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Sunshine Coast still king as jobs, cheaper housing lure young to regional hotspots


The big shift to the Sunshine Coast has continued with the region maintaining its position as the top local government area for internal migration, but a new report has shown the younger generation is more likely to be escaping the cities.

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The Regional Australia Institute/CBA report said it was the fourth consecutive quarter the coast had topped internal migration charts, accounting for 16.7 per cent of all net internal migration. The majority were escaping the cities, mostly Brisbane.

Greater Geelong and the Gold Coast were second and third and the Fraser Coast fourth.

RAI said the Gold Coast’s growth was reliant on city movers.

It said the Millennial generation was the demographic most likely to make the move out of the city.

But the people who are moving are looking further north. Mackay, the Whitsundays and the Douglas Shire have become hotspots.

Also, regional NSW was now attracting 39 per cent of those moving out of the cities.

In comparison, regional Queensland now accounts for 33 per cent while regional Victoria is gaining 21 per cent of movers.

By far the biggest move is coming from people who once called Sydney home.

The Commonwealth Bank’s Paul Fowler said regional centres like the Sunshine Coast were “buzzing with business activity and investment”.

He said the attraction of the regions was cheaper housing and cost of living with less traffic congestions and strong community links.

“For city dwellers making the move, they were increasingly drawn to some of the far reaches of Australia, with the latest data showing the LGAs with the highest annual growth rates (in net capital-regional migration) emerging in the northern reaches of Queensland and in a remote pocket of South Australia,” he said.

“Douglas in far north Queensland recorded a two-fold increase in net inflows from the capitals at 95.5 per cent, with a quarterly growth rate of 12.3 per cent, while growth in Ceduna in South Australia was up by 59.5 per cent. Douglas lured most of its movers from other states and almost 60 per cent were millennials, compared to just 15 per cent of retirees.

RAI chief executive Liz Ritchie said of all the people who left cities for the regions in the past year, 80 per cent came from Sydney.

“In the 12 months to September 2022, it was just over 60 per cent. It suggests that the bigger our cities get, the stronger the draw to our wonderful regions becomes,” Ritchie said.

She said the data showed Australia continued to have a highly mobile population, with the overall number of movers this quarter, at its third highest level since March 2018.

“RMI data is repeatedly showing the exodus of people from capital cities wasn’t a short-lived phenomenon due to pandemic lockdowns, with capital to regional migration levels currently 11.7 per cent above the pre-Covid (2018 and 2019) average,” Ritchie said.

The flow of people moving to regional parts of the country was aided by strong job vacancies. More than 91,000 regional jobs were advertised in September.


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