2. Household-dwelling units and housing conditions 2017

Average size of a household-dwelling unit 2.01 persons

The number of household-dwelling units with one and two persons has been growing for several decades, being 76 per cent of all household-dwelling units at the end of 2017. At the end of 2017, the total number of household-dwelling units was 2,680,000, of which 1,162,000, i.e. 43 per cent, were single-person household-dwelling units. In 2017 the average size of a household dwelling unit was 2.01 persons, while in 1970 it was still three persons.

Figure 2. Number of household-dwelling units by size in 1970–2017, number

Figure 2. Number of household-dwelling units by size in 1970–2017, number

The size of a household-dwelling unit varied regionally. In urban municipalities the average size of a household-dwelling unit was 1.97 persons and in rural municipalities 2.10 persons. The structure of household-dwelling units differs between rural and urban areas. The share of one-person household-dwelling units is larger in urban areas (45%) than in rural areas (40%).

Around one half of Finns live in detached houses

Around one half of Finns live in detached houses, although only 40 per cent of permanently occupied dwellings are in detached houses. Terraced houses had 365,000 occupied dwellings, that is, 14 per cent of the dwelling stock. Of all occupied dwellings 45 per cent were in blocks of flats, although one third of the population live in blocks of flats. The explanation is that dwellings are smaller in blocks of flats, so smaller families or household-dwelling units live in them than in terraced or detached houses.

Table 2. Household-dwelling units and persons by type of building in 2017

Type of building Household-dwelling units     %    Persons         %   
Buildings total                                              2 680 077 100,0 5 385 972 100
Detached and semi-detached houses 1 054 924 39,4 2 656 612 49,3
Attached houses 365 381 13,6 711 722 13,2
Blocks of flats 1 214 584 45,3 1 941 093 36,0
Other buildings 45 188 1,7 76 545 1,4

One household-dwelling unit had around 81 square metres of living area at its disposal, or 41 square metres per person. The floor area per person diminishes considerably as the size of the household-dwelling unit grows. The average area available for a single person living alone was 60 square metres, a two-person household-dwelling unit had 45 square metres per person but a household-dwelling unit of six persons had no more than 21 square metres of floor area per person.

Table 3. Floor area per person (m2) by size of household-dwelling unit in 1985–2017

Year Number of persons
All household-dwelling units 1 person 2 persons 3 persons 4 persons 5 persons 6 persons 7+ persons
1985 28,9 48,6 34,3 27,6 24,1 21,2 18,7 15,2
1990 31,4 51,8 37,0 29,4 25,0 21,7 19,0 14,8
1995 33,4 54,0 39,2 30,4 25,3 21,9 19,0 15,0
2000 35,3 55,6 40,8 31,4 26,0 22,5 19,4 15,4
2005 37,5 57,0 42,4 32,3 27,3 23,7 20,4 16,3
2010 39,1 58,6 43,6 33,0 28,2 24,4 21,0 16,9
2015 40,1 59,8 44,3 33,4 28,3 24,6 21,0 16,9
2016 40,3 60,0 44,4 33,5 28,3 24,5 21,0 16,8
2017 40,5 59,9 44,6 33,6 28,3 24,5 20,9 16,8

Almost one in five Finns lives in an overcrowded dwelling

At the end of 2017, the number of household-dwelling units living in overcrowded dwellings was 224,000 and the total number of persons living in such dwellings was 925,000. A household-dwelling unit is defined as living in an overcrowded dwelling if it consists of more than one person per one room of its dwelling, so a person living alone cannot be regarded as living in an overcrowded dwelling. Almost one person in five lived in an overcrowded dwelling. In 2017 the number of overcrowded household-dwelling units has again decreased by around 3,000 and the number of persons living in overcrowded dwellings decreased by around 11,000.

Owner-occupied dwellings have more living space than rented dwellings, when measured by floor area per person. The average floor area per persons of a household-dwelling unit living in an owner-occupied dwelling is 44 square metres, while a unit living in a rented dwelling has only 33 square metres of floor area per person.

Of rental dwellings, non-subsidised rented dwellings had the most floor area per person, 33 square metres. Differences to other rental dwellings were not large. In government-subsidised rented dwellings the floor area was 31 square metres per person. In right-of-occupancy dwellings the living space per person was 33 square metres.

Mainly household-dwelling units of one to two persons in rented dwellings

The majority of those living in rented dwellings, 87 per cent, were living alone or together with another person, while in owner-occupied dwellings the corresponding share was 71 per cent. Six per cent of the household-dwelling units living in rented dwellings and 17 per cent of those living in owner-occupied dwellings were larger household-dwelling units with at least four persons. At the end of 2017, the number of permanently occupied rented dwellings was around 878,000, and 317,000 were government-subsidised or interest-subsidised rented dwellings and 561,000 dwellings were privately financed.

