I was having an interesting chat with a Medway buy to let landlord the other day when the subject of size of households came up in conversation.  For those of you who read my Brexit article published on the morning after the referendum, one of the reasons on why I thought the Medway property market would, in the medium to long term, be OK, was the fact that the size of households in the 21stCentury was getting smaller – which would create demand for Medway Property and therefore keep property prices from dropping.

Looking at the stats going back to the early 1960’s, when the average number of people in a home was exactly 3, it has steadily dropped by a fifth, to today’s figure of 2.4 people per household. That may not sound a lot, but if the population remained at the same level for the next 50 years and we had the same 20% drop in household size, the UK would need to build an additional 5.28 million properties ( or 105,769 per year). As we are only building 139,800 properties a year, that doesn’t leave much of a margin for people living longer and immigration. Looking closer to home:

In the Medway Council area, the average
number of occupants per household is 2.4 people

When we look at the current picture nationally and split it down into tenure types (i.e. owned, council houses and private renting), a fascinating picture appears.

The vast majority of homeowners who don’t have a mortgage are occupied by one or two people (81% in fact), although this can be explained as residents being older, with some members of the family having moved out, or perhaps a pensioner living alone.  People living on their own are more likely to live in a Council house (43%) and the largest households (those with 4 or more people living in them) are homeowners with a mortgage. Again that could be explained as homeowners with families tend to need a mortgage to buy. What surprised me was the even spread of private rented households and how that sector of population are so evenly spread across the occupant range. In fact, that sector is the closest to the national average, even though they only represent a sixth of the population.

When we look at the Medway Council figures for all tenures (Owned, Council and Private Rented) a slightly different picture appears:

1 person households in Medway
2 person households in Medway
3 person households In Medway
4 person households in Medway
5+ person households in Medway

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