With the release of regional population and migration data for 2016-17, in this week’s Pulse we take a look at where people migrating away from capital cities are ending up moving to.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recently released regional population growth data for 2016-17.  The data included information on internal migration showing where people were moving to.  Using this data we can determine when people migrate away from a capital city where they are settling.  For this we are looking at internal movements from the Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSA) to other SA4 regions across the country.

Of those people shifting out of Sydney, the most popular destinations were those directly adjacent to the city: Newcastle/Lake Macquarie and Illawarra.  The Australian Capital Territory and Gold Coast also recorded more than 5,000 person arrivals from Sydney over the past year.  Six of the top 10 regions for arrival of former Sydney residents were within New South Wales with the remaining for in ACT, Qld and Vic.

Top 10 regions of arrival from Sydney 2016-17

The top 5 regions of arrival for former residents of Melbourne are all within Victoria and they are all directly adjacent to Melbourne. Latrobe-Gippsland (7,259) and Geelong (6,894) have attracted the greatest number of former Melbourne residents over the past year.  7 of the top 10 regions for arrivals of former Melbourne residents were in Victoria with the Gold and Sunshine Coasts in Qld and the ACT accounting for the other three regions in the top 10.

Top 10 regions of arrival from Melbourne 2016-17

7 of the top 10 regions for arrivals of departing residents of Brisbane are also located in Qld.  The Gold and Sunshine Coasts record a much greater number of arrivals from Brisbane than any of the other regions on the list.  Interestingly, the data also suggests that those migrating away from Brisbane to other areas of Qld tend to remain in the southern areas of the state.  The three regions of top migration from Brisbane that aren’t within the state are Melbourne-Inner, Richmond-Tweed (directly adjacent to the Gold Coast) and the ACT.

Top 10 regions of arrival from Brisbane 2016-17

A reasonably large number of residents leaving Adelaide move to other regions of SA (noting there are only 3 regional SA4 areas in SA).  The South-East region of the state is the most popular for departing Adelaide residents followed by Barossa-Yorke-Mid North.  Melbourne is also a popular region for those departing Adelaide accounting for 3 of the top 10 regions with the ACT, Darwin, Gold Coast and Parramatta also making the list for regions outside of SA.

Top 10 regions of arrival from Adelaide 2016-17

It is perhaps a little surprising that the top destinations for departing residents of Perth are within Western Australia and not interstate.  The 4 regional SA4 regions of the state are also the top 4 destinations for those migrating out of Perth.  Regions of Melbourne account for 3 of the remaining 5 locations outside of WA with Darwin, Gold Coast and ACT also making the list.

Top 10 regions of arrival from Perth 2016-17

The most popular region for residents of Hobart that move out of the city is the surrounding South East region.  In fact, the South East has seen double the number of migrants from Hobart than Launceston and the North East in second place.  Note that there are only 3 SA4 regions of Tas outside of Greater Hobart and they are each listed.  Outside of Tas, 4 regions are in Vic (each of which are in Melbourne), 2 regions are in Qld and the remaining region is the ACT.

Top 10 regions of arrival from Hobart 2016-17

When residents of Darwin move away from the city, the greatest share of them move to other parts of the Territory outside of the capital city.  Qld is a popular destination from Darwin residents moving away with 5 of the top 10 regions listed within the state and all except for Ipswich being in coastal locations.  The top 10 list also includes one region each in Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide as well as the ACT.

Top 10 regions of arrival from Darwin 2016-17

Residents of Canberra that leave don’t have the option to move elsewhere within the territory however, a substantial number of them move to the Capital Region located adjacent in NSW.  7 of the 10 most popular regions for people from Canberra to migrate to are in NSW and 6 of them are in Sydney. Elsewhere in the top 10 Canberrans have migrated to 2 regions of Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

Top 10 regions of arrival from Canberra 2016-17


The data shows that overall a significant number of those people that moved away from a capital city over the past financial year moved to an area adjacent to the capital city.  Some of these are coastal/lifestyle markets while also being locations where housing is more affordable.  The reality is the reasons for moving to these locations likely vary somewhat from one in which the residents are seeking more affordable housing or one in which residents are looking for a seachange/treechange.


Written by Cameron Kusher, CoreLogic. 14 May 2018