Figure 3. Rented dwellings by size of household-dwelling unit in 2017, (%)

Figure 3. Rented dwellings by size of household-dwelling unit in 2017, (%)

In all, 2,680,000 dwellings were permanently occupied at the end of 2017. Over one half of good one million permanently occupied dwellings in blocks of flats were rented dwellings. Around 118,000 dwellings were rented in terraced houses, being about one third of occupied dwellings in terraced houses. Detached and semi-detached houses had 34,000 rented dwellings.

One quarter of the population live in rented dwellings

The proportion of rented dwellings of all permanently occupied dwellings was 33 per cent. 1.4 million, or one quarter of the population, lived in rented dwellings. In rented dwellings there are smaller household-dwelling units than in owner-occupied dwellings. At the end of 2017, the total number of permanently occupied rental dwellings was around 878,000, of which 36 per cent were government-subsidised or interest-subsidised rental dwellings. The share of government-subsidised or interest-subsidised rental dwellings of all permanently occupied rental dwellings decreased, as dwellings freed from restrictions. And that is part of the reason why other rental dwellings increased. At the end of 2017, there were 43,000 right-of-occupancy permanently occupied dwellings in Finland. Forty-five per cent of them are located in Greater Helsinki.

Figure 4. Dwellings by tenure status in 1960–2017

Figure 4. Dwellings by tenure status in 1960–2017

Renting is a tenure status preferred by young household-dwelling units in particular. As the age of the oldest person of a household-dwelling unit goes up the proportion of those living in rented dwellings goes down. In all, 78 per cent of the household-dwelling units with the oldest person aged under 30 and nearly one third of those with the oldest persons aged 30 to 44 lived in rented dwellings, while only 22 per cent of the household-dwelling units where the oldest person was aged over 45 did so. The household-dwelling units where the oldest person was aged 45 to 74 were the most likely to own their house. Forty-two per cent of the households-dwelling units meeting this age criterion were owner-occupiers of detached houses. In contrast, when the oldest person in the household-dwelling unit was older than this, owning a house was less likely. The most common mode of dwelling at a later stage in life was an owner-occupied flat in a housing company.

Number of first-time homebuyers 21,900 in 2017

According to Statistics Finland, the household-dwelling population included 21,900 first-time buyers of dwellings in housing companies. The number of first-time homebuyers has fallen by 12,300 persons (36 per cent) compared with 2006. Here, a first-time homebuyer refers to a person who has bought a dwelling in a housing company and is exempt from the asset transfer tax as a first-time homebuyer. Those having bought their first home in a real estate property are not included in the statistics.

First-time buyers of dwellings in housing companies are centred on towns. Most first-time homebuyers (66 per cent) were living in the ten biggest towns of Finland in the year of purchase. 21 per cent of first-time homebuyers were living in Helsinki.

Figure 5. First-time homebuyers by municipality of residence in 2006 to 2017, persons

Figure 5. First-time homebuyers by municipality of residence in 2006 to 2017, persons

In 2017, the average age of first-time buyers of a dwelling in a housing company was 28,7. Of first-time homebuyers, 19,000 were lived in the purchased dwelling at the end of the year. These persons were divided into 15,000 household-dwelling units, 5,800 of which were one-person household-dwelling units.

Persons aged 18 to 39 who do not already own a dwelling and who buy the dwelling for their own use are exempt from the asset transfer tax. First-time homebuyers have to move in within six months from the time of purchase, for which reason all first-time homebuyers are not living in the dwelling they own in the statistical reference period. Those registered as permanently resident at institutions, dormitories and abroad, as well as homeless people do not belong to the household-dwelling population. Helsinki region includes four towns: Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa.

In Greater Helsinki, 15 per cent of persons aged 20 to 29 were living with their parents in 2017. The share has increased by two percentage points from 2005. Outside Greater Helsinki, 17 per cent of persons aged 20 to 29 were living with their parents in 2017. The share has fallen by four percentage points from 2005, but it is still higher than in Greater Helsinki.


Source: Dwellings and Housing Conditions, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Otto Kannisto 029 551 3044, Marja Hermiö 029 551 3211, info@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 10.10.2018

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Dwellings and housing conditions [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-6761. Overview 2017, 2. Household-dwelling units and housing conditions 2017 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 21.10.2018].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/asas/2017/01/asas_2017_01_2018-10-10_kat_002_en.html