Is 2022 the year of the seachange? Here are 6 tips for property seekers on the move.

Marika Berney
View of Coolum Beach from balcony.
5 min read

Sand dunes and sunrise coffees before work, anyone?

If you think you’ve noticed more people moving regional recently, you’re right. Whether it’s being closer to loved ones, choosing a less chaotic lifestyle or having the option to move somewhere you can actually afford, an interstate or intrastate sea change is high on the post-pandemic list for many over the past 18 months. Is 2022 the year of the sea change?

People movers

The ABS March quarter 2021 release tells us that capital cities had a net loss of 11,800 people from internal migration, the largest quarterly net loss on record. And it’s not just regional moves either: when it comes to capital cities, Brisbane gained the most people through net internal migration (+3,300) while Melbourne lost the most (-8,300) in the March 2021 quarter. 

So why this accelerated move?

It’s a trend that David Gruen of Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) says has been accelerated but not caused by the pandemic. 

View of Coolum Beach from balcony.
A view worth moving for in this Coolum property.

There are five main reasons why people are moving out of major cities.

We’re putting our family first

If there’s anything this pandemic has made us realise, it’s what is important to us and family trumps everything. Levi Turner from Bellarine Property tells us that a lot of families are moving to be nearer to each other, “Some areas are seeing people making their ‘retirement move’ earlier or grandparents moving to follow their childrens’ families as they make that move out of the city.”


We’re choosing happiness over hustle

Paying high rent to be close to your job –  but locked out of the property market – is less desirable than ever. It can feel like a vicious cycle and, unfortunately, the pandemic shone a bright light on that when we found ourselves working from home. Studies are showing that more Millennials are leaving the city centres that they famously revived. Ben Kerrisk from Gardian Real Estate in Mackay, QLD says “There are plenty of work opportunities in Mackay with our unemployment rate still one of the lowest in the country, plus the chance for young families to enjoy beach-side or rural lifestyle living. We’ve experienced very little impact from COVID lockdowns so people are starting to appreciate the area more and more. That means we’re seeing both city-dwellers moving up but also locals staying put.” 


We’ve got lockdown fatigue

Usually you’d see an influx of people moving from regional towns to the big cities each year as they moved ‘towards opportunity’. In the last 18 months, however, we have seen more people stay put in regional towns. Given lockdowns, people in regional communities have had less of a reason to move, while city dwellers wonder if moving represents a symbolic or actual freedom.


Remote work is working

Many of us have been doing it and we agree that we’re still doing our job pretty well all the same, thank you! Businesses have largely witnessed just how efficient and ‘same as normal’ teams and employees can function without having to work in an office. Some are even taking on a ‘half in, half out’ approach to regional living. Mr Turner from Bellarine Property goes on to say, “In the last year we’ve seen a lot of Melburnians move down here, upgrading their holiday home to something more permanent. A lot of them are keeping their houses in Melbourne, opting to either live between the two or just keep that door open without fully jumping into the regional scene.”


House prices and the cost of living

This is the big one. Australia has just ticked over a country-wide median house price of $1million. With house prices growing faster than most wages, it’s no surprise that it could take the average couple many years to save for a house or unit in a capital city. This reason alone has many considering moving away from capital cities to more regional parts of Australia, where the opportunity for diligent savers to buy their perfect home and on bigger blocks of land is more of a reality. 

Most of our capital city prices are more expensive than many regional areas. REIV data released in July 2021 showed that while the median house price in metropolitan Melbourne is now $1,010,000, it sits around $559,500 in regional Victoria. And people are cottoning on. According to REIV, “Regional Victoria’s 10.5 per cent quarterly growth and almost 20 per cent annual growth in house prices – the highest on record – reaffirms the trend in tree or sea change investment and relocation.” 

Unless your idea of ‘moving regional’ is shacking up in Byron Bay with the Hemsworths, leaving inner-city suburbs for up-and-coming regional areas opens up a whole new world of affordable and beautiful homes to choose from, and often with much bigger pieces of land.

Mornington Peninsula aerial Property block view with sea in background
Whether it’s being close to the beach or nestled away from it all, regional living has its perks.

Here are our top out-of-the-city picks for Homely property seekers:

Geelong, VIC 

Merimbula, NSW

Mackay, QLD

Noosa, QLD

Mornington, VIC

Mandurah, WA

Port Macquarie, NSW

Newcastle, NSW

Victor Harbor, SA

Port Lincoln, SA


Ready to make the move? Here are our 6 tips for property seekers looking to move out of the city

Geelong House backyard with deck and outdoor dining area
More space on bigger blocks for less, like this Geelong property


Find an area you like that is not too far from the city you know and love.

Turner suggests that a smart move right now is to find a regional area you like that is not too far from the city you know and love. Having that convenience an hour or so away means you’re close enough for the odd trip into the office or catch up with friends when the time calls. 

Do your research on upcoming infrastructure.

This can not only help make your travel back to the city faster when you need it but also potentially increase the value of your new home in the future

Discover whether the area is right for you.

Homely’s suburb reviews and local discussion forums can help you narrow down the area that suits you and ask the locals questions too. 

Take a road trip, but travel as a local.

Look at schools, shopping centres, streets you’ve researched and even time yourself to and from local amenities.

Visit some local agents.

Meet with a local agent in the area to discuss what properties are on offer. You’ll build local relationships and get a head start on the search.

Get looking today.

With many being locked into their cities or states on and off for the last 18 months, we have seen a rise in properties changing hands without new owners ever stepping foot in the home or neighbourhood – making these regional markets all the more competitive and full of demand. Discover your sea change now.


Port Macquarie House Lounge with warm white decor and trees outside
Port Macquarie – Many move for the lifestyle factor and better weather.

The future is bright for regional living

Experts suggest that while the regional ‘boom’ has slowed – with median house price increases in some regional areas now levelling out to match that of our major cities if not fall slightly behind – the longer COVID takes us in and out of lockdown, the more steady shifting from city to regional we will continue to see. Whether it’s the cost of living, a new appreciation for flexible work life or just the realisation that it’s time for a change, regional living can be a great option for you and your family. 

Search regional listings today

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Marika Berney
Marika is the Marketing & Communications Manager at Homely and property enthusiast. Homely is an industry-backed platform with user-friendly property listings, millions of helpful suburb reviews from locals and agent profiles to help better connect homeowners with the resources they need to sell, buy and lease.

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