Population census: the number of dwellings is growing, and more and more people are living in private houses

Posted on 5 July 2022, 8:00

A total of 737,873 dwellings were counted in the 2021 Population and Housing Census, based on registers. Compared to the 2011 census, 47,793 new dwellings have been built, which is 1000 fewer than in the previous ten years (2001–2011). According to census data, there are now 14% more private houses than 10 years ago and 24% of all dwellings are vacant.

At the census moment, i.e. 31 December 2021, there were 737,873 dwellings enumerated in Estonia, including private houses and blocks of flats, collective living quarters and other housing units. 557,146 (76%) of all the enumerated dwellings were occupied, i.e. had at least one permanent resident, and 175,690 (24%) were without permanent residents. The share of dwellings without permanent residents has increased between the two censuses. In 2011, 84% of dwellings were occupied, compared to 87% in 2000.

“These numbers suggest that people have been acquiring, for instance, summer-houses and other properties they do not constantly inhabit. Dwellings that have already been completed according to the building register but that have not yet been inhabited are also included here,” explained Terje Trasberg, leading analyst at Statistics Estonia.

Dwellings by type of dwelling based on 2000, 2011 and 2021 census data

Liina Osila, Population and Housing Census project manager at Statistics Estonia, noted that compared to the previous census, the number of dwellings with permanent residents in Estonia has increased by 2.2%. “In general, the quality of people’s living spaces in Estonia has certainly improved. The number of dwellings with a water supply system, bathing facilities, toilet facilities, as well as with central heating has increased. Living in a private house has become increasingly popular,” stated Osila.

Narva has the largest apartment buildings

The number of residential buildings in Estonia is 266,475 based on the 2021 census. Of these, 77.5% (206,529) are one-family dwellings, 18% (47, 847) are blocks of flats, 3.2% (8,572) are semi-detached houses and 1.3% (3527) non-residential buildings, with at least one living space.

Narva has the biggest blocks of flats, with an average of 64 flats per building. Estonia’s largest block of flats, with a total of 360 flats, is also located in Narva. The smallest apartment buildings are in Hiiumaa, where the average number of flats per building is 9.05. There is only one municipality in Estonia – Ruhnu – where there are no blocks of flats.

The largest number of people lives in buildings completed in 1961

69.8% (389,101) of the dwellings with permanent residents are located in blocks of flats (buildings with three or more flats), 27.7% (154,426) are in private houses, 1.6% (8736) in semi-detached houses and 0.9% (4883) are in non-residential buildings.

17,167 new buildings with conventional dwellings have been added to the dwelling stock since the previous census (i.e. their year of construction is 2012 or later). 82.1% of these are private houses, 11.2% are blocks of flats, 6% semi-detached houses and 0.7% are non-residential buildings. “Since blocks of flats contain more dwellings, there has been a bigger increase in dwellings located in apartment buildings: of the dwellings added in the last ten years, 29.8% are in private houses and 64.4% in blocks of flats,” Trasberg explained. By year of construction, however, the largest number of occupied dwellings is found in buildings completed in 1961.

On average, the largest dwellings are in Kiili, the smallest in Sillamäe

The total area of occupied dwellings is 38,970,750 m2 – a rise by 1.38% (530,488 m2) compared to 2011. The total area of vacant (unoccupied) dwellings is 10,689, 971 m2.

Across all types of dwellings (private houses, blocks of flats), the area per inhabitant has, on average, decreased slightly compared to 2011: from 30.5 m2 in 2011 to 30.1 m2 in 2021. A decrease has also occurred in the average number of rooms per inhabitant, from 1.24 in the 2011 census to 1.21 in 2021.

Rae municipality has the highest number of inhabitants per occupied dwelling (3.1), while the number is lowest in Sillamäe city (1.95). The largest dwellings are in Kiili municipality and the smallest in Sillamäe city.

Estonians and Finns are the only people in the world who bathe in saunas

The availability of comfort characteristics has improved in all dwellings (both in occupied and vacant ones): the number of dwellings with a water supply system, with bathing facilities, with indoor flush toilet facilities, and with central heating has increased. 93.3% of occupied dwellings have a water supply system, 93.1% of dwellings have bathing facilities, 91.1% have toilet facilities (flush toilet) and 68.5% have central heating. Sillamäe has the highest coverage of flush toilets (99% of dwellings).

Compared to the previous census, the number of dwellings that have toilet facilities has risen by 5.2% (25,295) and a big increase has also occured in the number of dwellings with bathing facilities – up by 11,335. There has been a similar rise in the number of dwellings with central heating (up by 11,597). “Estonia and Finland are the only countries where saunas are considered as bathing facilities in a population and housing census,” Trasberg added.

The results are based on register-based census data and have been published in the statistical database. The data collected with the survey are still being processed and analysed and Statistics Estonia will publish these results in November.

See also:



Data by counties


For further information:

Helen Maria Raadik
Media Relations Manager

Marketing and Dissemination Department
Statistics Estonia
Tel +372 625 9191