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Australian Locations Attracting The Most Foot Traffic

Australian Locations Attracting The Most Foot Traffic
June 4, 2020 Propertyology Head of Research and REIA Hall of Famer, Simon Pressley

Over the last three years, the population of Australia’s eight capital cities declined by a net 52,650 to internal migration. There’s an exodus away from congestion and expensive housing while large parts of regional Australia are the big beneficiaries.

Most people already appreciate that the population of this Lucky Country grows at the good clip of 1.5 to 2 percent per year. But very few people realise that Aussies are increasingly being lured away from the big cities – the statistics don’t lie!

Broad-brush population reporting tends to focus on Australia’s 2019 total population growth of 382,883 being disbursed 77.5 percent to capital cities and 22.5 percent to non-capitals, or regional locations.

From a property market perspective, such generalised information is completely useless. For the real story of where increased real estate demand is actually occurring, one needs to dissect the data details.

Australia’s annual population numbers are propped up by 200,913 overseas migrants and by births. Babies don’t buy property and neither do an overwhelming majority of overseas migrants, they rent.

Of the three separate components that make up population growth, internal migration is (easily) the most significant. Obviously, it’s a big decision to pack up and leave town, so internal migration is somewhat of a barometer of how the existing 25.5 million Australians really feel.

More Australians are relocating away from 5 out of 8 capital cities than moving to them.

Even Melbourne, Australia’s biggest beneficiary of total population growth (adding 110,960 extra people in the year ending June 2019), only attracted a miserly 590 Aussies from another part of the country.

Overseas migration added 77,152 people to Melbourne’s population last year (contributing a whopping 1.54 percent of the total 2.3 percent growth) while natural increase (births minus deaths) was a net 33,218.

Over the last financial year, internal migration increased Brisbane’s population by 0.63 percent (or 15,393 people) while, Hobart, the runaway national property market leader over the last 5-years, had a 0.43 percent increase as a result of Australian residents relocating to their city.

There can be no more definitive measurement of the popularity of individual towns and cities than foot traffic coming in and out. The cold hard facts are that Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Darwin all lost population to internal migration last year.

Sydney lost 25,564 residents to another location, while Adelaide (4,502), Darwin (3,246), Perth (1,878), and Canberra (194 people) are losing popularity among Aussies.

All with a total population of 10,000 or more, there were forty-eight (48) individual regional towns that had an internal migration population growth rate which was greater than Brisbane’s 0.63 percent. And 5 out of 8 capital cities failed to keep their own residents.

Interestingly, Newcastle and Wollongong (both strong regional cities but with elevated median house prices) also lost population to internal migration.

This population trend away from expensive housing and congestion is one which Propertyology anticipated several years ago. Accordingly, our buyer’s agents have helped hundreds of everyday Aussies to take advantage of investment opportunities in various corners of this country.

Two hours north of Melbourne and adjacent to the beautiful regional Gold Rush city of Bendigo, the Victorian municipality of Mitchell produced a 2.6 percent population increase from internal migration alone. Mitchell’s total population growth or 4 percent is streets ahead of the 1.5 percent national average and every capital city.

5 out of Australia’s 10 biggest regional beneficiaries of internal migration are in Victoria. Surf Coast (2.6 percent), Bass Coast (2.5 percent), Baw Baw (1.9 percent) and Golden Plains (1.8 percent) were in the national Top 10.


Related article: What attracts Australians to our regional wonders


Other notable Victorian beneficiaries of internal migration in the year ending June 2019 were Moorabool (1.64 percent), Geelong (1.47 percent), Mansfield (1.44 percent), Strathbogie (1.12 percent), Ballarat (1.08 percent), Macedon Ranges (0.97 percent), East Gippsland (0.96 percent), and Bendigo (0.89 percent).

Mainland Australians were drawn to the regional Tasmania municipalities of Latrobe (2.35 percent), Huon Valley (1.34 percent) and Burnie (0.49 percent).

The sustained strength of Hobart’s economy combined with its amazing lifestyle produced a 1.74 percent increase to the population of Sorell through internal migration, while Brighton (1.31%), Derwent Valley (0.89%) and Clarence (0.76%) were also popular.

The coastal town of Victor Harbour, 80 kilometres south of Adelaide, and Mount Barker in the Adelaide hills produced 1.96 percent and 1.8 percent population growth from interstate migration last year.


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Queensland’s Sunshine Coast (1.84 percent) and NSW’s Port Macquarie (1.68 percent) rounded out Australia’s regional Top 10.

Meanwhile, back in the capital cities, overseas migration continues increase city centre densities with total population increases in Sydney City Council (2.6 percent), Melbourne CC (5.1 percent), Perth CC (4 percent) and Adelaide CC (2.6 percent).

It’s also a well-known fact that the bulk of residential dwellings in these concrete jungles are high-rise apartments which have been grossly underperformed assets.

The city councils within Greater-Sydney that produced the biggest population losses from internal migration were Canterbury-Bankstown (4532), Randwick (3481), Georges River (3366), Cumberland (3329), and Parramatta (3071).

Other very popular regional New South Wales locations for internal migration were Maitland (1.43 percent), Kiama (1.2 percent), Shoalhaven (1.01 percent), Cessnock (0.97 percent), Mid Coast (0.93 percent), Wingecarribee (0.88 percent), and Eurobodalla (0.88 percent).

The Greater-Melbourne municipalities responsible for the biggest loss in popularity from existing Australian residents were Monash (losing 3900 people), Brimbank (3884), Dandenong (3162), and Whitehorse (2305).

Queensland’s population added 22,831 extra people from (net) internal migration over the year ending June 2019.

Brisbane City Council only had a 0.11 percent population increase from internal migration last year.

Over recent years, many people have held the misguided perception that interstate migration would drive a property boom in Brisbane. The thing is, the extra 1,354 people (or 520 households) added to the municipality’s total population of 1,253,982 is barely a drop in an ocean for a location that typically has 30,000 property transactions per year.


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The Queensland locations benefitting most from internal migration last year were Ipswich (2.39 percent), Sunshine Coast (1.84 percent), Gympie (1.26 percent), Fraser Coast (1.12 percent), Moreton Bay (1.1 percent), Gold Coast (0.86 percent), and the beautiful Scenic Rim (0.82 percent).

The delightful South Australian wine region of Yankalilla (1.63 percent), Gawler (1.44 percent), Alexandrina (1.34 percent), and Copper Coast (1.28 percent) proved popular for Australian residents to relocate to.

In Western Australia, the Perth municipality of Serpentine-Jarrahdale (3.46 percent) is one of the fastest growing in Australia. Augusta-Margaret River (1.55 percent), Swan (1.23 percent), Busselton (1.22 percent), and Mandurah (0.83 percent) also have solid internal migration.

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