National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Number of households continues to increase

Number of households continues to increase

Thursday, 20 Jun 2024
demography news release image

In 2023, there were an estimated 2.54 million households, 14% more  than 20 years ago, according to figures published today by National Records of Scotland (NRS). 

The 0.8% increase in the number of households between 2022 and 2023 represented the highest annual growth rate since 2008. 

Over the last twenty years the number of households increased in every council area. The largest percentage increases were in East Lothian (28%), Midlothian (27%) and Orkney Islands (26%). 

Census data for 2022 shows more than a third (37%) of households comprised one person living alone.

Sandy Taylor, Head of Household Statistics said:

“These statistics show a continuation of the trends of rising numbers of households and more single person households. 

A total of 930,000 or one sixth of the population live alone. Scotland has the highest percentage of single person households in the UK. The ageing population is driving this growth as older people are more likely to live alone.”

Of the 2.72 million dwellings in Scotland in 2023, 92,500 (3%) were vacant and 24,000 (1%) were second homes. 


These figures are based on an accredited Official Statistics publication released today by National Records of Scotland (NRS):

Households and Dwellings in Scotland 2023’ 

The household and dwelling statistics are mainly used for informing decisions about housing need and service provision.

A ‘dwelling’ refers to the accommodation itself, for example, a house or a flat. A ‘household’ refers to the people living together in that dwelling. The number of households will be smaller than the number of dwellings, as some dwellings are vacant or second homes.

In 2013, the Scottish Government introduced legislation which allows councils to increase the Council Tax charges on certain long-term empty properties. It also made slight changes to the definitions of such properties and second homes. The aim of the legislation is to encourage empty home owners to bring their properties back into use. More information on this, and other empty homes initiatives, can be found on the Scottish Government website.

The publication includes revised estimates of the number of households in the years 2012 to 2022. These revisions are because 2022 Census data are now available to update the adjustment factors used to derive the household estimates. The previously published figures have been revised downwards slightly – of the order of 1% or less at Scotland level. They do not impact significantly on the overall trends being reported.

Further statistics produced by NRS, and information about our statistics, can be accessed on our website

Media enquiries should be directed to:  
NRS Communications
Email: [email protected]

Further information about the statistics is available from:
NRS Customer Services
Email: [email protected]