The CBD is one enormous Chinatown

By Sunny Liu

The Melbourne CBD has a larger percentage of Chinese residents than any other CBD or suburb in Australia, the 2016 census shows.

More CBD residents were born in mainland China than any other country, including Australia.

Some 14.5 per cent of the people living in the CBD were born in Australia, whereas 24.9 per cent were born in mainland China, which is up from the 14 per cent of Chinese-born residents in 2011.

An even larger percentage (38.4 per cent) of Melbourne CBD residents identify their ancestry as Chinese, compared with 7.7 per cent who identify themselves as English and 4.6 per cent as Australian.

Mandarin is the top language spoken at home, with 30.7 per cent of residents speaking Mandarin at home and 21.9 per cent of residents speaking only English.

Second-generation immigrants, whose parents were born overseas, make up 76.7 per cent of the entire CBD population.

Other top countries of origin among CBD residents include Malaysia (8.4 per cent), India (6.1 per cent), Indonesia (4.4 per cent) and South Korea (4 per cent).

John Dall’Amico, president of Residents 3000, said the statistics on the Chinese population in Melbourne’s CBD should not be surprising.

“China is a country with the largest population in the world. So it shouldn’t be surprising that there are many CBD residents born in China,” he said.

Mr Dall’Amico pointed out two factors that might have drawn Chinese people to the Melbourne CBD.

“Schools play a big part. Lots of Chinese students come here for education,” he said.

“Also Melbourne is one of the most liveable cities in the world. So many people come here to stay.”

“We are a multicultural society. Chinese people add to that mix,” Mr Dall’Amico said.

With a median age of 26 and 67.5 per cent of the local population aged between 20 and 34, CBD residents are likely to be the youngest group in Victoria, where the state median age is 37.

The census also shows the CBD’s population has nearly doubled, from 20,627 in 2011 to 37,975 in 2016.

The explosion in the population is matched with the boom in the number of apartments since 2011, which has soared from 9496 to 16,327.

But living in the heart of the city comes with higher rental costs.

The median weekly rent in the CBD is $451, compared with the Victorian median of $325.

However, CBD residents’ median income is not keeping up with the CBD’s high rents.

The median personal weekly income among CBD residents is $431, lower than the $451 median weekly rent.

This means some residents may not be able to pay the rent with their own income, which may be explained by the 57.5 per cent of CBD residents who are currently studying.

CBD residents’ median personal weekly income is lower than the state median of $644, despite the higher-than-average weekly rent, making life in the CBD seem unaffordable among the 70.2 per cent of the residents who are renting their home.

The median weekly household income in the CBD is $955, compared with $1419 in Victoria.

In fact, 45.4 per cent of CBD households spend more than 30 per cent of the household income on rents, whereas in Victoria only 10.4 per cent of households face rents that cost more than 30 per cent of the household income.

Home ownership is 25.5 per cent in the CBD, much lower than the 67.6 per cent in Victoria.

CBD residents are also highly educated, with 57.8 per cent holding a diploma from a university or a tertiary institution, dwarfing the average 17.8 per cent across Victoria.

While the number of families has increased from 3706 to 5804 and family households are now making up 34.6 per cent of all CBD homes, CBD residents are largely single, as 74.3 per cent of them have never married.

Single-person households constitute 37.4 per cent and group households constitute 28 per cent of all households in the CBD.

The introduction of the free tram zone and easy access to the train system see 72.2 per cent of CBD residents not own a motor vehicle, a large contrast to the 7.9 per cent of Victorians without a vehicle.

Some 45.2 per cent of local residents say they are not religious, 11.5 per cent are Buddhist and 9.6 per cent are Catholic.

Statistics on employment will be released in October.

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