©2024 Propertyology Pty Ltd

Complete this form and we'll be in touch


Australia’s Fascinating Population Trends

Australia’s Fascinating Population Trends
April 29, 2022 Propertyology Head of Research and REIA Hall of Famer, Simon Pressley

The first full year of official population data since the beginning of the pandemic has uncovered the most fascinating trends for human movement that Australia has ever seen.

In a year when Australia produced its lowest annual population growth rate in more than 100-years (since World War 1), the pandemic drove a notable redistribution of residents.

Granular level analysis by Propertyology confirms disbursement patterns produced significant population declines in a several big-profile cities.

This was offset by strong volumes of internal migration in a variety of lesser-known inland and coastal locations, including but not limited to Warragul, Torquay, Gympie, Scenic Rim, Victor Harbour, Bega and Batemans Bay.

More on these migration magnets shortly.

A century of year-after-year increased population density in and around the CBDs of Australia’s major cities came to a grinding halt in 2021.

All 8 capital cities produced a sharp reduction from their historical population growth rates.

Four capital cities had a total population decline, including 60,500 in Greater-Melbourne. Ouch!

Propertyology analysed real estate patterns in conjunction with population patterns and concluded that a significant critical mass of Australians has already embarked on a life-enhancing lifestyle movement.

  • Australia’s combined regional population increased by 70,900 people while the combined capital city population declined by 26,000;
  • There was an all-time record high 553,977 real estate transactions over the 12-months to June 2021. It is significant to note that 60 percent were in locations throughout regional Australia; and
  • Extremely scarce rental supply in regional Australia (down from a total of 22,487 in June 2019 to 8,615 in June 2021), compared to capital city rental vacancies reducing from 56,192 in June 2019 to 51,766 in June 2021.

While 298,034 babies added to Australia’s population, the total net population increase for the year was a very mild 44,875 (0.2 percent).

A net loss to overseas migration of 89,877 along with 163,171 deaths were a drag on population.


Internal migration magnets

The pandemic accelerated the decades-long trend for more and more Australians relocating away from capital cities.

Over the 12-months to June 2021, a net 48,202 people relocated away from capital cities to regional Australia.

The latest population data represents just the first year of what I believe will go down in Australian history as one of the most transformational eras ever [here’s why].

Australia’s biggest internal migration magnet was the regional Victoria location of Bass Coast, adding 13.8 percent to population growth over the 5-years ending June 2021. Townships in this coastal municipality include Wonthaggi and Inverloch.

Interestingly, the median house price doubled in Bass Coast over the same 5-year period.

For comparative purposes, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide all produced circa 40 percent capital growth while both Perth and Darwin only saw a 10 percent increase in their median house price.


Related article: Performance is not related to population size


Illustrating that the love for this incredibly diverse country is spread all over Australia, other internal migration winners in different states include Baw Baw VIC (10.4 percent), Mount Barker SA (9.2 percent), Sunshine Coast QLD (9 percent), Maitland NSW (8.4 percent) and Margaret River WA (8.1 percent).

The graphic below contains Australia’s biggest beneficiaries of internal migration over the last 5-years.

The biggest capital city beneficiaries of internal migration are mere minnows in comparison.

Greater-Brisbane and Greater-Hobart had the highest population growth from internal migration, adding 2.8 percent and 1 percent over the last 5-years. Their respective property markets produced capital growth rates of 29 percent and 80 percent over the 5-year period.


Related article: Truly treasured property markets


The former craze to move to a big, congested and expensive city is long gone.

Last year 30,424 (net) people said ‘goodbye’ to Sydney while 34,367 also said ‘ta-ta’ to Melbourne.

Over the last 5-years, 4 of Australia’s 5 largest cities have produced a net population decline of a whopping 196,119 from internal migration.

Accelerating internal migration into regional Australia is just one of a collection of fundamentals to support why rising interest rates will not stop very strong rates of capital growth over the next few years.


Capital cities

It is unprecedented for Greater-Melbourne (-60,500) and Greater-Sydney (-5,744) to produce such population declines. Let’s not forget their respective populations typically increased by 110,000 and 90,000 in the pre-Covid years.

With near-record high volumes of housing supply in the construction pipeline, there are interesting times ahead for the property markets of Sydney and Melbourne.

Brisbane is also an interesting case study. Commentary suggesting that “everyone has moved to BrisVegas” is grossly misguided.

Greater-Brisbane’s total population growth over the 12-months ending June 2021 was only 70 percent of historical volumes.

And Australia’s largest municipality, Brisbane City Council, actually produced its first ever net population decline.

The popularity of work-from-home along with lifestyle attractions of umpteen different regional locations will continue to redistribute segments of our existing resident population away from big cities.


Related article: How our buyer’s agents help you to win as a property investor


The pandemic has definitely driven structural changes to workplace and lifestyle preferences.

It has triggered population declines in the CBD city councils of Melbourne (-7.6 percent), Sydney (-2.6 percent), Adelaide (-1.6 percent), Hobart (-1.4 percent) and Brisbane (-0.04 percent).

Many other inner-ring capital city municipalities also produced population declines.

The old-fashioned fried egg town planning model is definitely being scrambled.

Growth corridors

Whilst the overall population growth rates for all 8 capital cities shows a sharp reduction, there are pockets within cities that produced an annual population growth well above the 0.2 percent national average.

These population growth corridors are predominantly situated adjacent to land supply:

  • Sydney NSW: Camden (6.2 percent) and The Hills (2.6 percent)
  • Melbourne VIC: Melton (3.9 percent), Wyndham (2.3 percent) and Cardinia (2 percent)
  • Brisbane QLD: Ipswich (3 percent) and Moreton Bay (1.5 percent)
  • Perth WA: Serpentine-Jarrahdale (3.4 percent) and Kwinana (3 percent)
  • Hobart TAS: Brighton (2.7 percent)
  • Canberra ACT: Queanbeyan (2 percent)
  • Darwin NT: Palmerston (1.5 percent)

Related article: Understanding regional Australia real estate


The largest rates of total population growth in regional Australia included:

  • NSW: Maitland (3.5 percent), Cessnock (2.9 percent), Shellharbour (2.3 percent), Shoalhaven (1.6 percent), Albury (1.3 percent) and Ballina (1.2 percent)
  • VIC: Surf Coast (4.4 percent), Bass Coast (3.7 percent) Baw Baw (3.1 percent), Geelong (1.8 percent), Wodonga (1.3 percent) and Bendigo (1.2 percent)
  • QLD: Sunshine Coast (2.1 percent), Fraser Coast and Gympie (both 1.5 percent) and Gold Coast (1.3 percent)
  • AUST: Mount Barker (3.3 percent), Victor Harbour and Kangaroo Island (both 1.7 percent)
  • AUST: Margaret River WA (2.6 percent), Port Hedland (1.9 percent) and Busselton (1.7 percent)
  • TAS: Latrobe (2.1 percent) and Meander Valley (1.7 percent)

Propertyology are national buyer’s agents and Australia’s premier property market analyst. Every capital city and every non-capital city, Propertyology analyse fundamentals in every market, every day. We use this valuable research to help everyday Aussies to invest in strategically-chosen locations (literally) all over Australia. Like to know more? Contact us here.

Here’s how we combine our thought-leading research with Propertyology’s award-winning buyer’s agency services.