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Citydwellers ditch the Big Smoke for these 10 regional hotspots

Clockwise: Hunter Valley, NSW; Toowoomba, QLD; Bundaberg, QLD; Central Coast, NSW. (Source: Getty)
Clockwise: Hunter Valley, NSW; Toowoomba, QLD; Bundaberg, QLD; Central Coast, NSW. (Source: Getty)

The Hunter Valley, Central Coast Toowoomba and Bundaberg are among some of the regional cities that have become hugely popular among city-dwelling Australians looking to relocate in regional Australia, a new report has revealed.

The mass exodus of Australians moving away from the CBD to snap up more affordable, spacious properties further afield has been described as the biggest property trend of the 21st century – and it’s making some regional cities skyrocket in popularity.

“More and more people realise the possibilities of working remotely – and thereby being able to escape the big, expensive, congested cities,” managing director Terry Ryder wrote in his latest report.


“The fringe areas of major cities, regional cities, hill change towns and sea change enclaves are all beneficiaries of this compelling trend.”

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The shift is being reflected in the data, too: CoreLogic analysis reveals that regional dwelling values have been consistently outpacing capital city dwelling values, with the former growing 17.7 per cent over the 2020 financial year compared to 12.4 per cent for the latter.

Not just office workers making the move

There are different types of Australians looking to move away: older Australians are bringing forward their retirement and selling their four-bedroom family house and choosing to downsize to a more affordable place, Propertyology’s Simon Pressley explained.

Meanwhile, office workers are realising they’re no longer tied to the office and can do their jobs further away from the CBD, while others still are moving away from metropolitans – typically where COVID-19 outbreaks begin – in fear of future lockdowns.

The trend began first with regional Victoria, as Melbourne residents tired of the lockdowns moved outside of the city, and then moved northwards to Darwin as Melbournians sought warmer weather.

Most popular state for regional moves, revealed

Queensland has been by far the most popular state for Australians moving to a regional area, with four of the top 10 regional hotspots located in the Sunshine State.

“Before the pandemic, Queensland was already on the relocation wish-lists of many interstate buyers. Now, with many people now working remotely, there is a growing herd migrating north,” Ryder said.

Toowoomba was at the top of the list, bolstered by a huge infrastructure boost in the region. Bundaberg is also set for major growth, with several ‘big ticket’ projects underway, including a $1.5 billion public hospital and a $30 million CBD makeover.

Aerial of Bargara Beach, Bundaberg
Bargara Beach, Bundaberg, Queensland. (Source: Getty) (Shanenk via Getty Images)

Queensland’s Ipswich also made the list of regional hotspots, with first-home buyers tempted by affordable house prices and promising jobs growth.

Meanwhile, several manufacturing contracts and renewable resources projects are driving the local economy in Maryborough, part of the Fraser Coast region, making it “one of the fastest-growing regions in Queensland”.

NSW also seeing a shift

In New South Wales, Sydneysiders are looking to settle down in the major wine region Hunter Valley. But there’s more going on in this area than just wine, Ryder explained.

“The Hunter has diversified and is growing a global reputation as a smart region with a broad industry base. Innovative clean energy projects are a part of this focus,” Ryder said.

“Towns in the Hunter Valley offer a rural lifestyle but remain within striking distance of Sydney, key employment hubs, international transport connections and major entertainment venues.”

The Central Coast, just an hour’s drive away from Sydney’s CBD, has also become a hotspot for citydwellers thanks to its proximity.

“They are lured by beaches, an emerging cafe culture, affordable properties, job opportunities and a less hectic lifestyle,” said Ryder.

The trend has expanded nationwide

On the west coast, Perth residents looking for relief from the rapidly rising property prices are eyeing southwards to Rockingham, especially first-home buyers. The city, which is a 40 minute drive from Perth’s CBD, has become attractive due to its plentiful affordable and vacant land and seaside lifestyle, while maintaining strong travel links to the CBD.

Victoria’s Shepparton and Latrobe Valley have emerged as key regional hotspots in the southern state, with Shepparton’s agricultural sector – where produce is exported to international markets – driving the local economy.

a scenic view down river in autumn
Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia. (Source: Getty) (Smyk_ via Getty Images)

Both investors and home buyers are attracted to the country lifestyle offered by Latrobe Valley, where many job-generating projects are underway, such as upgrades to schools, sporting facilities and a hospital in this area.

South Australia’s Victor Harbor is proving popular with Adelaideans looking to move away from the hustle and bustle, with Ryder describing regional South Australia as “one of the outstanding markets in Australia”.

“As city residents move to less congested areas offering a seaside or rural atmosphere, house prices in these regional enclaves are rising,” he said.

But on balance, they remain around the $400,000 mark. “This, together with Victor Harbor’s proximity to Adelaide, provides an attractive package for both owner-occupiers and investors,” Ryder added.

Top 10 regional hotspots in Australia

Here are the 10 most popular regional hotspots for Aussies wanting to move away from our major cities:

  1. Toowoomba, Queensland

  2. Bundaberg, Queensland

  3. Hunter Valley, NSW

  4. Rockingham, WA

  5. Ipswich City, Queensland

  6. Central Coast, NSW

  7. Maryborough, Queensland

  8. Shepparton, Victoria

  9. Victor Harbor, South Australia

  10. Latrobe Valley, Victoria

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