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The ‘lure of regional living’ remains strong, data shows

By Orana Durney-Benson
29 February 2024 | 10 minute read
sydney sunshine coast reb wg10aw

Residents of Australia’s capital cities are fleeing the big smoke for greener pastures, with regional migration at its highest level in over 12 months.

The latest Regional Movers Index report for the December 2023 quarter has revealed that internal migration from cities to regions remains well above pre-pandemic levels.

Over the past three months, net internal migration to the regions rose by 4.6 per cent, and 24.9 per cent more people moved from the city to the regions than the other way around.

Liz Ritchie, CEO of the Regional Australia Institute, explained that regional Australia “offers something more for many people, especially those from big cities”.

“This shift, away from capital city living, has been underway now for a decade. It was definitely supercharged by COVID, but this data proves the regions are still very desirable for a significant proportion of the population,” Ms Ritchie said.

According to the report, the most coveted region for movers over the December 2023 quarter was the Sunshine Coast, with the Gold Coast following hot on its heels.

A significant 17.5 per cent of all internal migrants made tracks for the Sunshine Coast, a 12.5 per cent increase on the same time the year prior.

Paul Fowler, executive general manager for regional and agribusiness banking at Commonwealth Bank, explained that the flood of newcomers bodes well for the south-east Queensland economy.


“A skilled and diverse labour supply is one of the most critical inputs for any economy and Sunshine Coast businesses across a wide range of sectors are taking advantage of the growth in people coming to the area, moving at pace to explore new and innovative opportunities,” Mr Fowler said.

While Queensland topped the list of popular destinations, it was Western Australia that saw the most substantial growth in regional internal migration.

Boddington, Bridgetown-Greenbushes and Greater Geraldton all made their way into the top five growth hotspots across Australia.

Ms Ritchie revealed that younger movers were driving the West Coast migration trend, stating: “In the last 12 months the Shire of Boddington has seen a 219 per cent increase in net internal migration – with more than 70 per cent of the movers made up of Millennials and Gen Xers, and almost all of those relocating to the area from Perth.”

“Metro movers have developed a definite sweet spot for regions in the west,” Ms Ritchie said.

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