Is Australia’s newfound love for regional areas, a fleeting thing?
More space, working from home and affordability have successfully tempted property buyers to Australia’s regional areas, fuelling a surge in property values and drastically reducing selling times. But this is in fact, not a new thing.
In Australia we move a lot. Australia has one of the most internally mobile populations in the world. About 40% of the population change their addresses at least once within a five-year period. However, the level of internal migration within Australia has fallen since the 1990’s.
An increase or decrease in internal migration from year to year is not unusual.
Population churn is part of the rhythm of these global cities. The data also reveals that, on average, regional Australia has been gaining population for many years – decades actually. Moving to regional Australia is not new.
The past two year’s COVID-19 restrictions closed Australia’s borders to the previously large numbers of international migrants. Without these international migrants moving to capital cities, the long-term trend of people relocating to urban areas around major cities has become more apparent.
It seemed like a good idea in lockdown, but is moving to a regional area right for you?
Outside of capital cities are a whole range of different community types. They range from expansive city areas such as the Gold Coast and Geelong through to tiny agricultural and fishing hamlets.
The fastest growing areas outside capital cities are those that offer sophisticated urban settings. They have diverse employment options and high-order social, education and healthcare infrastructure. So when people leave a capital city, more often than not they are still moving to a large city. The only downfall may be a lack of diverse local employment options.
So, is there really a major pandemic-related exodus?
The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting the way we live our lives but, no, there is not a mass exodus from Australia’s capital cities. For some, pandemic-related disruptions might have just heightened their dissatisfaction with where they live. For others, working from home might have provided them with the opportunity to consider alternative living arrangements. However, right now, given the data it is unlikely that COVID-19 is driving a major shift away from capital cities or city lifestyles.
The key drivers for performance in the regions will come down to higher interest rates and affordability constraints, the same hurdles that capital city markets are facing. Regions have an additional factor to contend with and that is the possibility of a return to ‘normality’ and what that means for a potential refocus on cities.
Employers may make a return to physical office space a priority in the years ahead, which would necessitate buyers to reconsider housing options closer to a capital city.
However, this scenario seems less likely and more long-term than the arrival of the Omicron variant, which in many ways reinforced that this is an ongoing health crisis, and it seems Australians have prioritised their current housing needs to align with their desired lifestyle.