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In recent years, many people have moved out of cities to regional areas looking for a quieter and more relaxing lifestyle.

Many thought this trend would end now that COVID lockdowns appear a thing of the past, but a new report by buyers’ agency, Hotspotting says otherwise.

Australia’s regional exodus

According to buyers’ agency Hotspotting, the migration of city dwellers to the regions has been building for the past 5–6 years, so it’s incorrect to say it’s a trend driven by the pandemic.

It’s more about technology enabling people to work remotely and having access to a better lifestyle at an affordable price. And, according to Hotspotting’s Terry Ryder, “It’s a long-term trend and it’s here to stay.”

Impact of the pandemic

What the pandemic did was supercharge an existing trend. The Regional Australia Institute’s (RAI) Regional Movers Index report found migration from capital cities to regional Australia increased by 16.6 per cent during the 2021/22 financial year when lockdowns occurred.

During this period, it seems that some people left metropolitan areas for a variety of reasons including to retire, downsize, find more affordable housing or for lifestyle reasons such as a slower pace of life.

Regional centres like Geelong, Ballarat, Newcastle, the Central Coast and Sunshine Coast have all boomed on the back of this demographic shift.

Ryder says people will continue to seek out a tree change or sea change in regional locations that offer cheaper prices, an attractive lifestyle, higher rental yields and good potential for price growth.

This year’s regional hotspots

The report identifies the top 10 regional areas tipped for major growth:

  • Onkaparinga, SA
  • Mandurah, WA
  • Toowoomba, Qld
  • Port Stephens, NSW
  • Mitchell Shire, VIC
  • Townsville, Qld
  • Geraldton, WA
  • Yeppoon, Qld
  • Murray Bridge, SA
  • Bundaberg, Qld

Some of the drawcards enticing city dwellers to regional towns include affordable property prices as well as good transport infrastructure. Take Toowoomba for example, the $1.6 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing and $15 billion Inland Rail Link, along with affordable housing (in the vicinity of $385,000) is luring residents from their city abodes.

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