3 minutes

Household is a common term that you will see used in public and private databases such as the census, or industry reports. In order to understand such data, it is important to have a clear understanding of what the definition of a household is. Households are any occupied or unoccupied living units or spaces with one roof. When talking about households, you’ll often look at the household size (number of people), the housing tenure (conditions under which the unit or house is occupied), and the number of children living in the space. Basically, a household is defined as:

  • One person living on their own; or
  • A group of people, who may or may not be related, living at the same address and sharing cooking, eating, and living spaces.

There are various types of households that reflect the different ways that people live together. These include:

  • One-person households,
  • One-family households – a couple with or without children, or single parents with a child or children
  • Multi-person and multi-family households, such as unrelated adults sharing a space, more than one family sharing a space, and families plus unrelated adults under one roof.

Some important statistics about households that came out of the most recent census in England and Wales are:

  • In England and Wales, there were 23.4 million households in 2011. That was up from 21.7 million households in 2001.
  • In the UK there were 27.2 million households in 2017, resulting in an average household size of 2.4.
  • In 2011 there were 55.1 million people in total living in these households.
  • That year, 1.1 million household spaces weren’t occupied by long-term residents. That number was an increase of 21% compared to 2001. Some of these unoccupied spaces included holiday homes, apartments for sale, and properties leased to short-term residents.
  • In England, the average household size was 2.36 people, with 2.31 in Wales. This size has remained roughly the same for the past three decades. Scotland’s household size is a bit smaller, at 2.19, while Northern Ireland’s is slightly larger, at 2.54 people on average.
  • The number of households with six or more people in them grew by 25% from 2001 to 2011. London leads the way for large households, with 3.9% there having six or more people. It also experienced the biggest increase between 2001 and 2011, at nearly 50%.
  • In England and Wales, 18% of living spaces are privately rented. That figure is a significant rise from 2001, when just 12% of household areas were rented. Meanwhile, homeownership of household spaces decreased from 69% to 64%.
  • Nearly half of all households have dependent children in them. This is something that has been consistent from 2001 to 2011.