Gold Coast top migration
The Regional Movers Index report has revealed Millennials to be the driving force behind regional growth, as more relocate from capital cities. Image – Canva
  • Millennials found to be driving force behind regional growth, accounting for highest proportion of capital-to-regional movers
  • Younger people a welcome addition to regional communities, bringing skills and community involvement says Liz Ritchie
  • Ceduna, Mt Gambier and Port Augusta named three fastest growing areas, contributing to SA's housing shortage

New research has indicated millennials are the generation driving the most growth in Australia’s regional areas.

The March quarter Regional Movers Index report, a collaboration between Commonwealth Bank and the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), found younger people are leaving capital cities in pursuit of regional living.

This most recent report marks the first time not only population movement has been tracked, with the report now also providing insight into the demographics of migrators.

The results show our younger generations, namely Millennials and Gen-Xers, have accounted for the largest proportion of movers to the highest growth regional areas in the past year.

Levels of migration to regional areas rose by 16.6% in the March quarter, representing a new five-year high.

Younger generations welcomed to regional living

According to Regional Australia Institute (RAI) Chief Executive Officer Liz Ritchie, Millennials and Gen-Xers are welcome additions to any regional community.

These generations can offer regional communities the business skills to help the local area grow, as well as families who integrate into the school system or community sports activities.

“Regional living is attracting more young people and particularly younger families who are looking for bigger living spaces at a cheaper cost.”

Liz Ritchie, Regional Australia Institute

Liz Ritchie RAI
Liz Ritchie, Regional Australia Institute (RAI) Chief Executive Officer. Image -LinkedIn.

Commonwealth Bank Regional and Agribusiness Banking Executive General Manager Paul Fowler said a strong drawcard for younger people in moving to regional areas is the provision of attractive local employment opportunities.

“Regional Australia is thriving, fueled by strong investment across a broad range of industries including agriculture, manufacturing, retail and hospitality,” Mr Fowler said.

“There are labour shortages in many parts of regional Australia and local businesses are attracting skilled and unskilled workers to increase capacity and serve growing demand for products and services.”

Fastest growing regional areas

Making the top 5 ranking for Australia’s fastest growing regional areas by way of capital city relocation were Ceduna, Mt Gambier, Port Augusta, Western Downs and Moorabool.

South Australian areas are growing particularly fast, earning ranks as the top three local government areas, and spurring high demand for houses in the state.

Top 5 regional areas by growth in capital-to-regional migration

Rank LGA State Annual change in capital-to-regional migration Quarterly change in capital-to-regional migration
1 Ceduna SA 114% 59%
2 Mt Gambier SA 85% 69%
3 Port Augusta SA 74% 7%
4 Western Downs QLD 56% 14%
5 Moorabool VIC 56% 5%

Ceduna observed the largest jump in regional movers (114%) in the past 12 months while millennials accounted for the highest proportion of movers to Port Augusta (76%).

In all top 5 regional areas, millennials were the highest proportion of movers followed by Gen-Xers.

Demographic breakdown of Regional Movers to Top 5 LGAs (12 months to March 2022)

Migration by growth
Source: Commonwealth Bank

Regional areas with largest % share of total migration

As for which regional areas are most popular with capital-to-regional movers, Queensland’s coast proved a favourite taking the top two spots.

The Gold Coast stood out as a clear winner, accounting for an 11% share in total migration while the Sunshine Coast followed behind at 5%.

Top 5 regional areas by share of capital-to-regional migration

Rank LGA State % share of total migration Annual change in capital-to-regional migration Quarterly change in capital-to-regional migration
1 Gold Coast QLD 11% 7% 27%
2 Sunshine Coast QLD 5% 8% 24%
3 Greater Geelong VIC 4% -5% 13%
4 Wollongong NSW 3% -6% 12%
5 Newcastle NSW 2% 7% 13%
Millennials accounted for the highest proportion of movers to all 5 areas, while Gen-Xers and Gen Alpha and Z-ers jostled for second spot.
Demographic breakdown of Regional Movers to Top 5 LGAs (12 months to March 2022)
Migration by share
Source: Commonwealth Bank
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