Regional Growth Continues to Trend

The level of movement of capital city dwellers to regional areas is at a three-year high, while net regional migration in the latest quarter is 66 percent higher than a year ago, according to research.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has released its Regional Movers Index in partnership with the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), which has shown the changes in population flows from capital cities to regional areas.

The index has revealed that the number of people who moved from capital cities to regional areas jumped by seven percent in the March 2021 quarter compared with the March 2020 quarter.
The latest level of population movement is at its highest since early 2018, according to the index.

Capital cities in NSW and Victoria saw the largest net migration outflows at 49.5 percent and 46.4 percent, respectively, with regional NSW and regional Queensland the main beneficiaries of the Sydney-Melbourne migration, followed by regional Victoria.

Furthermore, the index revealed that residents moving from capital cities to regional areas increased their share of overall movements during the March 2021 quarter, with this group accounting for 6.3 percent of all movers, up 0.7 percentage points from a year earlier.

In the same period, all other forms of internal migration (regional to regional, capital to capital, regional to capital) shrank, the report said.  Movement out of capital cities dipped by 11 percent in the June 2020 quarter, reflecting the peak of domestic restrictions across Australia during that period to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

Since then, there has been a trend of a growing outflow of residents from capital cities to regional areas, the report stated.  The index also showed that residents in regional areas have remained there, accounting for a declining share of total internal movements (down by 0.2 percentage points over the year), leading to an increase in net migration into regional areas.

“The pandemic-driven acceleration of net regional migration indicates that those already in regional areas are finding reasons to stay while city dwellers are finding compelling reasons to relocate rather than stay in the various capitals,” the report said.

“These dynamics have driven the net regional migration index in the latest quarter to be 66 percent higher than a year earlier.”

The Gold Coast is the most popular destination among those moving to the regions, with 11 percent of capital city dwellers who moved to regional areas choosing to move there during the March 2021 quarter. This was followed by the Sunshine Coast, Greater Geelong, Wollongong and Newcastle.

The Sunshine Coast saw the largest growth in migration from capital cities compared with the other top five local government areas (LGAs), with migration growing by 24 percent in the March 2021 quarter, and by 14 percent over the year, the index showed.

Commenting on the index findings, CBA’s executive general manager for regional and agribusiness banking, Grant Cairns, said: “The index demonstrates how Australians formerly living in capital cities have embraced remote ways of working as an opportunity to experience what these areas have to offer, while those already in regional areas are finding reasons to stay.”

“I’m optimistic about what this growth means for regional Australia, as more people experience the liveability of our regional areas and embrace the associated work/life balance and affordability.”

Regional Australia Institute CEO Liz Ritchie said: “This new Regional Movers Index will provide vital and timely data intelligence on emerging growth hotspots around the country, allowing government, industry and communities to act more quickly on issues such as housing and infrastructure.”