Record Migration is Regional Gain and City Pain

Australia’s biggest capital cities have been left in the lurch as record-breaking numbers of people moved to the regions in 2020.

Recently released internal migration data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed more than 40,000 people abandoned capital cities to move to regional areas last year, 35 per cent more than the previous year.

Sydney lost the largest portion of this with more than 31,000 people moving away from the city.

ABS director of demography Phil Browning said the trend was not over yet.


“There are still many residential moves occurring within Australia during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

“In the 2020 calendar year, 233,100 people arrived to live in regional areas and 190,200 people departed for the capitals.

“This resulted in a net gain of 43,000 people for the regions, up from 18,900 in 2019.”

Regional Queensland had the biggest net inflow with 17,000 people, followed by regional Victoria (13,400) and regional New South Wales (12,700).

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said the knock-on effects of internal migration had ramifications for retail and housing as well as government planning for future infrastructure.

“There’s been a stampede to regional Australia during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said

Melbourne lost a net 26,100 residents to internal migration, the largest annual net loss for Victoria’s capital on record.

Brisbane (13,000 people), Perth (3,500) and Canberra (300) were the only capital cities to record net gains during 2020.

Written: 6 May 2021

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