top ten affordable places to live in australia
Sydney was left deflated with over 30,000 people moving away from the city. The only NSW location to make the top 10 was Hunter Valley. Image: Canva.
  • Over 35,000 interstate migrants decided to call Queensland home in the year to December 2022, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • The big smoke exodus was apparent prior to Covid.
  • A 'hill change' was among the notable trends.

Queensland has claimed four out of the top 10 spots on Hotspotting‘s latest Exodus to Affordable Lifestyle National Top 10 report.

In a search for the top affordable lifestyle locations with the best upside potential for the next six months, Hotspotting considered whether an area had strong sales activity and potential for capital growth; good stock levels at reasonable prices; strong infrastructure, both existing and planned; and proximity to major jobs hubs.

Top 10 affordable lifestyle locations

  1. City of Geraldton, Western Australia,
  2. City of Toowoomba, Queensland,
  3. Rural City of Murray Bridge, South Australia,
  4. Gladstone, Queensland,
  5. City of Mandurah, Western Australia,
  6. Hunter Valley, New South Wales,
  7. Mitchell Shire, Victoria,
  8. City of Mount Gambier, South Australia,
  9. Cairns, Queensland,
  10. Lockyer Valley, Queensland.

Big city exodus not a pandemic trend

The shift to smaller cities and regional hubs had been well underway prior to the pandemic. Hotspotting General Manager, Tim Graham, highlighted the fact that people had been making the move for over a decade.

“Statistics demonstrate that Sydney and Melbourne have been losing population to other parts of the country for 10 and five to six years respectively,” said Graham.

Hotspotting Director, Terry Ryder, echoed the sentiment, adding many were looking for more affordable lifestyle locations – particularly those located in Sydney.

“According to the latest stats from the ABS, the Sunshine State’s net population increased by 2.2% – or 116,000 new residents – in the year to December 2022, with about 35,500 being interstate migrants,” he said.

“Interestingly, Sydney net interstate migration [recorded] a fall of about 31,500, with many of these people heading to the more affordable lifestyle markets throughout Queensland.”

Ryder said the exodus from big cities had been thrust into the spotlight in recent years because many assumed that its momentum was due to the pandemic.

“However, its growth has been primarily due to individuals and families seeking a better lifestyle and affordability that is made possible through remote working that advances in technology have allowed for,” he said.

Will the big cities make a comeback?

Unlikely, said Graham, who noted that while many speculated a post-pandemic shift would happen, it simply hasn’t eventuated.

“There is little evidence that this will be the case as those who have gone through the effort to relocate and uproot their families will likely not be willing to do so again,” he said.

“Consequently, the regions have outperformed the capital cities in price growth for the past five years due to the exodus trend. And, as many markets are experiencing a downturn in prices, regional areas are proving to have more resilience.”

Ryder also observed a ‘hill change’ trend, with many looking for hinterland and country regions.

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