The survey also found the nation's population had grown to 48.1 million, from 44.8 million at the last census in 2001. Black South Africans account for 79 percent of the population, it said.
"Substantial progress has been made with regard to improving the living conditions of South Africans," Stats SA said in releasing the results.
The survey showed large gaps remain in education. It said 12 percent of blacks over the age of 20 have no schooling - half what it was at the first census in 1996 - compared with just 0.6 percent of whites. Only 5.6 percent of blacks go on to higher education, compared with 31 percent of whites.
But generally, it painted an upbeat picture about advances since the 1994 end of apartheid, which condemned the black majority to a life of deprivation and discrimination.
The survey said that housing conditions had improved, with 71 percent of homes classed as "formal dwellings" rather than as shacks, compared with 64 percent in 1996, when the first post-apartheid census was conducted.
It said 80 percent of households now use electricity for lighting and 67 percent use it for cooking, compared with 58 percent and 47 percent, respectively, in 1996.
The majority of households - 88 percent - now have access to indoor plumbing, said the community survey, which was based on 255,000 households.
Households still using bucket toilets halved to just over 2 percent, though just over 8 percent still had no access to any toilet facility.
The survey found that the number of households owning a mobile phone more than doubled from 32.3 percent in 2001 to just under 80 percent this year.
Those owning a computer almost doubled to 15.7 percent, but only 7.3 percent had Internet access at home.