Can we use Census stats to predict trends and hotspots?

Results from the 2013 New Zealand Census have been released and hold some interesting insights into home ownership and renting, the size of our homes and how much we pay for them. While so many factors go into a decision to buy to invest or to occupy, these statistics are interesting food for thought if you’re keeping your eye on the market.

Given the 2011 Census was cancelled after the Canterbury earthquake, the gap between this census and the last one was seven years. While we probably can’t accurately predict trends from this data like we normally would, it’s still a significant snapshot of where we are.

At the time of the Census, about eight out of ten dwellings were separate houses and three out of four were single-storey, but multi-storey dwellings were becoming more common.

453,135 households were renting, up from 388,275 in 2006. Nationally, the median weekly rent was $280, but we generally paid $260 for two bedrooms, $300 for three bedrooms, and $360 for four bedrooms.

The highest median rents were in the Auckland area, the highest was Upper Harbour at $430 per week. Selwyn district had the highest percentage increase in median weekly rent of 75%, from $160 in 2006 to $280 in 2013.

Rented homes had fewer rooms than homes lived in by the owner. A two-bedroom home was the most popular for renters – representing 29% of homes. But a trend towards renters being in larger houses was on the rise. For investors who might’ve looked at smaller properties in the past, it’s worth watching this statistic over time to see if the trend for bigger homes continues.

Tasman had the highest level of home ownership with 75% of households here owning their home. The region with the lowest level of home ownership was Gisborne, with 59% of households owning their home.

And even though the average household size stayed the same at 2.7 people for each home, the size of our houses are getting bigger, with the amount four bedroom homes increasing. We want more space at home.

Taken from Statistics New Zealand (2014). 2013 Census QuickStats about housing. Available from