Housing squeeze forces region-to-region migration

The Sunshine Coast region is attracting an influx of regional migrants.

The Sunshine Coast region is attracting an influx of regional migrants. Photo: AAP

Regional Australians are moving further away from capital cities, likely pushed out of some country areas by the housing squeeze and soaring rents, a new report says.

The Regional Movers Index report shows movement between regional areas rose in 2022, averaging eight per cent higher than the two years before the pandemic.

Region-to-region migration increased by 2.2 per cent in the December quarter, the second highest level since the pandemic began.

The Index, a quarterly report by the Commonwealth Bank and the Regional Australia Institute, said the increase was down to post-pandemic housing market disruption.

“These disruptions are affecting housing and rental affordability, particularly for low-income regional dwellers previously able to access and afford housing,” the report said.

“Part of the increase in inter-regional migration is likely reflecting people searching for and relocating to other places where housing is more available and affordable.”

The most popular regions for country Australians to move to were Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, along with Maitland, NSW.

The areas that experienced the largest growth in residents from other regions were Ballarat in Victoria, Townsville, Rockhampton and Gladstone in Queensland and South Australia’s Murray Bridge.

Commonwealth Bank’s head of regional and agribusiness banking Paul Fowler said while housing accessibility may be pushing country residents to other regions, the strong labour market was a “pull factor”.

“The number of job vacancies in regional Australia are still at record highs,” Mr Fowler told AAP.

“For most skills and occupations, if there’s a desire to move to another LGA, there is an opportunity to find prosperous employment there.”

Australians continued to move from the cities to the country throughout last year as net internal migration jumped 100 per cent or more in 13 regions, particularly in regional Queensland and Victoria.

“The areas experiencing significant net migration increases would certainly be feeling the impact on house prices and rents, local services and infrastructure,” the institute’s chief executive Liz Ritchie said.

“For that reason, policy makers, industry and regional leaders need to heed these results, to ensure adequate planning and resourcing is put in place to accommodate demand both now and in coming decades.”


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