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Apartment dwellers drive suburbs’ population growth

We are typically younger, more affluent, and in smaller households than the rest of Victoria, census finds

Brunswick East’s apartment building boom is behind the suburb’s rapid population growth.

Mark Phillips
Friday, July 15, 2022

THE population of Brunswick East has increased by more than 50% over the past decade as a boom in apartment construction has drawn large numbers of younger people to the suburb, new census data reveals.

The first results of last year’s census show that the size of Brunswick East grew by 56% between 2011 and 2021, with people aged between 20 and 35 swelling to 45.5% of the suburb’s population, more than twice the proportion of people in that age group for the whole of Victoria. The suburb’s median age is 33, five years younger than the state median.

Recently built high rise apartments in Lygon and Nicholson streets are housing just over half of Brunswick East’s residents, compared to just 12.1% of people living in apartments for the whole of Victoria.

Another quarter of the suburb’s population live in terrace or town houses, compared to 13.9% for the state. But just 22.7% live in a detached house, compared to 73.4% for the entire state.

Apartment living is also popular in neighbouring suburbs with 34.2% of Brunswick’s residents living in them and apartments providing a home for 41.3% of the population of Brunswick West.

At last year’s census, held on August 10, the total combined population of Brunswick, Brunswick West and Brunswick East was 52,920. This was an increase of 19% since 2011, with more than half of that growth taking place in Brunswick East.

Brunswick remains the largest of the three suburbs with 24,912 residents, but has grown by less than 1% a year since 2011.

All three suburbs are typically younger, more affluent, and in smaller households than the state as a whole.

Even in Brunswick West, which is closest of the three suburbs to the rest of the state, a much higher proportion of the population – 34.2% - is aged between 20 and 35, compared to 21.3% for all of Victoria.

Weekly household incomes in all three suburbs are higher than the state and national averages. In Brunswick, the median household income is $2095 a week, which is $330 higher than the rest of Victoria.

Residents of the three suburbs are much more active in tertiary education, with 13.9% of Brunswick’s population current studying at a tertiary institution, compared to 7.4% for the entire state.

Less religious and less likely to be married

The census provides a fascinating snapshot of just how different people living in the three Brunswick suburbs are from mainstream Victorians and Australians.

For instance, about three in five people living in Brunswick and Brunswick East describe themselves as having no religious affiliation, which is almost twice the proportion both statewide and nationally.

Perhaps reflecting both the availability of public transport and the popularity of cycling, more than 20% of Brunswick residents have no car, which is also twice the state and national figure.

Residents in all three suburbs are also less likely to be married but more likely to be in a de facto relationship or single than other Victorians.

While 73.4% of all Victorians live in fully detached houses – a third of them with four bedrooms – only 35% of Brunswick residents do so, with apartment living much more common.

And all three suburbs have a much higher rate of long-term mental health conditions – up to 15.1% of the population in Brunswick – than the rest of Victoria and the nation.

However, in other respects – such as diabetes and arthritis – we are healthier than other Victorians and Australians.

But in some aspects, the population of Brunswick, Brunswick West and Brunswick East are not much different than other Victorians. Only about a third of residents in the three suburbs were born overseas, in line with the entire state, and a similar proportion speak a language other than English at home.

Further census results to be released in October will reveal more about the area, including types of employment, educational level and typical modes of transport.