1 in 5 Aussies dreaming of regional shift

By Kyle Robbins 19 May 2023 | 1 minute read

liz ritchie rai reb ekwbty

Young Australians are set to drive the continuation of Australia’s growing pattern of regional migration, according to new research.

Despite being billed as a pandemic solution for Australians hunting reprieve from lockdowns and extra living space, new research from the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) reveals the nation’s mass migration of capital city dwellers entering the nation’s regions is up 16 per cent on pre-pandemic levels, even as a small number of residents head in the opposite direction.

According to a survey of 1,000 residents in major capital cities by the RAI, one in five metropolitan Australians wants to make the regional move, citing the reduced cost of living, lower traffic levels, greater space, and improved wellbeing as the primary drivers of this desire.

Boosting regional Australia’s appeal to city dwellers is reflected in a growing shift in perception towards regional job prospects, with 35 per cent of respondents viewing regional salaries as on par with those offered in the major cities.

Career optimism in regional Australia has been led by young Australians (18 to 29), with over half the surveyed respondents within this age bracket sharing optimism at the plethora of professional, skilled, and entry-level jobs available in regional Australia.

Also adding to the appeal of regional migration has been the changing nature of work, with remote working now commonplace across many Australian businesses as a result of the pandemic, leading to more than seven in 10 respondents labelling their ability to work remotely as inspiring their desire to migrate regionally.

Though the RAI noted that over half (55 per cent) of respondents were sceptical of migrating too regionally after they revealed their intention to remain within a two-hour drive of their current city.

RAI’s chief executive officer, Liz Richie, explained that “people are realising a move to regional Australia doesn’t mean compromising your career, income, or lifestyle”.

Despite various reports suggesting regional Australian housing supply has been stretched thin by increasing internal migration, Ms Ritchie believes regional hubs right across the country, from Toowoomba to Tamworth are “ready to welcome city folk with open arms.”

“There’s never been a better time to move to more,” she exclaimed.

Steven Wright, practice manager for Legal Aid NSW, who himself recently made the shift from Sydney out to Broken Hill on the western edge of the state, said his regional movement had incited “incredible” career progression.

“Out here, I’ve been given more responsibility and been exposed to greater challenges,” he detailed, adding life in a remote town like Broken Hill, which is just under six hours from its nearest capital city, Adelaide, “connects people in a way that’s incredibly special”.

Mr Wright concluded he wouldn’t trade his experience “for the world”.