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Australians on the move: seeking relief from the cost of living crunch


As living expenses continue to escalate, increasing numbers of Australians are packing their bags in pursuit of a more affordable life, according to the latest insights from Muval’s 2023 Index. This comprehensive national report charts a notable shift in the nation’s moving habits, with financial pressures taking the lead as a key motivator for relocation.

Dramatic findings in the Muval report indicate that the quest to ease the strain of the cost of living accounted for 35% of moves in 2023, which is a striking rise from the mere 11% recorded in the previous year. “Over the past 12 months we’ve seen a dramatic increase in both interest rates and rents throughout the country – we’re now sitting at a 12-year high for rates, and rents have skyrocketed to record amounts in recent months. Many Australians have hit the end of the road and with no buffer left, they have no choice but to make a big change as they seek out more affordable options,” said Muval Chief Executive Officer James Morrell.

Individuals are not just seeking cheaper dwellings but also eyeing better-paying job prospects, with 29% citing employment reasons coupled with a desire for higher income. Surging rents and mortgage rates have prompted almost double the typical annual relocation rate, with a significant impact on younger demographics, particularly those in Victoria facing the dual challenges of escalating rents and rates.

The majority of moves, about 64%, have seen Australians remain within the same city, though a considerable proportion, 22%, is opting for intercity migration, and 9% has gone as far as crossing state lines. The most poignant reflection of the current housing affordability dilemma is the uptick in ‘couch surfing,’ a trend that has predominantly affected young Australians between 18 and 34 years of age.

Queenslanders have shown the most home-state loyalty, with 80% staying within the same city despite financial motivations. Conversely, Western Australians have displayed a propensity to leave their state in search of better opportunities.

The rental market has hit a critical juncture with a significant 11% of those surveyed jumping into homeownership following rental increases. This switch, largely occurring in the last two years, featured a noteworthy participation of middle-aged Australians.

As Australians ponder their new year’s resolutions for 2024, reigning supreme is the desire to shrink living costs, yearning for a more accessible lifestyle and affordable housing, with a whopping 25% of Australians prepared to relocate for a $50,000 salary boost.


Morrell adds, “What a difference a year makes. This time last year Australians were moving to upgrade their home, and this year moves are based on one thing – affordability. The 2023 Muval Index shows how much inflationary pressures have changed Australians’ outlook in the space of a year and what they are having to do to keep a roof over their head.”

By compiling data from a nationally representative survey and Muval’s own removalist booking figures, backed by validation from The University of Queensland, the 2023 Muval Index offers a predictive glimpse into future residential trends as Australians respond to the economic pressures of the times. The ‘great money migration,’ as termed by Morrell, seems set to continue well into 2024 as affordability becomes increasingly central to the decision to move.

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