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1 in 10 Australians relocated due to COVID-19

Nearly 10 per cent of movers relocated due to the pandemic, with a fifth of Victorians moving to avoid lockdowns, according to NAB.

Roughly one out of every 10 Australians either permanently relocated within their own state/territory or moved over borders due to COVID-19, according to new findings released by National Australia Bank (NAB). 

The data, which is based on the responses of 2,000 people across the country, collated the priorities that have become important to Australian home buyers since the start of the pandemic. 

When releasing the results on Monday (21 November), NAB noted that the combination of access to “good local shopping”, restaurants and other amenities (53 per cent), as well as the size of property (47 per cent), were “important considerations” to roughly half of the respondents, while 18 per cent stated that either “a study or work area” or “living in a regional area” were also key decision factors.  

However, the findings add that close to 7 per cent of all respondents moved within their state or territory and plan to stay where they are now based, specifically because of COVID-19.

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Furthermore, an additional 2 per cent said that they moved interstate and currently intended to remain where they are now for the same reason.

The data also found that 8 per cent expressed that “they had not yet moved”, with 5 per cent planning to move internally within their own state or territory and 3 per cent stating they are intending to relocate interstate. 

Out of those who did relocate, the majority response (42 per cent) was for lifestyle reasons, while 31 per cent moved for their or their family’s wellbeing, 29 per cent relocated for employment and roughly one in four (26 per cent) expressed it was to be closer to family and friends. 

However, 15 per cent said they relocated as a means to avoid “other COVID-19 restrictions”, while a further 15 per cent moved as a means to avoid COVID-19 lockdowns. 

By state, Western Australia (17 per cent) and South Australia (23 per cent) reported higher averages for those avoiding other COVID-19 restrictions, while one in every five Victorian respondents who relocated said it was a means to avoid lockdowns – the highest percentage by state in the country.

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Speaking of these results, NAB executive home ownership Andy Kerr said that he believed this data reflected how COVID-19 has fundamentally impacted how Australians purchase homes.

“The pandemic has impacted the lives of millions of Australians, particularly with how and where they want to live. What we have seen as a result is flexible working providing opportunities for people to live wherever they like and still work from home,” Mr Kerr said.

“Without the daily commute, people are looking at the suburbs that haven’t been available in the past as a viable option to actually own a piece of land and build a house.

“Australians also clearly value lifestyle choices, having that work-life balance and being closer to family. Many of us want to live near a café or supermarket, be able to drop the kids off at school and have access to trains or trams.

“Australians have embraced flexible working during the past 18 months of the pandemic where you don’t need to be in a city office five days a week.”

The major bank’s research complements additional findings that suggest more Australians are relocating, gravitating specifically towards the outer suburbs or regional markets.

Late last month (30 October), NAB published its findings that suggested the number of first home buyers settling in outer suburbs had increased by 77 per cent when compared to figures from 2020. 

Around this same time, Regional Australia Institute (RAI) and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) published its Regional Movers Index where it reported that, over a period of 12 months, the overall population flow to regional areas increased by 3 per cent.

According to this latest index, residents of Melbourne and Sydney accounted for 95 per cent of all net outflows from a capital city to a regional area. 

The mass exodus echoes data published by Moody’s in late October, which asserted that, in both of these capital cities, the share of income borrowers required for repayments on new mortgages was lower than its averages for the last decade. 

[Related: House price growth to fall in 2023: ANZ Research]

1 in 10 Australians relocated due to COVID-19
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Sam Nichols

Sam Nichols is a journalist at The Adviser and Mortgage Business. His reporting has featured in a range of outlets including ABC News, SBS' The Feed, and VICE.

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