RAI report finds more people making the move to regional areas

Welcome: During the five years between the 2011 and 2016 Census, 1,191,859 people moved to a community or between communities in regional Australia. Photo: File
Welcome: During the five years between the 2011 and 2016 Census, 1,191,859 people moved to a community or between communities in regional Australia. Photo: File

A new report released last week has revealed that more people, especially millennial's, are choosing to call regional Australia home.

The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) report The Big Movers: Understanding Population Mobility in Regional Australia was released on June 23 and is based on data from the 2011 and 2016 Census.

The report found that during the five years between these two Census points, 1,191,859 people moved to a community or between communities in regional Australia.

Where people moved from a capital city to a regional area, they most often moved to the regional area of the jurisdiction in which they already lived.

Regional NSW was the third most popular destination for those leaving Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart.

Between 2011 and 2016, 146,962 millennial-aged people moved from capital cities to regional Australia and 207,510 millennial-aged people, moved between regional communities.

Ali van der Linden - Dubbo:

Ali van der Linden relocated to Dubbo five years ago from Sydney for a career and lifestyle change. Photo: Amy Mcintyre.

Ali van der Linden relocated to Dubbo five years ago from Sydney for a career and lifestyle change. Photo: Amy Mcintyre.

Ali van der Linden relocated to Dubbo five years ago from Sydney for a career opportunity with GrainCorp.

Not only was the move a deliberate choice for career progression, but she was also getting tired of living in Sydney, and having to deal with the work commute and expensive cost of living.

"With my role at GrainCorp I was lucky enough to travel extensively throughout regional Australia and so I already felt an affinity and familiarity with regional towns and communities, travelling between sites and silos of the eastern states," Ms van der Linden explained.

"I recognised the benefits and thought 'I could do this, I could live regionally.'"

Now currently working in regional development, Ms van der Linden said she is lucky to help support regional communities to thrive and flourish, not just in Dubbo, but across the state.

Some of the biggest things she loves about living and working in a regional area was the sense of community and convenient lifestyle.

"Everyone seems to know each other, people care about their community and want to support their community," Ms van der Linden explained.

The biggest difference she's noticed about living in a city compared to a regional community is affordability and cost of living.

"When I lived in Sydney I could only afford to rent a room in a share-house and the cost of living even for basic things like public transport to work and groceries was high," Ms van der Linden said.

"For marginally more per week, I now own my own home with a large garden right in town. I would never have been able to afford my own place had I stayed in Sydney, nor had much savings."

Her advice to others thinking of making the regional move was to take the plunge.

Plus to research town's that are high on the relocation list.

"Lastly, once you move, go to New Residents Evenings (usually coordinated by local Council) and meet other new residents, join a sport team, immerse yourself in your new home community so that you make friends and build up a support network, so you don't feel alone or isolated," Ms van der Linden added.

She said the hustle and bustle of city life with busy roads and constant traffic is also something that fades from your consciousness fairly quickly.

Barbara O'Farell - Wellington:

A Wellington resident has made the move back to a regional town after living in a city for 30 years.

The Big Movers report found the number of people moving to regions from regional areas (690,216 people) is greater than the number of people moving to regional areas from capital cities (501,643 people).

Barbara O'Farell was born and grew up in Dubbo before making the move to Casino with her family.

Ms O'Farell said she loved living in Casino, but wanted to be closer to her adult children who had moved back to the central west region to live in Dubbo and Orange.

"We always used to love coming back home. We classed Dubbo and the central west as home (even while living in Casino), it was the best place, a nice place," Ms O'Farell explained.

Ms O'Farell will celebrate living in Wellington for two years in October 2020.

"I've always loved Wellington," she said.

One of the best things about moving back to a regional town has been the quiet and the friendly people, Ms O'Farell said.

"People are more down to earth. Country people are different from city people," she said.

What the researchers say:

Dr Kim Houghton, from the RAI said from the report's statistics it is clear that people are voting with their feet.

"There's fewer people going to places like Cobar.... and way out west than, they are going to Dubbo and Tamworth, but interestingly there is still a flow of people through those quite remote places as well," he said.

Dr Houghton said it's different for people coming from cities to regional areas who are looking for the whole lifestyle package of lower cost of living, less commuting and more time with family.

"Plus picking up on the increasing diversity of jobs that are available in many parts of regional Australia, especially the larger regional centres and cities where job prospects are good," he said.

Another interesting factor in the report that stood out for Dr Houghton was that young people are choosing to move to a regional area rather than move to a city.

"It does help to re-frame that thinking around what does a town have to do to survive," Dr Houghton said.

"It clearly doesn't have to stop all the young people leaving, it can expect a flow through of young people from other places.

"About 30 per cent of those young people who do leave tend to go back to the same place after some time.

"The message for regional leaders is don't get too worried about young people leaving, I think your job as a regional leader is to make sure the place that you're leading is attractive and vibrant enough so when they do have that thought about going back home it's an easy answer for them."