Quarterly migration flows to regional areas have averaged around 15 per cent higher in the past 12 months compared with the two years prior to the pandemic, with fast-growing business and employment regions offering more opportunities for regional movers, according to the latest quarterly Regional Movers Index, published today.

The Regional Movers Index is a partnership between the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) and Commonwealth Bank, analysing the quarterly and annual trends in people moving to Australia’s regions. 

Released on the eve of National Ag Day 2022, this quarterly edition looks at job vacancies in the top five migration hotspots for the first time.

Commonwealth Bank Regional and Agribusiness Executive General Manager Paul Fowler said it’s an exciting time for regional communities, movers and the many thriving regional businesses, particularly in agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure.

Record demand for workers remains one of the most significant “pull factors” behind the continuing population flow to the regions, Mr Fowler said.

“Many regional areas are experiencing strong economic growth, creating employment opportunities for people looking to make the move,” he said. “It is encouraging to see regions with thriving industries, stimulating employment and overall economic expansion.

“Across the top five regions attracting the largest flows – Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Geelong and Surf Coast, Illawarra and Newcastle, aligning to the strong jobs markets in those regions, with online advertised roles up between 30-50 per cent in the past year alone.

“For those LGAs experiencing the largest growth rate from capital to regional migration, job vacancies increased from 20-30 per cent.”

RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said migration from our capitals to Australia’s regions in this “living with Covid time” has remained elevated, with a slight uptick of 2.4 per cent on the June quarter.

"People are still voting with their feet and we need to ensure that regional Australia can accommodate this continuing trend – specifically around housing and essential services,” Ms Ritchie said. "The RMI identifies growth trends and emerging hot spots that need fresh thinking on how to accommodate the demand – to rebalance the nation.

“Increasing the number of rental homes and apartments in regional areas and reducing recruitment difficulties for employers are two key elements of the RAI’s Regionalisation Ambition 2032, a framework to rebalance the nation and forge a more prosperous, inclusive and balanced future for regional Australia.”

South Australia continues to dominate the top five LGAs experiencing the strongest relative growth in capital-city inflows, with the number of capital-city people moving to regions such as Mount Gambier doubling in the past 12 months. There was also a 55 per cent increase in regional movers to Whyalla, and a 48 per cent increase in Port Lincoln. 

Dardanup in Western Australia, where agriculture and infrastructure projects are driving growth, has featured in the top five LGAs for the first time. Meanwhile, capital-city inflows in Moorabool have grown by around 88 per cent.

The major LGAs close to the east capitals continue to maintain their position as the most popular migration destinations for city-dwellers making a regional move. 

Queensland centres such as the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast remain the most popular destinations by numbers. The Sunshine State’s regional areas now account for the largest share of total net inflows from capital cities (37 per cent) in regional Australia, eclipsing regional NSW (26 per cent) and regional Victoria (23 per cent).

Top % LGAs by share of migration (12 months to September 2022) 

  • Gold Coast (QLD) – 11%
  • Sunshine Coast (QLD) - 6%
  • Greater Geelong (VIC) - 4%
  • Wollongong (NSW) - 3%
  • Newcastle (NSW) - 2%

Top 5 LGAs by annual growth in migration (12 months to September 2022)

  • Mount Gambier (SA) – 100%
  • Moorabool (VIC) – 88%
  • Dardanup (WA) – 60%
  • Whyalla (SA) – 55%
  • Port Lincoln (SA) – 48%

Regional Movers Index - September quarter


Notes for Editors:

The Regional Movers Index, launched in 2021, tracks movements between Australia’s regions and capital cities, using Commonwealth Bank data from relocations amongst its 10 million customers. This enables early identification of growth trends and flags places emerging as hot spots needing fresh thinking on housing and infrastructure, as analysed by the Regional Australia Institue (RAI)

Data based on CBA customer address changes over the past 5 years, with prior addresses resided in for at least 6 months. Greater Capital City/Regional Area based on ABS 1270.0.55.001 GCCSA. At least 100 persons must have migrated to an LGA from a capital city in the previous 12 months for an LGA to be include in the report.