Regional areas continue to attract capital city dwellers: CBA

Photo by Johan Mouchet on Unsplash.

Australians looking for a change of scenery continue to flock to regional areas, with those closest to capital cities emerging as the most popular destinations.

According to the Commonwealth Bank’s Regional Movers Index, which was jointly compiled with the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), the number of new arrivals to regional centres from capital cities dipped by 8 per cent over the June 2021 quarter.

However, regional centres continue to appeal during the COVID-era, with the percentage of capital city dwellers moving to regional areas currently up 11 per cent compared with the June 2020 quarter.

The Index also noted a commonality between the areas which grew the fastest in the 12 months to June 2021 — proximity to Melbourne. 

Yearly growth in migration was highest in the Victorian LGA of Moorabool at 68 per cent, followed by Mansfield (62 per cent) and Corangamite (52 per cent). All are located within a three-hour drive from the lockdown-prone city. 

Murray River in New South Wales also saw a 48 per cent spike in inward migration from capital cities, followed by Alpine in Victoria at 47 per cent. 

According to the Index, Melbourne’s share of net capital city outflows has reached 47 per cent, up from 39 per cent last year. 

CBA’s executive general manager for regional and agribusiness banking, Grant Cairns said the high number of metro-movers reflects not only the growing popularity of regional areas but attempts by those areas to accommodate new arrivals. 

“With house prices rising across the capital cities and flexible work options now more commonplace, the decision to make a lifestyle shift and move to a regional area has become a realistic option,” he said.

“The experience of lockdowns is front of mind for Victorians, so the desire to seek a tree change is rapidly growing. It is positive to see the development of infrastructure - particularly in regional areas - is growing to meet the increased demand.”

RAI’s chief economist, Kim Houghton said that while population flows into regional areas continue, regional residents haven’t shown much of a desire for a change of scenery.

“The Index identifies regional areas which are emerging as desirable destinations for capital city residents, enabling local leaders and business owners to prepare for a burst of population growth,” he said.

“We can also see that the number of regional residents choosing to stay put has increased, which is likely to be contributing to the housing squeeze in some areas.”

Indeed, dwelling values across regional areas have risen rapidly in the past year, outpacing growth in the combined capital city markets.

According to property research firm CoreLogic, regional prices climbed 5.4 per cent over the quarter and 21.6 per cent over the year. Meanwhile, capital city prices saw quarterly growth of 5.2 per cent and annual growth of 17.5 per cent.

The lift in housing values is expected to continue for some time, but CoreLogic analysts believe barriers in the form of worsening affordability and a renewed focus on lending standards will eventually cause a slowdown in the market. 

For more information on property and lending trends, head over to our home loan statistics page. And if you’re in the market for a home loan, visit our home loan comparison page, or browse the selection below.

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