Australians moving away from cities to rural living: Poll

Canberra, Sep 17 (IANS): A survey released on Friday showed that an ever-growing number of Australians are moving away from the nation's biggest cities in favour of rural living.

The Regional Movers Index (RMI) showed a national 11 per cent increase in people leaving the "big smoke" to set up house in country areas, reports Xinhua news agency.

The data, collected by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), compared figures from the June quarter of 2021 to those of the same period in 2020.

The exodus was most notable in the nation's two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, both of which have endured the nation's longest Covid-19 lockdowns.

The only capital city to go against the trend was Perth in Western Australia which had a slight population increase from its regional areas.

Explaining the demographic switch, CBA senior executive and RAI council member Grant Cairns said regional areas were becoming a "more realistic option" due to the continued rise in house prices in capital cities along with the increase in flexible work options which often means people no longer must commute to their offices.

"The experience of lockdowns is front of mind for Victorians, so the desire to seek a tree change is rapidly growing," Cairns said.

"It is positive to see the development of infrastructure, particularly in regional areas, is growing to meet the increased demand."

Cairns noted large regional cities, such as Geelong in Victoria, were undergoing major building projects and industrial developments including new offices, hotels, and education facilities.

RAI chief economist Kim Houghton said the data identified "regional areas which are emerging as desirable destinations for capital city residents, enabling local leaders and business owners to prepare for a burst of population growth".

"We can also see that the number of regional residents choosing to stay put has increased, which is likely to be contributing to the housing squeeze in some areas," Houghton said.



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