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Millennials drive resurgence in regional relocation as housing affordability bites, index shows

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The latest Regional Movers Index, a partnership between the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), has revealed a significant increase in internal migration across the nation in the first three months of the year. The index, which tracks quarterly and annual trends in people moving to and from Australia’s regional areas, shows that the number of city dwellers choosing to leave major metropolitan centres is at its highest level in 12 months.

Despite a lull in 2023, regional moving is back on Australians’ radar, with the regions recording their fifth biggest quarter of influx from city residents in the last six years. The index reveals that there are 24% more people moving from the city to regions than vice versa.

RAI CEO Liz Ritchie commented, “People are voting with their feet and making a very conscious decision to live in regional Australia. While the pandemic supercharged this movement, the regional lifestyle is continuing to prove highly desirable for thousands of people, especially those from cities.”

With a severe housing shortage across the country and prices in capitals increasing at a faster pace than in non-metro areas, much of the latest wave in regional relocations can be attributed to Australians seeking out more affordable lifestyles. Analysis of the quarter’s data reveals that Millennials are driving this trend, fleeing the major capitals in the greatest numbers.

Paul Fowler, regional executive general manager at the Commonwealth Bank, noted that Millennial movers are showing a clear preference for larger regional centres where the cost of living is lower but that also offer ample employment opportunities. “This quarter’s report paints the picture of younger individuals or younger families looking for somewhere that’s more affordable,” he said.

Ritchie agreed, stating, “With high house prices and cost-of-living pressures biting, many people are realising the regions can offer the lifestyle they want and the jobs they’re after, minus big city problems – like long commute times, tolls and traffic.”

The RAI emphasizes that the data from this last quarter should serve as a call to action for policymakers and anyone who has attributed interest in the regions as a temporary blip. Ritchie stressed, “This movement in population can no longer be seen as a quirky flow-on effect from the lockdown years. A societal shift is underway. This sustained trend provides tangible evidence regarding the importance of investing in and supporting the regions, to ensure communities have the services, skills and infrastructure they need for their growing populations.”

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The resurgence in regional relocation, led by Millennials seeking more affordable lifestyles, highlights the need for continued investment and support in regional areas to accommodate the growing population and ensure the availability of necessary services and infrastructure.

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