Covid hastening migration from capitals to regional areas

More Australians are choosing to live in regional areas, and the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, new data shows.

The inaugural Regional Australia Institute-CBA Regional Movers Index shows population movements from Australian capital cities to regional areas rose by seven percent from March 2020 to March 2021 – helping to drive net regional migration in the latest quarter 66 percent higher than a year earlier.

The regional areas with the largest annual share of capital city migration are coastal centres close to capital cities: Queensland’s Gold Coast (11 percent) and Sunshine Coast (6 percent), Victoria’s Greater Geelong (4 percent), and NSW’s Wollongong (3 percent) and Newcastle (2 percent).

The Index also reveals that the five local government areas with the largest annual growth in capital city migration are Queensland’s Noosa (49 percent) and Southern Downs (44 percent), NSW’s Port Macquarie-Hastings (38 percent), Tasmania’s Launceston (34 percent) and Queensland’s Fraser Coast (26 percent).

Notable migration patterns by state:

  • Capital cities in NSW and Victoria experienced the largest net migration outflows at 49.5 percent and 46.4 percent respectively.
  • Regional NSW and Regional Queensland are the main beneficiaries of the Sydney-Melbourne migration, followed by regional Victoria.
  • The Greater Geelong area experienced 10 percent annual growth and 9 percent quarterly growth to March 2021.
  • The regional areas of Wollongong and Newcastle in NSW experienced 8 percent and 7 percent year-on-year growth respectively.
  • Launceston’s migration almost doubled in the March quarter, with migration increasing by 88 percent.

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.”

“The index shows it’s not just people in our major cities who are realising the opportunities and value provided by regional living.

“People already living in our regions are increasingly choosing to stay, rather than head for the bright city lights,” Ms Ritchie said.