly housing costs rose by 3% from $240 to $246. For private renters, real average weekly housing costs rose by 7% from $176 to $189.

Graph: Real housing costs by tenure type 1995-96 and 2002-03

Housing stress

People are often defined as being in housing stress if they have both relatively high housing costs and their income is ranked in the bottom 40% of the income distribution. In this publication the housing stress measure includes those with incomes between the bottom 10% and bottom 40% of the distribution of equivalised disposable household income. The incomes of many of the people in the lowest decile are not an appropriate indicator of the economic resources available to them (see paragraph 24 of the Explanatory Notes for details) and it is likely that many of them would inappropriately be regarded as in housing stress, were they to be included. Relatively high housing costs are those above 30% of gross household income (non-equivalised). Many higher income households pay more than 30% of their income on housing. However, they are excluded from the housing stress group because they often have more discretion to reduce their housing costs by lowering their mortgage repayments or moving to a cheaper dwelling. Using this definition of relatively high costs for people falling in the selected income range, 6% of people in households were in housing stress in 2002-03, with half of these people in rented dwellings. These proportions have changed very little since 1995-96.

PEOPLE IN HOUSING STRESS(a), 1995-96 TO 2002-03
Graph: People in housing stress 1995-96 to 2002-03


In the SIH, owners were asked to estimate the value of their dwelling. The estimate they provided may differ from valuations made by accredited valuers or the actual sale price of the dwelling. The extent of the difference has not been measured and therefore some care needs to be taken when using these data.

The proportion of total households with a mortgage outstanding increased from 28% to 33% over the period 1995-96 to 2002-03, and the proportion of dwellings owned outright declined from 43% to 36% (table 3). In 2002-03 the median value of the 5.3 million owner occupied dwellings was $250,000 (table 18), an increase of 31% on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjusted value of $191,000 in 2000-01, and a 52% increase on the corresponding value in 1995-96 (table 1). However, the CPI adjusted value of the median value of mortgage outstanding only increased by 19%, from $81,000 to $96,000, between 2000-01 and 2002-03, and by 37% between 1995-96 and 2002-03 (table 1).

The dwelling value and the number of bedrooms were highest for couple families with both dependent and non-dependent children present. The median value of dwellings for this group was $300,000. On average these dwellings contained 3.8 bedrooms and housed an average of 4.6 people. The life cycle group that reported the lowest median value of dwellings was Lone persons under the age of 35. The median value for this group was $180,000 and on average the dwellings contained 2.7 bedrooms.

The median value of dwellings for capital cities was $300,000 (table 21). The median value was highest in Sydney at $430,000, followed by Melbourne at $290,000.


Almost 1.2 million households purchased their dwelling in the 3 years before the survey. These households are divided into first home buyers (36%) and changeover buyers (64%). The majority of recent home buyers bought an established house (78% of first home buyers and 77% of changeover buyers).

The median value of recently purchased dwellings was $200,000 for first home buyers and $280,000 for changeover buyers (table 25). Housing costs, on the other hand, were higher for first home buyers than for changeover buyers, at $258 and $212 per week respectively (table 23). This is consistent with a higher proportion of first home buyers having a mortgage (91%) than of changeover buyers (66%). New dwellings had both a higher median value ($280,000) than recently purchased established dwellings ($235,000) and higher housing costs, with average weekly housing costs of $238 for new dwellings and $226 for established dwellings.


Diagram of selected household characteristics


The following is a list of tables available in the linked data cube.

ALL HOUSEHOLDS, 1995-96 TO 2002-03
1Housing costs by selected household characteristics, and dwelling values
2Housing costs as a proportion of gross income by selected characteristics
3Selected household characteristics
4Housing costs by selected household characteristics and tenure and landlord type
5Housing costs ranges by tenure and landlord type
6Housing costs by tenure and landlord type and household composition
7Selected household characteristics by household composition
8Housing costs by tenure and landlord type and age of reference person
9Selected household characteristics by age of reference person
10Housing costs by tenure and landlord type and equivalised disposable household income quintile
11Selected household characteristics by equivalised disposable household income quintile
12Housing costs by tenure and landlord type and principal source of household income
13Selected household characteristics by principal source of household income
14Housing costs by tenure and landlord type
15Selected household characteristics
Low income households
16 Housing costs by tenure and landlord type
17Selected household characteristics
Owner households
18Value of dwelling and equity in dwelling by selected life cycle groups
19Housing costs by tenure and landlord type and capital city
20Selected household characteristics by capital city
Owner households
21Value of dwelling by selected household characteristics
22Value of dwelling and equity by capital city
23Housing costs by selected household characteristics
24Housing costs as a proportion of gross income by selected household characteristics
25Median value of dwelling by selected household characteristics
26Selected household characteristics