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Regional movers at highest level since 2018

The level of movement of capital city dwellers to regional areas is at a three-year high, while net regional migration in the latest quarter is 66 per cent higher than a year ago, according to research.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has released its Regional Movers Index in partnership with the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), which has shown the changes in population flows from capital cities to regional areas.

The index has revealed that the number of people who moved from capital cities to regional areas jumped by 7 per cent in the March 2021 quarter compared with the March 2020 quarter.

The latest level of population movement is at its highest since early 2018, according to the index.

Capital cities in NSW and Victoria saw the largest net migration outflows at 49.5 per cent and 46.4 per cent, respectively, with regional NSW and regional Queensland the main beneficiaries of the Sydney-Melbourne migration, followed by regional Victoria.

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Furthermore, the index revealed that residents moving from capital cities to regional areas increased their share of overall movements during the March 2021 quarter, with this group accounting for 6.3 per cent of all movers, up 0.7 percentage points from a year earlier.

In the same period, all other forms of internal migration (regional to regional, capital to capital, regional to capital) shrank, the report said.

Movement out of capital cities dipped by 11.0 per cent in the June 2020 quarter, reflecting the peak of domestic restrictions across Australia during that period to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

Since then, there has been a trend of a growing outflow of residents from capital cities to regional areas, the report stated.

The index also showed that residents in regional areas have remained there, accounting for a declining share of total internal movements (down by 0.2 percentage points over the year), leading to an increase in net migration into regional areas.

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“The pandemic-driven acceleration of net regional migration indicates that those already in regional areas are finding reasons to stay while city dwellers are finding compelling reasons to relocate rather than stay in the various capitals,” the report said.

“These dynamics have driven the net regional migration index in the latest quarter to be 66 per cent higher than a year earlier.”

The Gold Coast is the most popular destination among those moving to the regions, with 11 per cent of capital city dwellers who moved to regional areas choosing to move there during the March 2021 quarter.

This was followed by the Sunshine Coast, Greater Geelong, Wollongong and Newcastle.

The Greater Geelong areas saw a 10 per cent annual growth, and 9 per cent quarterly growth to March 2021, while Wollongong and Newcastle in NSW saw 8 per cent and 7 per cent year-on-year growth, respectively.

The Sunshine Coast saw the largest growth in migration from capital cities compared with the other top five local government areas (LGAs), with migration growing by 24 per cent in the March 2021 quarter, and by 14 per cent over the year, the index showed.

Meanwhile, the top five LGAs with the largest annual growth in capital city migration are Noosa (49 per cent) and Southern Downs (44 per cent) in Queensland, NSW’s Port Macquarie-Hastings (38 per cent), Tasmania’s Launceston (34 peer cent) and Queensland’s Fraser Coast (26 per cent).

Indeed, Launceston’s migration almost doubled in the March 2021 quarter, with migration increasing by 88 per cent, the research revealed.

Commenting on the index findings, CBA’s executive general manager for regional and agribusiness banking, Grant Cairns, said: “The index demonstrates how Australians formerly living in capital cities have embraced remote ways of working as an opportunity to experience what these areas have to offer, while those already in regional areas are finding reasons to stay.”

“I’m optimistic about what this growth means for regional Australia, as more people experience the liveability of our regional areas and embrace the associated work/life balance and affordability.”

Regional Australia Institute CEO Liz Ritchie said: “This new Regional Movers Index will provide vital and timely data intelligence on emerging growth hotspots around the country, allowing government, industry and communities to act more quickly on issues such as housing and infrastructure.”

FHB lending hit record high in April: NAB

Data from the National Australia Bank (NAB) has revealed that lending to first home buyers (FHBs) hit a new record high in April 2021, while FHB activity in regional Australia surged compared with last year.

NAB’s lending to FHBs surged 67 per cent in the first four months of 2021 on the corresponding period last year, with April the peak month. It also rose by 9 per cent against the final four months of 2020.

Regional areas across Australia recorded an 84 per cent spike in FHB activity compared with a year ago, while activity in metro areas rose by 65 per cent.

On the other hand, there was a 4 per cent dip in regional FHB activity from January to April 2021 compared with September to December 2020, while FHB activity in metro areas rose by 13 per cent, NAB data showed.

Commenting on the figures, NAB executive, home ownership, Andy Kerr said: “First-time buyers appear to be responding to price changes as our list of hotspots has changed significantly from December, with only five postcodes Australia-wide on both lists.

“It’s been interesting to see activity slow in regional areas from the final few months of last year, but over a 12-month period, it’s clear the sea and tree change has been incredibly popular for first-time buyers.”

Victoria was at the forefront, with FHB activity up 26 per cent between January and April 2021 compared with the final four months of 2020.

Activity dropped by 4 per cent in NSW/ACT during this period, making it the only region to see a decline during this period.

However, compared with the corresponding period last year, activity jumped by 76 per cent between January and April 2021 in NSW/ACT.

Queensland and Western Australia lead the states and territories on a year-on-year basis, with lending growth to FHBs exceeding 90 per cent, NAB data revealed.

NAB’s figures have been released as the major bank has begun accepting applications for places in the next round of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme ahead of the 1 July 2021 release date.

“The level of first home buyer activity has been like nothing we’ve seen in a generation,” Mr Kerr said.

“Record-low interest rates and government incentives continue to support demand, and it’s been great to hear stories of some customers purchasing their first home earlier than expected.

“However, we also recognise rising house prices are creating a challenge for some Australians as supply levels remain below average.”

[Related: WA FHB loans doubled through pandemic]

Regional movers at highest level since 2018
Regional movers at highest level since 2018
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Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.

Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.

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