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Regional relocators choose inland hotspots over beachside towns

By Orana Durney-Benson
22 November 2023 | 14 minute read
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Trees trump sea as Australians increasingly seek out inland rural locations to call home.

Hotspotting’s Exodus to Lifestyle – National Top 10 report has revealed that coastal locations are increasingly falling out of favour for Australians seeking a lifestyle change, with affordability concerns driving many to look inland.

Of the 10 locations that the report identified as prime lifestyle investment hotspots for the next six months, eight are located in inland rural areas. Only two of these destinations are situated near the coast.

While all major states are represented, Hotspotting director Terry Ryder noted that NSW and Victoria are losing popularity.

“Western Australia and Queensland continue to be national leaders in price growth, while the two biggest states on population – NSW and Victoria – continue to lose population through internal migration,” he stated.

In fact, general manager Tim Graham observed that internal migration away from Sydney and Melbourne meant that growth rates in these two famously expensive cities have remained lower than expected, despite a steady stream of overseas immigration to the two capitals.

“Queensland and WA are the biggest recipients of this internal migration, and it’s why these two states have such consistently strong population growth,” Mr Graham explained.

According to CoreLogic, the strongest population growth areas are in regional cities within easy reach of a state capital city.

“The exodus to affordable lifestyle trend continues and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future, as more and more Australians seek to escape the big, congested, expensive cities, and find a better lifestyle in more affordable and relaxed locations,” Mr Ryder concluded.

Here are Hotspotting’s top 10 affordable lifestyle locations across Australia.

1. Tamworth, NSW

Tamworth, of country music festival fame, is the only NSW hub to make its way into Hotspotting’s top 10.

According to Mr Ryder, Tamworth’s affordability, infrastructure and job opportunities have made it a significant growth area.

“Its strong economy, driven by industries such as agriculture and mining, is bolstered by the development of a new intermodal freight hub and plans for a university campus,” Mr Ryder stated.

With a low vacancy rate and high rental yields – particularly for units – he said that Tamworth is “well-positioned to accommodate the growing trend of people moving from big cities in search of more adorable housing and a better quality of life”.

2. Shepparton, Vic

Located two hours north of Melbourne in the heart of Victoria’s food bowl, Shepparton is “the commercial and manufacturing hub of the Goulburn Valley region”, according to Hotspotting.

Mr Graham reported that Shepparton produces 25 per cent of all Victorian agricultural products, is currently investing $2 billion in transport upgrades, and is transforming itself into a renewable energy hub with multiple solar farms.

“This is creating job opportunities and contributing to its economic growth,” Mr Graham stated.

He added: “Shepparton also offers affordable real estate and low vacancy rates, making it a favourable destination for investors.”

3. Yeppoon, Qld

Up in coastal North Queensland, the town of Yeppoon is “predicted to be a top beneficiary of the long-term trend of people moving to lifestyle regions”, according to Mr Ryder.

Its proximity to Rockhampton, its thriving agricultural and tourism economy, and its good transport links mean that Yeppoon “offers plentiful employment opportunities and a calm seaside lifestyle”.

Despite the town’s popularity – and its proximity to the southern Great Barrier Reef – Mr Ryder reported that “median house prices in Yeppoon and nearby suburbs remain affordable at around $500,000 to $600,000”.

4. Gladstone, Qld

Despite its turbulent past, the regional Queensland town of Gladstone is on the up, according to Mr Graham.

He revealed that vacancy rates have decreased, and both rent and sale prices have increased, even as many other areas of Australia have witnessed declining property markets.

“Gladstone is one of the most desirable destinations for people moving within Australia,” he stated.

With a strong presence in heavy industry, manufacturing, construction and clean energy – and the added bonus of its own airport – he shared that “Gladstone is well-positioned for continued growth”.

5. Toowoomba, Qld

Mr Ryder tipped Toowoomba as a rapidly developing regional city, with the 2032 Brisbane Olympics set to put Toowoomba on the international stage.

“With a strong economy, low vacancies and solid yields, Toowoomba is a prime destination for those looking to invest in the property market,” Mr Ryder said.

As well as Olympics infrastructure, Toowoomba benefits from a privately developed airport, over $32 billion of transport funding, good health and education facilities, and affordable housing rates.

“As the city continues to grow and thrive, it remains a key player in shaping Australia’s future economic landscape,” said Mr Ryder.

6. Lockyer Valley, Qld

The fourth Queensland destination to hit the report’s top 10, Lockyer Valley is home to a diverse fruit and vegetable industry, leading some to dub it as Australia’s salad bowl.

“Aside from agriculture, the region is also home to light industry, a university campus, and serves as the gateway to the Surat Basin mining precinct and a growing renewable energy sector,” Mr Graham reported.

According to Mr Graham, the Lockyer Valley is projected to experience a 40 per cent population increase by 2041.

“It is a promising region with opportunities for both residents and businesses,” he stated.

7. Mount Gambier, SA

Heading down south, Mr Ryder tipped Mount Gambier as “a highly desirable regional centre in South Australia for property investment due to its affordable housing, lifestyle opportunities and strong employment growth”.

A booming forestry industry – including plans for a forestry research centre – is one of the region’s major drawcards.

“The town has also seen an influx of lifestyle and intrastate residents, attracted by the affordable housing and more relaxed lifestyle,” Mr Ryder noted.

“With a median house price of $376,000 and rental yields above 5 per cent, Mount Gambier is a promising location for property investors, he concluded.

8. Murray Bridge, SA

Murray Bridge is the regional centre for Murraylands and a “sought-after destination for water activities”, features which Mr Graham noted have made the town a favoured area for investors.

He shared that in the past, Murray Bridge had an “image problem” with investors tending to seek out properties in Adelaide Hills instead.

“However, with ongoing revitalisation of leisure areas and new residential developments, the area is undergoing a positive transformation,” he asserted.

With Adelaide less than an hour’s drive away and a median house price in the mid-$300,000s, Mr Graham stated that Murray Bridge is an attractive choice for first home buyers.

“For investors, the low vacancy rate of just 0.5 per cent, which has been consistently under 1 per cent since April 2020, adds to the appeal of investing in the region,” he said.

9. Geraldton, WA

For those who have their sights set on Western Australia, Geraldton could be a strong contender.

According to Mr Ryder, “research by Curtin and Monash universities has shown that 17 of the top 50 suburbs in Western Australia for value growth are located in the Geraldton region”.

He also noted that Canstar recently named Geraldton as one of the top five most affordable locations in regional Western Australia.

Despite being the only city on the Coral Coast, and within close proximity of Perth, “housing prices in Geraldton remain significantly lower than in other regions, with the average price for a house being around $300,000”.

The city is also attractive to a wide range of demographics, with both young families and retirees on the rise in the Geraldton municipal area.

10. Mandurah, WA

“While the rest of Perth has experienced economic disruption and downturn, the property market in Mandurah has remained resilient and continues to grow,” said Mr Graham.

He identified several factors behind the area’s success: increased demand from first home buyers, population growth from sea changers, affordable land and proximity to jobs.

“With strong population growth, the demand for residential properties is expected to remain high for at least 15 years,” Mr Graham revealed.

“Overall, the continued revival of Mandurah’s property market is a promising sign for the region’s economic future.”

Regional relocators choose inland hotspots over beachside towns
tamworth NSW aerial reb yhsyjx
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