Footy preferences driving migration choices

Footy preferences driving migration choices
June 5, 2018 Simon Pressley

It might be hard to believe, but your footy code preference may well influence where you end up living. According to research by Propertyology, there’s decades of historical evidence that suggests that it has already influenced tens of thousands of Australian’s decision to move.

Analysis of interstate migration trends over the past 20 years suggests an alignment to certain states depending on whether you are a rugby league or an AFL fan.

When we look at interstate migration trends for all of Australia’s eight states and territories it’s somewhat a jumbled mess [refer below]. But a clear picture appears when we compare some of these states to others.

To state the obvious, someone deciding to relocate away from the state that they are currently living in have got seven other states to choose from.

People don’t make a conscious decision to pack up and move cities very often. When they do, the dinner table discussion often revolves around how and where they will find work, housing affordability, and lifestyle.

It’s that lifestyle component that appears to create a strong cultural connection between Queensland and New South Wales, and Victoria and Western Australia. Sport has always been a key part of Australian lifestyles.

For example, a large portion of residents in Queensland and New South Wales have a keen interest in rugby league. The interstate migration trend lines of these two states paints an uncanny equal-but-opposite picture.

Given interstate migration generally is influenced by changing economic factors, it’s no surprise that when the economy of one state is booming it will be the beneficiary of stronger total population growth, including bigger interstate migration figures.

For more than a decade pre-2012, when the resources sector was incredibly strong, Queensland and Western Australia were the runaway leaders for population growth. Their respective property markets were also the strongest.

The interstate migration component of population growth came predominantly from the state with the same footy code – Victorians moved to Western Australia while Queensland’s large intake of interstate migrants came predominantly from New South Wales.

The trend changed in 2012 when the downturn of commodity prices coincided with an upturn in Australia’s services sector. As the resources sector languished the Victoria and New South Wales economy improved, and the population followed accordingly.

New South Wales and Queensland have always been dominant rugby league states so as employment opportunities and cost of housing swing, population tends to also swing between those two states at the same time.

The interstate migration comparisons of New South Wales and Queensland and Western Australian and Victoria is like an inverted mirror when plotted on a graph.

This trend has been apparent for decades and shows an obvious connection between states that are culturally linked by their favoured footy codes.

Between 2002 and 2007, Queensland broke all sorts of records for attracting interstate migrants, while New South Wales consistently lost between 20,000 and 30,000 people per year.

And it’s a similar connection between Victoria and Western Australia were AFL is almost a religion.

Whether migration across the Nullabor is heading left or right tends to be heavily determined by the expansion or contraction of workforce decisions from BHP, Rio Tinto, and Chevron.

That means that in 2011 and 2012, Western Australia gained 20,000 people from interstate, yet they lost 20,000 people in 2016 and 2017 as the mining downturn continued.

While Sydney’s economy remains strong, the unfixable housing affordability constraints have given cause for more residents to look for alternative cities to live. And, as Queensland’s economy has progressively improved, that inverted mirror continues to reflect the (footy code) cultural connection between the states.


Propertyology is Australia’s only property market analyst to correctly forecast Hobart’s remarkable resurgence before its current boom. The multi-award-wining buyer’s agency helps everyday people to invest in strategically-chosen locations all over Australia. The firm’s success includes being a finalist in the 2017 Telstra Business Awards and 2018 winner of Buyers Agency of the Year in REIQ Awards For Excellence. Simon Pressley is a REIA Hall Of Fame Inductee and a three-time winner of the REIA and REIQ Buyers Agent of the Year award.

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