Young help boost regional migration to a five-year high

  • By Zilla Efrat

Young people have helped drive regional migration to a five-year high as more Millennials and Gen-Xers head out of capital cities, according to the March quarter Regional Movers Index report.

A partnership between Commonwealth Bank and the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), the report analyses the quarterly and annual trends in people moving to Australia’s regions.

It shows that young people accounted for the largest proportion of movers to the highest growth regional areas, boosting an overall migration trend from capital cities to regional areas, in the 12 months to March 2022.

The number of people moving to regional areas rose by 16.6 per cent to reach a new five-year high in the March quarter, almost doubling pre-pandemic levels.

RAI CEO Liz Ritchie says Millennials and Gen-Xers are welcome additions to any regional community as they often bring with them business skills to grow the local community, as well as families who integrate into the local school system and community sporting activities.

“Regional living is attracting more young people and particularly younger families who are looking for bigger living spaces at a cheaper cost,” says Ritchie.

CBA regional and agribusiness banking executive general manager Paul Fowler says regional areas are providing attractive local employment opportunities.

“Regional Australia is thriving, fuelled by strong investment across a broad range of industries including agriculture, manufacturing, retail and hospitality,” he says.

“There are labour shortages in many parts of regional Australia and local businesses are attracting skilled and unskilled workers to increase capacity and serve the growing demand for products and services.”

Demand for housing is soaring, particularly in South Australia where regions such as Ceduna, Mount Gambier and Port Augusta were the top three local government areas with the biggest growth rates in the 12 months to March 2022.

“Mount Gambier is perfectly positioned between Adelaide and Melbourne with wonderful amenities and work opportunities in a diverse range of industries including manufacturing, agriculture, civil construction and wholesale retail,” says Fowler.

Regional movers to Ceduna jumped 114 per cent in the 12 months to March 2022. Growth in Mount Gambier and Port Augusta was also high, at 85 per cent and 74 per cent respectively. In other states, Moorabool in Victoria and Western Downs in Queensland experienced substantial growth rates of 56 per cent each.

Millennials account for the highest proportion of regional movers, making up 76 per cent of movers to Port Augusta, 70 per cent of movers to Mount Gambier and 66 per cent of movers to Ceduna.

While Millennials made up the biggest proportion of people moving to Moorabool, it also attracted a relatively high proportion of Gen-Xers at 24 per cent. Western Downs attracted a relatively large share of Gen Alpha and Z, comprising 19 per cent, as well as Baby Boomers, who made up 12 per cent of total movers.

The biggest outflows were from the major cities of Sydney and Melbourne with most people heading to regional NSW, Queensland, and Victoria.

The Gold Coast in Queensland remains the most popular destination overall, attracting 11 per cent of people from major capitals, in the 12 months to March 2022. The next most popular destinations were the Sunshine Coast, Greater Geelong in Victoria, and Wollongong and Newcastle in NSW.