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City-Siders Heading For Regional Australia

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City-Siders Heading For Regional Australia.

Cost of living pressures is seeing an increasing number of Australians headed for an easier life in regional suburbs.    

According to the latest Regional Movers Index (RMI), the number of people leaving the cities has hit a 12-month high and is now 20 per cent higher than the pre-COVID average.

Overall, the regions recorded their fifth biggest quarter of influx from city-slickers in the past six years. The Sunshine Coast continues to be the most popular destination for people fleeing the city, with a 16 per cent share of net internal migration flows over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, Sydney is seeing most people leave, with 67 per cent of net capital city outflows.

At the same time Regional NSW, Queensland and Victoria accounted for 97 per cent of net capital outflows, up from 94 per cent in the year prior. Regional Australia Institute (RAI) Chief Executive Officer, Liz Ritchie, said areas within a 150km radius of a capital city were among the most popular for metro-leaving movers.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank’s Regional and Agribusiness Executive General Manager, Paul Fowler said the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast continue to be popular choices for relocators.

“The Sunshine Coast topped the list for the fifth consecutive quarter, with an 11.8 per cent share of net capital to regional migration, while the Gold Coast came in second place—with the highest quarterly growth rate of the top five—followed by Moorabool (Vic), Lake Macquarie (NSW) and Greater Geelong (Vic),” Mr Fowler said.

Western Australia is also becoming an increasingly attractive location with Capel, Greater Geraldton, Northam and Albany all seeing new arrivals. “Regional LGAs on, or near, the sea were found to be this quarter’s top five growth regional hotspots, with Capel in the south-west of Western Australia making its debut in the top five with a near five-fold increase in net internal migration inflows on the back of its popularity amongst regional movers,” Mr Fowler said.

“What this shows us is many Australians are still seizing their sea change dreams.” Mr Fowler said in all seven capital cities analysed, millennials (born between 1981 and 1995) were the demographic most on the move, with the Gold Coast emerging as the most popular location.

“This quarter’s report paints the picture of younger individuals or younger families looking for somewhere that’s more affordable,” Mr Fowler said. “Many are opting for the large regional centres which are buzzing with business activity and investment, offering a great range of employment opportunities.” Ms Ritchie also said there was also a clear trend emerging. “With high house prices and cost-of-living pressures biting, many people are realising the regions can offer the lifestyle they want and the jobs they’re after, minus big city problems—like long commute times, tolls and traffic,” she said.

Ms Ritchie said 24 per cent more people moved from the city to the regions than the other direction. “People are voting with their feet and making a very conscious decision to live in regional Australia,” she said. “Whilst the pandemic supercharged this movement, the regional lifestyle is continuing to prove highly desirable for thousands of people, especially those from cities.”

She said the population shift could no longer be seen as a flow-on from COVID, stating that “A societal shift is underway.”

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