This post is the first part of what will be a three-part series on Auckland’s city centre and the 2013 census stats on it. Today, I’m looking at the changing demographics of the city centre.

Age Groups

The graph below shows the changing age structure of city centre residents, from 1996 through to 2013:

Age Groups

As shown here, we’re seeing a broader mix of age groups starting to live in the city centre. That includes more kids under 5. The percentage of school-age children is still very low, reflecting the lack of schools in the area. Matt has blogged about the ways in which the city centre could be made more child-friendly, taking lessons from Vancouver.

We’re also seeing a smaller proportion of people in the 15-19 and 20-24 age groups – and the drops are fairly substantial (42% to 35%). In their place, there are more people in the 25-29 and 30-34 age groups (29% to 35%). The DINKS (double income, no kids) are moving in.

Again, these changes in proportions are somewhat overshadowed by the overall population increase, so there are still more 15-24 year olds living in town overall.

Students vs. Non-Students

The number of students living in the city centre has risen quite substantially since 2006 – from 5,535 to 8,052 – but students now make up a smaller proportion of the population (39.5% vs 43.1%). That means a more diverse population, which is a good thing (it also means residents with more spending power, which is good news for CBD retailers).


Incomes are still low for many city centre households – 25% are in the lowest “$20,000 or less” bracket, no doubt reflecting a large number of students. Looking at the rest of the income distribution, there are relatively few (21%) households in the top bracket, although reasonable representation in the $50K to $100K range. The graph below compares 2013 incomes for the city centre, “inner city suburbs” (as defined in this paper), Auckland and New Zealand:


Lower incomes will reflect, in part, a younger and more ethnically diverse population. On a positive note, the number of city centre households in the top bracket increased by 86% between 2006 and 2013, and the number in the $70K-$100K bracket increased by 126%, compared with much smaller increases in the number of low-income households (48%, 33% and 57% respectively for the first three brackets). There’s more than just bracket creep going on there.

Commuting and Vehicle Access

More than 50% of city centre residents who commuted to work on census day did so by walking or jogging, with around 25% travelling in private vehicles and a number making use of buses or trains. Those are impressive stats, and it’s positive to see that car use has been steadily falling from 2001-2013.


Incidentally, living in the city centre can be pretty convenient even if you don’t work there – commuting against the traffic is a breeze. My partner used to get from our apartment to Orewa in 35 minutes in the morning (it still left us with fairly high petrol bills, but them’s the breaks).

The census also measures whether households have “access” to motor vehicles (motorbikes are excluded from the definition). As shown in the graph below, the proportion of carless households in the city centre has been growing quite substantially since 2001 – with minimum parking ratios now a thing of the past in the CBD at least, I’d expect this trend to continue.


“Household Sizes”

Not much to write home about here, but there’s now a higher proportion of 3-person households in the city centre, and fewer 1-person households. The average “household size” has increased from 1.9 to 2.0 residents.

HH size

Wrapping Up

Overall, the census stats show a picture of a city centre which is maturing in many ways. It’s good to see, and it reflects the qualitative changes we see taking place there – the CBD is getting more vibrant, with more to do, a better quality of life and improving transport links. Long may it last!

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  1. City is not really feasible for people with kids to live.

    There is a lacking of public primary and secondary school in city. Combining with the fact a large family apartment with multiple car parks is very expensive. For the same price, people could get a house in suburb with much bigger play space for the kids.

    Since the wealth is concentrated on older people. Therefore city is still considered as lower end.

    1. It is in parts of the city. I have a workmate that lives just off K Rd, he walks his girls to school in Freemans Bay each day quite happily. Distance wise they only travel 1,2km. That’s far less than I had to walk out in the burbs. High schools over there too. The CBD is only about 2km by 2km. Most primary schools serve an area much bigger than that.

      They have a larger apartment for a family of four, and one carpark. Neither of the parents need to drive to work or to do shopping or errands, nor do they need a car for the kids to get to school. So really, why you’d need more than one car per family escapes me.

  2. “Combining with the fact a large family apartment with multiple car parks is very expensive”

    Why would you want multiple car parks? You are missing the key to why people want to live in the city centre! As a family with young kids, you (might!) want one car park, but why two?

    And a good apartment okay for a family sets you back 400-500k. For that price you have to go rather far out into the outer ‘burbs before you get something.

    I can see why most people with kids prefer the burbs, but let’s talk about the real reasons, such as more greenspace, or schools. It isn’t car parking or comparative price.

    1. Unfortunately at this moment with our sub-optimal public transport, people couldn’t live without a car. One car is fine if one person work in city. However if both mun and dad does not work in city then it become impossible with one car.

      Also for the same amount of money, you get a tiny apartment with one or zero car park. Park residence 3 bed room 90m2 apartment with one car park sells for 900k now.

  3. The drop in the 35 and up ages are due to moving out to the suburbs, or just a bit farther away, for schools and access to the things kids do. (And it’s mainly schools, plus perception of security which usually follows reality.) That’s a common factor in downtown development.

  4. I wonder how many of the DINKs in 25-29 and 30-34 age groups were (students?) in the 15-19 and 20-24 age groups, in the previous census? Have they moved in, or did they never move out?

  5. It’s the trends that matter…. Check the transport chart, all moving one way; Active and Transit. Basically the city is getting better and better. And as the Transit options improve over next couple years this will just get more viable. Then with CRL-> Boom!

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