COVID drives migration to the bush
Australia’s cities have been emptying over the period of the COVID-19 pandemic as people migrate to the regions.
New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows Australia’s capital cities had a net loss of 11,200 people in the September quarter, the largest quarterly net loss on record.
The period coincided with the end of Australia’s first COVID lockdown.
Internal migration is the movement of people across a specified boundary within Australia involving a change in their place of usual residence. This can be within a state or territory, or even within a city.
The ABS said the net loss in the September quarter was the result of both fewer arrivals into capital cities, a decrease of 10.6 per cent, and more departures from big centres to non-capital city areas, and increase of 1.2 per cent.
The September quarter coincided with the months after Australia’s first hard COVID lockdown, the ABS says.
The Bureau said some city dwellers were packing up for the country from where they could just as easily work from home.
Meanwhile, real estate agents began reporting a rise in demand for ‘tree changer’ homes in regional Australia.
The period also coincided with the start of Melbourne’s second extended lockdown, when borders were closed to Victoria.
Sydney experienced the biggest loss of people during the September quarter, however, the data shows this trend had been happening to some extent even before the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the exodus from Melbourne increased by a factor of eight compared to the pre-lockdown period.
“There was a net loss of 7,400 people for Greater Melbourne in the September 2020 quarter, compared with 8,000 in the previous quarter. There was a net loss of 7,400 people for Greater Melbourne in the September 2020 quarter, compared with 8,000 in the previous quarter,” the ABS report said.
“Melbourne had a net loss of 4,700 people to the rest of the state, compared with 5,900 in the previous quarter,” the report said.
The rest of Victoria lost 3,700 people from internal migration in the September 2020 quarter, compared with a loss of 3,000 in the previous quarter and a gain of 2,000 in the September 2019 quarter.
The loss in the September 2020 quarter was the largest quarterly loss since September 1995, when 4,100 people left.
Some capital cities did make gains, though.
Brisbane and Perth saw an increase in internal migrations, while Hobart, Perth, Darwin and Adelaide were relatively steady.
Overall, NSW gained the most people from Victoria, and lost most to Queensland.
Victoria did not gain people from any state or territory during the September quarter, with the largest proportion of those leaving choosing to head north to Queensland.
And after years of losing people at the end of its gas boom, Darwin saw an increase from internal migration for the first time since 2015.