The Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast, the Southern Downs and Hervey Bay are the hotspots, according to the inaugural RAI-CBA Regional Movers Index.
Rather than being a curiosity of the quirks of the pandemic, the shift has significant implications for regional and city economies as well as house prices and infrastructure.
But the data also indicates people will only shift as far north as the Fraser Coast region. Anything north of that doesn’t get a mention in the report. That’s also the case for inland areas. The Southern Downs is about as far west as people will go.
The Regional Australia Institute chief executive Liz Ritchie said the index showed that the growth in regional areas was being caused not just by people in the cities moving to escape COVID-19 restrictions, but because people in the bush who normally shifted to the cities were deciding to stay.
Commonwealth Bank’s executive general manager for regional and agribusiness banking Grant Cairns said the figures showed the strength and appeal of regional Australia and the important role it would continue to play in Australia’s economic recovery.
“The index demonstrates how Australians formerly living in capital cities have embraced remote ways of working as an opportunity to experience what these areas have to offer, while those already in regional areas are finding reasons to stay,’’ Cairns said.
“I’m optimistic about what this growth means for regional Australia, as more people experience the liveability of our regional areas and embrace the associated work-life balance and affordability.”
The CBA data showed that movement out of capital cities declined by 11 per cent in the June 2020 quarter, reflecting the height of domestic restrictions across the country at that time.
Since then the trend has been a growing outflow of people from capital cities to regional areas.
The bank said the pandemic-driven acceleration of net regional migration indicated that those already in regional areas are finding reasons to stay while city dwellers were finding compelling reasons to relocate rather than stay in the various capitals.
“The Gold Coast is the most popular destination among people moving from capitals to regions,’’ the report said.
“The Glitter Strip welcomed 11 per cent of all capital city dwellers who moved to regional areas during the March 2021 quarter. The next most popular destinations were the Sunshine Coast, Greater Geelong, Wollongong and Newcastle.
“The Sunshine Coast recorded the largest growth in migration from capital cities compared with the other Top 5 LGAs. Migration to the Sunshine Coast grew by 24 per cent in the March 2021 quarter, and by 14 per cent over the year.’’