Millennials leading move to regional towns

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Millennials are on the move, and they have regional centres in their sights

Young people are the biggest demographic moving to regional areas, a new report has found, with three South Australian towns experiencing the nation’s biggest growth rates.

The report, prepared by Commonwealth Bank and the Regional Australia Institute, found overall movement to regional areas increased by 16.6 per cent during the March quarter, which is a five-year high and almost doubled pre-pandemic levels.

For the first time, this quarterly report analysed the demographics of regional movement in addition to pure numbers and found Millennials – defined by the report as people aged between 24 and 40 – were the biggest movers.

The opportunity to access larger living spaces at a cheaper price is being taken up by an increasing number of people, according to new Commbank data

The three areas which had the biggest increases in regional migration during the 12 months between March 2021 and March 2022 were all in South Australia – Ceduna (114 per cent growth), Mount Gambier (85 per cent) and Port Augusta (74 per cent).

Moorabool in Victoria and Western Downs in Queensland were next in that category.

Despite these significant increases, the five areas outside state capitals with the highest overall migration levels are Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Greater Geelong, Wollongong and Newcastle.

Commonwealth Bank’s regional and agribusiness banking executive general manager Paul Fowler says regional areas provide attractive local employment opportunities, which encouraged migration, highlighting Mount Gambier as a strong example of this.

"Regional Australia is thriving, fuelled by strong investment across a broad range of industries including agriculture, manufacturing, retail and hospitality," he says.

"There are labour shortages in many parts of regional Australia and local businesses are attracting skilled and unskilled workers to increase capacity and serve growing demand for products and services.

"Mount Gambier is perfectly positioned between Adelaide and Melbourne with wonderful amenities and work opportunities in a diverse range of industries including manufacturing, agriculture, civil construction and wholesale retail."

Regional Australia Institute CEO Liz Ritchie says millennials often brought business skills to local communities and planting family roots benefitted schools and sporting clubs, while receiving the advantages of bigger living spaces at a cheaper cost.

Australia’s two largest cities – Sydney and Melbourne – experienced the biggest losses of population numbers due to regional migration.

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