Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo

Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo had an estimated population of 20,180 in 2014, which is slightly above the average village population in the City of Sydney.

Although average household income is 5.9% above the Metro Sydney average, there are still large pockets of middle to lower income residents.

Households in the area are dominated by singles, and there are very few families with children in the area. 

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Recent population growth

The population of Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo village was estimated to be 20,180 in 2014. As shown in Chart 2, growth in the village population has been relatively low, averaging 0.7% per annum from 2006 to 2011 and an estimated 1.1% per annum for 2011 to 2014. By way of reference, the equivalent figures for the City of Sydney local area as a whole were 2.1% and 1.6%. The low population growth rate in this village is to be expected given that the area is already densely developed with residential accommodation.

Chart 2 – Estimated Resident Population

Chart 2 – Estimated Resident Population

As shown in Figure 3, the most densely populated areas are along the eastern edge of William Street near Darlinghurst Road and down Macleay Street. Overall, the village is one of the more densely populated in the City of Sydney, which is due to the significant number of apartments in the area.

Figure 3 – Population Density, 2011

Figure 3 – Population Density, 2011


Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo is home to a colourful and lively mix of resident communities. Modern urbanites in Potts Point live close by to public housing tenants in Woolloomooloo and the eclectic groups of residents in Kings Cross. There is also a longstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in Woolloomooloo. Table 1 summarises some key demographic indicators, with the following points highlighted:

  • median household income sits between the City of Sydney local area and Metro Sydney medians
  • average age is reasonably high compared to the City's local area and Metro benchmarks
  • the village has a high proportion of renters at 64%, out of all residents, 5% are in public housing
  • a very large proportion of households (57%) are singles, while a very low proportion (9%) are families
  • the proportions of white-collar workers and tertiary educated residents is high, but in line with the City's local area average.

Chart 3 shows the household income distribution for the village compared to distributions for the City of Sydney local area and the Metro Sydney region. The village has a larger proportion of low to middle income groups, with a higher number falling between into income brackets between $20,800 and $156,000. This diverse range of incomes reflects the mix of public housing with white-collar professionals.

Chart 3 – Household Income Distribution, 2011

Chart 3 – Household Income Distribution, 2011

Figure 4 shows average household income by block across the village. It shows that higher income residents tend to be located in Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay, Rushcutters Bay, and along William Street. Meanwhile lower income areas exist in Kings Cross and central Woolloomooloo.

Figure 4 – Average Household Income, 2011

Figure 4 – Average Household Income, 2011

Table 1 – Key Demographic Indicators, 2011

Macleay St & Woolloomooloo City of Sydney Metro Sydney
Median Household Income $78,110 $84,941 $75,451
Av. Age 40.5 36.1 37.1
Av. Household Size 1.5 1.9 2.7
% White Collar Workers 88% 87% 74%
% Born Overseas 42% 49% 36%
Bachelor Degree or Higher* 52% 48% 27%
Studying at University/TAFE 10% 17% 8%
Housing Status
Owner 17% 14% 31%
Purchaser 18% 24% 36%
Renter - Public 5% 10% 5%
Renter - Private 59% 51% 27%
Household Structure
Couples with No Kids 25% 28% 24%
Families (inc single parent) 9% 18% 49%
Singles 57% 40% 23%
Groups 9% 14% 4%

Source: Census of Population and Housing, 2011 – ABS

Resident retail spending

Chart 4 presents the estimated retail spending per capita for village residents in 2012 based on Marketinfo modelling. The chart shows that residents spend more per capita on each category than the average for the City of Sydney local area as well as Metro Sydney. Spending in the food retail category (including supermarkets and groceries) is where the majority of spending occurs, and is also where spending by village residents is significantly above average.

The spending per capita within the village is also significantly higher than the averages in discretionary categories such as food catering, homewares, leisure and services. Given the large proportion of single persons and couples living in the area, this is unsurprising, as these groups tend to have more disposable income.

Chart 4 – Resident Retail Spending Per Capita, 2012

Chart 4 – Resident Retail Spending Per Capita, 2012

What does this mean for my business?

Understanding the characteristics of the local resident population is important for both retail and non-retail businesses. For retailers, local residents usually make up a core part of their market, and are a key source of repeat business. Local residents also often make up a large part of the workforce of local businesses.

One of the defining characteristics of Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo is the large proportion of single person households. Combined with moderate to high incomes in a significant proportion of the population, this leads to a high level of discretionary spending among residents. The success of restaurants and cafés in the village is proof of the potential for local businesses to capitalise on this high level of spending. Meanwhile a relative lack of non-food retail may present opportunities for enterprising retailers to fill a market gap.


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