City buyers ditch plans to stay close to the office

CITY MOVE: Harcourts Horsham agent Tim Coller has sold St John's Church three times, this time most of the demand came from Melbourne, and ended up with a city owner.

CITY MOVE: Harcourts Horsham agent Tim Coller has sold St John's Church three times, this time most of the demand came from Melbourne, and ended up with a city owner.

City residents fleeing pandemic lockdowns for a better life in the country are moving further afield.

Where the city folk once wanted to stay within commuting distance in case they were called back to the office, they have abandoned that obstacle.

It is also a fact most of the available properties within that hour of the city have already been snapped up.

New data released today shows the rush to regional Australia is still a thing but now the demand spike is within a three hour drive of the capital cities.

This new information from the Commonwealth Bank and the Regional Australia Institute shows the city exodus is only being held up by the lack of properties.

According to the June quarter Regional Movers Index released today, there was an 11 per cent rise in the number of people moving from capital cities to regional areas compared with the June 2020 quarter.

That research shows the local government areas recording the largest growth in metro-movers over the past year, were all located within a three-hour drive from Melbourne a capital city that has endured the nations longest COVID-19 related lockdowns.

Consider a church at Natimuk which sold last month after a flood of inquiries from the city.

St John's Catholic Church eventually sold to a Melbourne man.

Remarkably, Natimuk is about four hours from Melbourne.

The Victorian-based areas enjoying the biggest spike in population growth included: Moorabool (68pc), Mansfield (62pc) and Corangamite (52pc).

The Murray River area, located in NSW, was next in line (48pc), followed by Alpine in Victoria (47pc).

Victorias Greater Geelong area located one hour outside of Melbournes CBD also saw an influx in capital city movers, with an increase of 26pc during the full year to June 2021.

Commonwealth Banks executive general manager (regional and agribusiness banking) Grant Cairns said: With house prices rising across the capital cities and flexible work options now more commonplace, the decision to make a lifestyle shift and move to a regional area has become a realistic option."

Graphic: CBA.

Graphic: CBA.

The experience of lockdowns is front of mind for Victorians, so the desire to seek a tree change is rapidly growing. It is positive to see the development of infrastructure - particularly in regional areas is growing to meet the increased demand.

According to the Regional Movers Index, approvals for new housing in Geelong were 48pc higher in 2020/21 in comparison to the previous year.

This rise in residential developments has come at the same time as a surge in the number of building projects and industrial developments currently underway, including new offices, hotels and education facilities.

RAIs chief economist Dr Kim Houghton said: The index identifies regional areas which are emerging as desirable destinations for capital city residents, enabling local leaders and business owners to prepare for a burst of population growth.

"It also shows us places that are coming off the boil in the June quarter, such as Noosa (Qld) and Mildura (Vic).

We can also see that the number of regional residents choosing to stay put has increased, which is likely to be contributing to the housing squeeze in some areas, Dr Houghton said.

Key migration patterns by state in 2020/21:

  • Melbourne saw its share of net capital city outflows increase to 47pc, from 39pc a year earlier;
  • Sydney still had the highest share of net capital city outflows at 49pc and regional NSW picked up the largest share of net migration into regional Australia (34pc);
  • Regional Queenslands share of net migrants from capital cities grew to 28pc, while the shares of both regional NSW and regional Victoria shrank;
  • Tasmania and South Australia each saw an increase in regional settlement with a 4pc and 6pc share, respectively; and
  • Perth was the only capital to see more people moving into the city than leaving, while regional WAs share of net regional migration rose to 3pc from one per cent a year earlier.

The information is based on CBA customer address changes over the past five years, and addresses resided in for at least six months, plus extra data from the ABS.