melbourne is australias most popular city to move to
All aboard to Melbourne, as the city remains the most popular city to move to. Image: Canva.
  • Brisbane came second, followed by Perth
  • "Mass exodus" from Sydney continues
  • Perth remains leader for positive net migration

The latest data from national removalist booking platform Muval has revealed Australians are continuing their exodus from Sydney, looking strongly in favour of Melbourne.

Inbound enquiries show the laneway capital remains streets ahead of the rest

According to the platform, Melbourne was the most popular city to move to in 2022, with the February figures showing the city accounted for the most eyeballs. 28% of all major metro inbound moving enquiries were for Melbourne. This is an increase from last January when Melbourne accounted for 24%.

Brisbane took second place with 21% of inbound enquiries, Perth was third with 18%, Sydney was 17%, and Adelaide was 9%.

Adelaide’s inbound migration is a slight improvement, up from 8% last month, but down from the 11% seen through most of last year.

Perth averaged around 19% last year, slightly higher than the latest figure of 18%.

Sydney’s inbound figures were slightly higher, the latest showing 17% between December and February, up from the 2022 low of 14% seen in April. Muval said ‘moving season’ (meaning the busiest time to move in Australia) is typically between November and March.

Finally, Brisbane saw figures dip to 21% from 24% last February. While it took second place, the report noted Brisbane was neck and neck with Perth as the place to move to throughout 2022. ). The inbound traffic is no longer coming from Melbourne (when thousands headed north during the pandemic), but mostly from Sydney.

Outbound and net migration

The report found that Melbourne recorded the lowest level of outbound enquiries in three years, at 27%. It was also found that Melbourne is nearing positive net migration again, with net migration to Melbourne going from -16% in December to -8% in February. The city last had a positive net migration of +3% in January 2020, according to Muval.

Adelaide recorded 9% of outbound enquiries, with the report noting the city of churches was going through its seventh straight month of negative net migration. While it is going through negative net migration, the numbers show some slowing, December recorded -23%, while January saw -18% and February -11%. Muval said that the levels of outbound enquiry were in line with the second half of 2022, “suggesting the negative net migration is being driven by a lack of interest to move to Adelaide rather than a mass exodus out of the city. This may change as more people go in search of affordable housing close to a CBD.”

The western capital recorded an 8% outbound enquiry and has consistently done so since October. Muval data shows that Perth is the ‘standout’ city for positive net migration, with Darwin second at +13%. The data for February showed +95% for Perth, with a 2021 pandemic high of +181% and a 2022 peak of +149%.

Sydney continues to see swathes of people looking to leave the city that harbours sky-high property prices and living costs. Outbound moving enquiries were consistently above 30% in 2022, with the latest data showing 33%. Negative net migration is at -54%, the report said it was in line with the -50% to -60% seen throughout last year.

Finally, Brisbane saw outbound enquiries at 18%, a figure last seen at the start of Covid in March 2020. Muval said: “… Brisbane’s pandemic boom appears to be well and truly over, with rising house prices and cost of living pressures forcing people out of the city.” According to the platform’s data, Brisbane is being affected by intrastate moves with an uptick in moves to regional Queensland towns and cities.

Negative net migration is on the horizon for Brisbane, with figures dropping from+32% in December to +14% in January and +3% in February. Last February, positive net migration was recorded at 64%.

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