Lack of housing causing growing pains with city migration to country

Chris McLennan
By Chris McLennan
May 11 2022 - 1:00am
TROUBLE BREWING: Another country property, this time a church in Victoria, is sold to a Melbourne buyer at auction.

Policy-makers have been urged to recognise one size doesn't fit all in responding to the influx of people from the city to country.

The regions are experiencing growing pains from the city exodus which has seen regional Australia's population growing by 76,500 people each year over the past decade.

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This is the finding of yet another report on the pandemic-induced migration which has again highlighted the need for new housing as a key problem.

The Regional Australia Institute released a report this week which identified six key markets as a way of better understanding what is going on across the nation's local government areas.

RAI chief executive Liz Ritchie said the report "Building the Good Life: Foundations of regional housing" will help deliver more affordable and appropriate homes.

"Regional Australia is experiencing a moment in history like no other," she said.

"A life in the regions is now more attractive than ever before.

"As millions of Australians either choose to stay in the regions, or make the move, this surge in popularity brings with it growing pains that need addressing as we contend with the unique settings facing our regions," Ms Ritchie said.

She warned a one-size-fits-all plan could see locals priced out of the market, regional economic growth constrained, a further tightening of the rental market, and/or the most vulnerable in our community bearing the brunt of the housing challenge.

She said the RAI research aims to provide new information about the different housing markets in Australia and highlights the need for place-based initiatives moving forward.

Those six housing markets are:

  • Stalled (small, stalled, inland and low-cost) 31 councils.
  • Volatile (small, stalled, low-cost and volatile) 23 councils.
  • Stable (mid-sized, agricultural) 157 councils.
  • Coastal (larger, average cost) 58 councils.
  • Growth zone (peri-urban, urban, major regional cities) 87 councils.
  • Most expensive (Sydney and Melbourne) 40 councils.

"Failure to recognise the distinct regional housing markets in Australia and respond accordingly will see the current pressures continue to escalate," Ms Ritchie said.

"With the drivers of markets quite different in respective markets, responses need to be calibrated accordingly to ensure they improve the situation.

"If blanket policies are introduced to incentivise new builds within stalled markets (31 inland LGAs) these may also exacerbate land-supply pressures in the more active growth zone markets (87 LGAs).

"Conversely, policies that bring more land to market should help alleviate undersupply in fast-growing regions but will have no impact on low-growth regions where land supply is already plentiful.

The regional migration shows no signs of slowing.

More than 84,000 jobs were advertised in regional areas in March which shows regional employers are looking for staff but they need appropriate housing for them.

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Meanwhile, another report has shown house sellers in regional Australia are making a handy profit.

CoreLogic's latest Pain & Gain Report shows regional Australia saw nominal gains for 94 per cent of sales, compared with 93.7pc of capital cities.

The coastal regions with the highest profitability were Geelong in Victoria and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

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Chris McLennan

Chris McLennan

National Rural Property Writer

ACM national rural property writer based in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria. Career journalist. Multi award winner.

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