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Millennials’ major move as housing affordability crisis peaks

The big leap millennials are taking as the housing affordability crisis peaks, and coronavirus removes the barriers to remote work. Source: Getty

Aussies are ditching capital cities in droves as the housing affordability crisis continues, with millennials making up a large cohort of the outflow, new research has revealed. 

Between 2011 and 2016, Sydney and Melbourne lost more residents to regions than they gained, data from the Regional Australia Institute’s (RAI) The Big Movers report revealed.

In the five years to 2016, Sydney lost 64,756 people to regional Australia, while Melbourne lost 21,609, and Adelaide lost 1,000. 

And millennials in particular are moving in droves, with 200,000 moving between regions compared to 178,961 who moved to capital cities.

“Sydney also saw a net outflow of millennials. Some 37,000 millennials moved from Sydney to regions, with 32,500 moving the other way,” RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said.

Where are millennials moving to?

The top three regional destinations millennials were moving to during the last census period were the Gold Coast, Newcastle and the Sunshine Coast. 

Greater Geelong, Cairns, Toowoomba, Ballarat, Maitland, Greater Bendigo and Lake Macquarie were also popular destinations.

Coronavirus removes barriers to regional moves

Coronavirus has forced employees around the world to work from home. And rather than stifling the workforce, it has proven that remote work is a viable option. 

In the US, 75 per cent of Facebook employees indicated they would move state if they were given the option to work from home permanently, and all Twitter staff were given the option to remote work full-time after the pandemic subsides.

And if the pandemic continues to remove barriers to remote work here in Australia, the population shift to regional Australia is expected to continue, Ritchie said.

“Over the last few months, we’ve all had to change how we work and this has allowed staff and employers to see that location is no longer a barrier for where we choose to work,” Ritchie said.

Australia’s population mobility puts it ahead of 80 per cent of other OECD countries, with more than 39 per cent of Australians changing their address every five years compared to an international average of 21 per cent.

“As a country, we are an extremely mobile nation, and we have a propensity to change our address at twice the rate of people in most OECD countries,” Ritchie said.

“If location is no longer a barrier for employment, it’s possible that the trend line over the next decade could see an even greater swing to regions – and this is the RAI’s ambition.”


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