Australians abandon capital cities in droves for regional towns due to lower property prices

Wollongong gives Laura Symes every thing she wants, without Sydney’s stress.

The 32-year-old and her partner Simon Cramp, 33, are raising son Owen an hour from Sydney’s CBD after living for a long period in its inner-city.

They are part of a trend where Australians are flocking to regional cities.

A report comparing the latest Australian government data on all urban areas, including jobs growth, investment and welfare reliance found ‘goldilocks’ cities – not too large, not too small – outside the capitals were topping their more congested counterparts in terms of economic growth.

Geelong and Ballarat in Victoria and Newcastle and Wollongong in New South Wales have seen the biggest boom, The City Report by Polis Partners found.

Research has shown ‘goldilocks’ cities are booming with economic growth as city based people move away to find affordable housing and a much better lifestyle. Pictured is Wollongong, that is an hour south-east of Sydney

Ms Symes hasn’t looked straight back since leaving Sydney.

‘Sydney was so much fun once we were working and heading out every week-end, but it is simply so hectic and we knew once we started a family group we wanted to have space whilst still being be by the water,’ she told AAP.

‘Wollongong is the best of both worlds really, because there are so many good schools and universities, in addition to the national park and beaches, but still reasonably close to the city.’

Ms Symes said the lower property prices not in the bustling capital were yet another tempting factor in making the move.

‘It’s also so expensive to buy any property in Sydney, aside from a family home,’ she said.

Geelong and Ballarat (pictured) in Victoria and Newcastle and Wollongong in New South Wales have experienced even more economic growth than their neighbouring capital cities

Geelong and Ballarat (pictured) in Victoria and Newcastle and Wollongong in New South Wales have seen even more economic growth than their neighbouring capital cities

The last census shows regional Australia attracted 65,000 more new residents compared to capital cities as 1.2 million people moved to the regions between 2011 and 2016.

And the Regional Australia Institute believes coronavirus may help the trend continue.

‘Over the previous couple of months, we’ve all had to change how we work and this has allowed staff and employers to note that location isn’t any longer a barrier for where we choose to work,’ the thinktank’s chief executive Liz Ritchie said.

Polis Partners economist and author Rob Tyson said The City Report highlighted the positive growth and development happening in regional areas.

‘When you compare all 101 cities across Australia on these economic and inclusive factors, you will find there are some really exciting things going on in small regional areas,’ that he said.

‘We know many city dwellers are searching for alternatives to the fee, traffic and ‘busyness’ of urban life.’

The last census shows regional Australia attracted 65,000 more new residents than the capital cities as 1.2 million people moved to the regions between 2011 and 2016. Pictured is Geelong, based an hour south-west of Melbourne

The last census shows regional Australia attracted 65,000 more new residents than the capital cities as 1.2 million people moved to the regions between 2011 and 2016. Pictured is Geelong, based one hour south-west of Melbourne

Geelong, about an hour west of Melbourne, has experienced an enormous population surge in the past few years, which mayor Stephanie Asher says is an excellent thing for business and bringing diversity to the location.

‘It is a very good, very proud community down here. Lots of community clubs and organisations, plenty of volunteers,’ she said.

‘And a lot of strong multicultural communities as well, and proud Aboriginal culture too so excellent diversity and it is so connected.’

Geelong is also home to major hospitals plus some of Victoria’s best state and private schools.

Ms Asher, who moved to Ocean Grove on the Bellarine Peninsula 20 years ago, said there was an expression of community in the region that was notably lacking in major cities.

‘You can’t lower or walk down the primary street for too long without seeing at the least two people you realize, which is actually quite lovely, and there is a real strength in that network,’ she said.

Researchers said the move to regional areas was promoted by city dwellers looking for alternatives to the cost, traffic and 'busyness' of urban life in the capital cities. Pictured is Nobbys Head at Newcastle, two hours north-east of Sydney

Researchers said the move to regional areas was promoted by city dwellers looking for alternatives to the fee, traffic and ‘busyness’ of urban life in the capital cities. Pictured is Nobbys Head at Newcastle, two hours north-east of Sydney

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