Regional Australia migration trend appears to be slowing down.
Queensland is attracting the most amount of migration. Image: Canva.
  • Queensland is seeing the strongest levels of regional migration.
  • South Australia went from losing people from regional areas to being a net attractor.
  • Many of the attractive regions are rich agricultural and mining regions.

The trend of regional migration appears to have slowed down – except in Queensland and South Australia, according to a Ray White report.

“While regional Victoria and NSW saw fewer people making the move post-pandemic compared to before, the opposite was true in regional Queensland and South Australia,” said Ray White chief economist, Nerida Conisbee.

“Queensland is now seeing particularly strong levels of regional migration, dominating total regional migration across Australia.

“Although a comparatively smaller number, regional South Australia has moved from losing people in regional areas to being a net attractor.”

Migration to regional areas, pre and post pandemic

Regional migration remains a lot higher than pre-pandemic but is driven primarily by growth in regional QLD
Source: ABS, Ray White.

RMI’s findings

The Regional Movers Index June 2023 Quarter Report found a 10.8% dip in people moving from capital cities to regions, which is on par with pre-pandemic levels.

The report similarly found regional Queensland recorded the lion’s share of movers, with the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast, Toowoomba and Bundaberg among the top five.

Top five LGAs by share of net capital-regional migration in 12 months to June 2023

Top five LGAs
Source: Regional Movers Index

The RMI noted the five pull factors to regional areas that significantly grew in value from 2020 to 2023 were:

  • A sense of space (82% in 2023 compared to 77% in 2020).
  • Overall improved wellbeing (80% in 2023 compared to 75% in 2020).
  • Affordability (78% in 2023 compared to 73% in 2020).
  • Having more time for yourself (74% in 2023 compared to 67% in 2020).
  • Gaining time in the day (72% in 2023 compared to 66% in 2020).

Moreover, the more job flexibility, the more interest there seemed to be in migrating to a regional area, with almost three in four saying that the ability to work from home has increased their interest in moving to the regions.

Not to be discounted are the cost of living concerns, which, according to RMI, rose sharply from 2020 at 64% to 79% in 2023.

Although not commensurate with the rise of that particular concern, net dissatisfaction with city life has incrementally increased over the past three years, from 10% to 14%.

Why Queensland and South Australia?

The regions topping the migration list post-pandemic, many of which are in Queensland and South Australia, are rich agricultural or mining areas and are not regarded as holiday destinations, according to Conisbee.

“This shows that the regional movement that is now occurring is a little bit about people wanting to make a sea or tree change, but more so about strong performing economic growth areas,” she said.

Topping the list is the Darling Downs – Maranoa region, directly west of Brisbane. Coming in second is the Barossa-Yorke-Mid North region, east of Adelaide.

Top regional growth areas, pre and post pandemic

Top regional growth areas, pre and post pandemic
Pre-pandemic is from December 2018 to December 2019. Post Pandemic is from July 2022 to July 2023. Source: Neoval, Ray White.


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