Chinatown and CBD South

Chinatown and CBD South is one of the smallest villages in the City of Sydney local area by population size, with an estimated population of just under 18,000 in 2014.

The village has a very high proportion of residents born overseas, with Chinatown attracting many international residents.

The village’s proximity to the University of Technology (UTS), Sydney and The University of Sydney also make it an attractive area for students, resulting in lower than average household incomes and retail spending per capita across the village. 

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Recent population growth

The population of Chinatown and CBD South was estimated to be 17,906 in 2014, making it one of the smallest villages within the City of Sydney by population. As displayed in Chart 2, population growth in the village was 5.1% per annum between 2006 and 2011, and estimated at 2.5% per annum between 2011 and 2014. This is significantly above City of Sydney-wide figures of 2.1% for 2006 to 2011 and 1.6% for 2011 to 2014.

Chart 2 – Estimated Resident Population

Chart 2 – Estimated Resident Population   

As shown in Figure 3, there appears to be two significant clusters of population density in the following locations:

  • The north-eastern quadrant of the village, to the south and west of Hyde Park. The majority of residential dwellings here are along Bathurst, Liverpool and Goulburn streets.
  • To the west of Belmore Park and Central railway station, an area which includes a large supply of student accommodation.

Figure 3 – Population Density, 2011

Figure 3 – Population Density, 2011   


The village attracts a variety of people and cultures, heavily influenced by the Chinatown precinct. There is a large Chinese, Korean and Indonesian population, with approximately 30% of the residents born in one of these 3 countries. The proximity of the village to UTS and The University of Sydney also makes the area a popular place for students to live. Table 1 summarises some of the key demographic characteristics of village residents, from which the following key points are noted:

  • The median household income is 19% below the Metro Sydney median and significantly below the City of Sydney local area median, influenced by the high proportion of students.
  • The average age of residents is nearly 18% below the Metro Sydney average.
  • The proportion of white collar workers (those in professional, managerial and administrative roles) is low when compared to the City of Sydney local area average.
  • The proportion of the population studying at university or TAFE is very high, accounting for almost a third of the total population.
  • The percentage of residents born overseas is extremely high when compared to the City of Sydney local area average, heavily influenced by the Chinatown precinct.
  • The village has a high proportion of renters (65%) and a high proportion of group households (24%).

Chart 3 highlights the household income distribution for residents of the village compared to the distribution across the City of Sydney and the greater Metro Sydney region. The chart highlights that households within the village typically have low incomes, with 71% of households having incomes under $104,000, compared to 59% for the City of Sydney local area. This is mainly driven by the strong student presence living within the village.

Average household income by block throughout the village is presented in Figure 4. As would be expected, the area of the highest average household income are in the more sought-after locations within the village, including Darling Harbour and adjacent to Hyde Park. These areas offer more natural amenity and views than other areas within the village.

Chart 3 – Household Income Distribution, 2011

Chart 3 – Household Income Distribution, 2011

Figure 4 – Average Household Income, 2011

Figure 4 – Average Household Income, 2011

Table 1 – Key Demographic Indicators, 2011

Chinatown & CBD South City of Sydney Metro Sydney
Median Household Income $61,372 $84,941 $75,451
Av. Age 30.6 36.1 37.1
Av. Household Size 2.4 1.9 2.7
% White Collar Workers 75% 87% 74%
% Born Overseas 86% 49% 36%
Bachelor Degree or Higher* 46% 48% 27%
Studying at University/TAFE 31% 17% 8%
Housing Status      
Owner 15% 14% 31%
Purchaser 19% 24% 36%
Renter - Public 1% 10% 5%
Renter - Private 64% 51% 27%
Household Structure      
Couples with No Kids 27% 28% 24%
Families (inc single parent) 21% 18% 49%
Singles 28% 40% 23%
Groups 24% 14% 4%

*Proportion of population over 15 years old
Source: Census of Population and Housing, 2011 – ABS

Resident retail spending

Chart 4 shows the estimated retail spending per capita in the village, based on Marketinfo modelling. Due to the lower household incomes, residents also have a lower level of retail spending, which is evident across all categories.

The most significant difference is in the food retail category which includes groceries and other supermarket-type goods. This category, however, is still the category that residents spend the most money on.

The category that shows the lowest variation from the City of Sydney local area average is food catering, which covers restaurants and take-away food. This is influenced by the large student population, who tend to have a preference for eating out over home cooking. Apparel also shows a smaller variation than other categories, again influenced by students, who spend a larger portion of their income on clothing and accessories.

Chart 4 – Resident Retail Spending Per Capita, 2012

Chart 4 – Resident Retail Spending Per Capita, 2012   

What does this mean for my business?

The local resident population is an important consideration for many local business owners. For many retailers and hospitality businesses, local residents are a core part of their market and a key source of repeat business. For both retail and non-retail businesses, local residents may comprise a significant portion of their workforce. Developing a profile of potential customers (or workforce) can assist in selecting an optimal location and/or developing an effective business plan.

Chinatown & CBD South has a large student population, which means that residents generally have lower incomes. However the student market does generate unique demands, including value-oriented restaurants, fashion retailers and entertainment facilities. Furthermore, it should be noted that, due to its central location and significant office worker and tourist markets, local businesses will not be as reliant on the resident market as would be in villages further from the city centre.


This information has been compiled from various sources. The publisher and contributors accept no responsibility for any injury, loss or damage arising from the use, error or omissions therein. While all care is taken to ensure a high degree of accuracy, users are invited to notify the City of Sydney of any discrepancies. No part of this information, including maps or data, may be reproduced without written permission.

Last updated: Tuesday, 16 June 2015