One-fifth of Australians in major cities are contemplating a move to the regions as the cost of living crisis worsens.
Those who are considering the big move from the city to the country blame the cost of living in urban centres, high stress and traffic as the reasons they want to leave according to new research from the Regional Australia Institute.
An influx of 70,000 city dwellers moved to the regions during the Covid-19 pandemic and the surge has not slowed post lockdowns, with regional migration still up 16 per cent on pre-pandemic levels in 2023.
Affordability and bang for buck were the top reasons for considering a move, as inflation soars and the major cities bear the brunt of high costs.
The research found that 78 per cent of Australians saw regional living as more affordable and 82 per cent cited a sense of space as the main benefit pulling them to the regions.
In NSW, the desire to reduce the cost of living is the highest level of concern for metropolitan residents, with 77 per cent of saying this is the key reason they are looking to move.
The research found that Australians were changing their attitude towards job prospects in the regions, with more than a third viewing salary prospects in the regions on par with the major capital cities and 73 per cent saying they believe professional opportunities are growing.
A move to the regions was nothing but helpful for the career of lawyer Steven Wright and his partner James who moved to Broken Hill four years ago.
“We were really apprehensive before we moved out here, we were quite concerned about what it would be like … we rocked into town sight unseen,” he said.
“Even though we‘re in the middle of a desert, we’re a 15-hour drive to Sydney and a five-hour drive to Adelaide, I think our lives are so much better for it.”
He said the move had been nothing but good for his career and it was a no-brainer to decide to make it permanent.
“We kind of made the decision to stay when we bought a house here and we‘ve both had pretty good career progression so far,” Mr Wright said.
“A lot of opportunities that we probably wouldn’t have had if we had stayed put.”
A high sense of anxiety was also blamed for Australians bailing out of the major cities, with three in four people perceiving moving to regional Australia would reduce their overall stress and anxiety.
Mr Wright said his social life had never been better thanks to moving to Broken Hill.
“In terms of lifestyle, you get to know people on such a deep level so quickly when I actually found it quite difficult to make friends as an adult in Sydney,” he said.
“One thing we were surprised about was all the things that happen here. Every year they have the Broken Heel Festival, the Mundi Mundi Festival, there’s a huge art scene here.”
The rising interest in country living has also been fuelled by the shift towards working from home. Among the 52 per cent of respondents with flexible working arrangements in place, almost three in four (73 per cent) say the ability to work from home has increased their interest in moving to the regions.
Regional Australia Institute chief executive Liz Ritche urges more Australians to consider making the move.
“During the pandemic we saw thousands of Australians make the ‘move to more’, trading the hustle and bustle of the city for a life in the regions,” Ms Ritchie said.
“People are realising a move to regional Australia doesn’t mean compromising your career, income or lifestyle. There are well-paying, professional, skilled and entry-level jobs waiting to be filled in country areas.