'Cost-of-living pressures biting': Australians move to regions

Jessica Belzycki
May 31 2024 - 3:43pm

City-dwellers are increasingly moving to regional centres, new data from the Regional Movers Index has found.

The Regional Australia Institute along with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) have released their report from the first three months of 2024.

Analysing CBA customer movements, they found that 24 per cent more people moved from the cities to the regions, than in the other direction.

More and more city dwellers are moving to regional Australia. Here's the list of where they are moving to.

Metropolitan to regional relocations were sitting 20 per cent higher than pre-COVID-19 averages.

The eastern states, NSW, Queensland and Victoria, accounted for the highest amount of capital city outflows, 97 per cent, into regional areas in the last 12 months.

Sydney was the biggest shedder of people, with 67 per cent moving to the regions, while 30 per cent vacated Melbourne.

Regional Australia Institute CEO, Liz Ritchie said while the pandemic triggered relocations for many Australians, moving regional was here to stay.

"People are voting with their feet and making a very conscious decision to live in regional Australia," she said.

"This movement in population can no longer be seen as a quirky flow-on effect from the lockdown years. A societal shift is underway."

Picture of houses in Wollongong, NSW in 2020. Picture Anna Warr
Picture of houses in Wollongong, NSW in 2020. Picture Anna Warr

Ms Ritchie said this shift showed the importance of investing in the regions to bolster services, skills and infrastructure needed.

Most movement tended to be into larger centres rather than rural places, likely due to access to services and amenities, she said.

Popular destinations

The report measured net internal migration flows, looking at CBA customers who had relocated into a place minus the number that had relocated out.

The Sunshine Coast, Queensland was the most popular destination for all people, with a 16 per cent share of net internal migration flows over the last 12 months.

The Gold Coast, Queensland came in second, at 9 per cent, with Greater Geelong, Victoria third, at 6.3 per cent, Moorabool, Victoria fourth at 5.5 per cent, and Fraser Coast, Queensland fifth at 4.4 per cent.

The top five for city-slickers was similar including, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Moorabool, Lake Macquarie, NSW, and Greater Geelong, VIC.

Preferences for people moving between regional centres also saw other regional towns such as Maitland and Cessnock in NSW, and Townsville in Queensland rank in the top five.

Affordability and lifestyle

Millennials were the largest group leaving the cities in all states.

"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," Ms Ritchie said.

Commonwealth Bank regional and agribusiness manager Paul Fowler said younger people and younger families may be looking for more affordability.

He said the primary reasons for regional shift included strong economic conditions, cost-of-living and lifestyle opportunities.

"Many are opting for the large regional centres which are buzzing with business activity and investment, offering a great range of employment opportunities," he said.

Jessica Belzycki

Journalist at the Newcastle Herald.