A man and woman smiling, each holding a child in their arms.

Millennials say Australian dream is ‘actually a reality’ as migration from capitals hits five-year high

Regional growth across Australia is being driven by a mass exodus from capital cities, with people aged 24-40 leading the boom change, new data shows.

The Regional Movers Index report, a collaboration between the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) and the Commonwealth Bank, tracks movements across regional areas and capital cities across Australia.

Migration from capital cities to regional Australia has increased by 16.6 percent in the past 12 months, its highest level to date.

In the quarter, the number of people moving out of capitals was nine percent higher than the post-pandemic average and 26.7 percent higher than the average in the two years prior to the pandemic.

In the 12 months to March this year, 61 percent of total net outflows came from Sydney, while 45 percent came from Melbourne.

Daniel Fletcher was born and raised in Melbourne, but has a job and a cheaper, bigger house in Dalby. two hours west of Brisbane, were too good to pass up for his young family.

“We colloquially use the term ‘the Australian dream’ to get a backyard for the kids to grow up in, and that’s actually a reality – it exists here.”

But it wasn’t just affordability that drew Mr. Fletcher to regional life.

“Here it takes a village to raise children and be part of a family and it’s much easier, I think, to be in a welcoming community than to try and make your way through the rat race in a a big city.”

Western Downs Mayor Paul McVeigh said it was no surprise that people were arriving in the region.

“We’re attracting that next generation and they have great career opportunities and they’re getting jobs that would take years in much larger regions,” he said.

Chris Bateman, Courtney Johnson and their daughter Vada moved to Western NSW in 2021.Delivered: Courtney Johnson

Don’t look back

Courtney Johnson moved with her partner Chris Bateman to Dubbo in western New South Wales from Hornsby, Sydney, in October last year.

“We traveled for an hour and back to work every day, so most of our lives were taken up by work and travel,” said Ms. Johnson.

Her new employer was so desperate for staff that they had to wait three months for her to arrive, and Mr. Bateman arranged for him to work from home.

For now, they have no plans to move back to the city.

“We’re already thinking about school for our three-year-old,” said Ms. Johnson.

The couple bought a house and felt it was a better option than renting.

“We made offers on 10 or 12 houses and kept getting beaten, so we ended up buying something we didn’t really want.

“But it’s cheaper than renting and we can use it later for an investment property.”

A "sold" sticker on a sales sign on the front of a house.
Regional real estate agents say they see younger buyers entering the real estate market.ABC News: Liz Pickering

Younger buyers entering the market

South Australian real estate agent Daniel Eramiha said young people in smaller communities could have broken into the housing market.

“We have a lot of young people in Ceduna… finally entering the market with financial options available to them over the past six to 18 months,” he said.

Mr Eramiha said there seemed to be a mix of newcomers and lifelong locals in the area

Port Augusta real estate agent Michael Rowbottom said a growing number of people were looking for investment property as a way to enter the market.

“Cheaper or mid-range homes costing less than $150,000 are picking up quite quickly,” he said.

Kim Houghton, chief economist at the Regional Australia Institute, said the youth movement benefits families and local economies.

“These are the people who are building the much-needed skills that many of these cities and regional centers need,” he said.

Paul Fowler, Commonwealth Bank’s director of regional and agribusiness banking, said that with nearly 85,000 vacancies, regional Australia will become even more attractive.

“I think that reflects the appeal and vitality of regional Australia,” he said.

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