News, Culture & Society

The regional places Australians are moving to escape Sydney and Melbourne

Regional areas – all about a two-hour drive from major cities – have seen population surges as lockdowns spark an exodus from Australia’s metropolitan centres.

A staggering 96 per cent of Australians escaping a state capital during the last financial year were leaving either Sydney or Melbourne, new customer data from the Commonwealth Bank showed. 

‘Capital-city dwellers are moving to the regions in greater numbers, while regional people are electing to stay in place in greater numbers,’ the bank said in a new report.

Those fed up with the big smoke are increasingly embracing the ‘sea change’ phenomenon by relocating to somewhere a two-hour drive from a major city, or heading inland for a ‘tree change’ a three-hour car journey from the skyscrapers.

Regional areas a two-hour drive from a major capital city have been seen a population surge as lockdowns spark an exodus from Australia’s metropolitan centres. The Gold Coast remains the most popular place for Australians fleeing a big city, having an 11 per cent market share in 2020-21 (pictured are children cycling at Surfers Paradise)

Very few people leaving a capital city for good were packing up in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth or Darwin.

Most popular areas for those leaving a capital cities by share

Gold Coast: 11 per cent

Sunshine Coast: 5 per cent

Geelong: 4 per cent

Wollongong: 3 per cent

Newcastle: 2 per cent 

Those who did leave a capital city were more likely to move for warmer weather, with south-east Queensland topping the list, but regional areas near Melbourne had the biggest growth in people escaping the crowds.

The Gold Coast remains the most popular place for Australians fleeing a capital city, having an 11 per cent market share in 2020-21, more than double the Sunshine Coast’s 5 per cent, with both lifestyle cities about an hour drive from Brisbane.

Geelong, south-west of Melbourne, was the third most common new destination for capital city leavers, with a 4 per cent market share.  

Wollongong, with a 3 per cent share, and Newcastle on 2 per cent, rounded out the top five regional areas, with both these coastal cities a two-hour drive from Sydney. 

The pandemic has made higher-density living far less appealing with 49 per cent of those leaving a capital city for a regional area fleeing Sydney compared with 47 per cent who were moving out of Melbourne. 

By comparison, only 2 per cent of people leaving a capital city for a regional area came from Brisbane.

The Moorabool council area north-west of Melbourne, had a 68 per cent inflow surge from those leaving a capital city, when 2020-21 was compared with 2019-20. This area covering the towns of Ballan and Leigh Creek near Ballarat, the home of the Kryal Castle tourist attraction (pictured)

The Moorabool council area north-west of Melbourne, had a 68 per cent inflow surge from those leaving a capital city, when 2020-21 was compared with 2019-20. This area covering the towns of Ballan and Leigh Creek near Ballarat, the home of the Kryal Castle tourist attraction (pictured)

Areas close to Melbourne had the biggest surge in new residents from capital cities, with the Victorian capital having spent more than 200 days in lockdown since the start of the pandemic. 

Tree changers driving biggest capital city exodus

Moorabool council, Victoria: up 68 per cent

Mansfield council, Victoria: up 62 per cent

Corangamite council, Victoria: up 52 per cent

Murray council, NSW: up 48 per cent 

Alpine council, Victoria: up 47 per cent 

The Moorabool council area north-west of Melbourne, had a 68 per cent inflow surge from those leaving a capital city, when 2020-21 was compared with 2019-20.

This area covering the towns of Ballan and Leigh Creek near Ballarat, the home of the Kryal Castle tourist attraction.

The Mansfield local government area had a 62 per cent increase compared with the Corangamite Shire’s 52 per cent rise, in a regional covering Port Campbell where the Twelve Apostles are. 

Inland areas also attracted ‘tree changers’ with the Murray area of southern NSW having a 48 per cent increase in new residents from capital cities.

The Federation local government area, another region along the southern border of NSW, had a 44 per cent increase.

On the Victoria side of the Murray River, the Wangaratta area had a 46 per cent increase, compared with 47 per cent for the nearby Alpine council area.

These ‘tree change’ areas had a bigger new influx of big city people than coastal areas near a capital.

The Byron Shire Council area of far northern NSW had a 33 per cent increase in new arrivals from a big city, the same as the Central Coast, an hour’s drive north of Sydney.

The Mansfield local government area had a 62 per cent increase compared with the Corangamite Shire's 52 per cent rise, in a regional covering Port Campbell, home of the Twelve Apostles (pictured)

The Mansfield local government area had a 62 per cent increase compared with the Corangamite Shire’s 52 per cent rise, in a regional covering Port Campbell, home of the Twelve Apostles (pictured)

Noosa on the Sunshine Coast had a 29 per cent increase. 

Since the pandemic was declared in March 2020, foreigners have been banned from coming to Australia unless they are a permanent resident.

This saw net overseas immigration fall by 95,300 in the year to March 2021, the first time this had happened since 1946 just after World War II, new Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed.

Births instead of immigration accounted for the 131,000 increase in the population.  

‘This continues the recent shift from the long run trend of net overseas migration driving the majority of Australia’s population growth,’ the ABS said.

Tree change areas of inland Victoria and New South Wales had an even bigger increase in new residents from the capital cities than the Byron Shire (pictured is the Byron Bay lighthouse)

Tree change areas of inland Victoria and New South Wales had an even bigger increase in new residents from the capital cities than the Byron Shire (pictured is the Byron Bay lighthouse)

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk