Top 10 regions attracting investors

Queensland has dominated a new ranking of regional locations for investment potential, affordability and sustainable growth prospects, as the migration of residents to the Sunshine State continues at pace.

Whitsunday Airlie Beach Aerial shot
Housing estates in Airlie Beach, in the Whitsunday LGA, are among Australia's most attractive for investment. Photo: Shutterstock (Image source:

Queensland has dominated a new ranking of regional locations for investment potential, affordability and sustainable growth prospects, as the migration of residents to the Sunshine State continues at pace.

National residential agency network PRD Real Estate named the Whitsunday local government area as Australia’s stand-out regional area due to its relative affordability and solid fundamentals for sustainable future growth.

Mackay, the sugar capital of Australia, made the relatively sweet claim to second spot on the list, while Toowoomba, 125 kilometres inland from Brisbane showed that tree-changers were driving a wave of inwards regional migration just as much as sea-changers.

Based on the criteria of affordability, price growth trends, rental prospects, infrastructure and employment, the PRD report determined its top ten regional investment prospects as:

Whitsunday LGA | QLD

Mackay LGA | QLD

Toowoomba LGA | QLD

Port Stephens LGA | NSW

Greater Hume Region | NSW

Federation LGA | NSW

Greater Bendigo City | VIC

Greater Geelong LGA | VIC

Warrnambool LGA | VIC

Circular Head LGA | TAS

Regional areas became Australia's most attractive property investment option throughout 2020, with evidence of buyers capitalising on lower median property prices.

The PRD Stand Out Regions report highlighted the affordability of regional areas along the east coast and in Tasmania. These areas not only have median price affordability, but also provide strong indicators for property investment, local employment growth, and a sustainable economic future, the report said.

PRD chief economist Diaswati Mardiasmo said housing affordability is now an issue more than ever, especially within metro capital cities. 

“For first home buyers and investors, finding an affordable option in capital cities can be challenging,” Dr Mardiasmo said.

“The state average loan only makes up about half of the median house price in Sydney and Melbourne at 53.3 per cent and 53.8 per cent, respectively, whereas those in Hobart and Brisbane enjoy greater affordability, with the state average loan chewing up 63.3 per cent and 76.9 per cent, respectively, of each capital city’s median house price.”

Regional migration

Internal migration data produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has shown growing net losses from Australia’s capital cities through internal migration, with the impact primarily in Melbourne and Sydney. Brisbane has bucked the trend with net gains, as has regional Queensland.

The latest ABS data shows a substantial increase in those aged 25-44 making the move to regional Australia, soaring by 270% from September quarter 2019 to September 2020.

A survey by Bastion Insights, Adapting to the New Normal, showed that nationally 16 per cent of people said they would be likely/very likely to move to the regions, with Victorians topping the list at almost 1 in 4 (23 per cent).

But those looking for work are less likely to move regionally (13 per cent looking for work compared to 18 per cent working), which tends to suggest workers feel they will be able to work remotely and avoid the commute.

The most prominent demographic groups looking to move regionally are those aged 30-39 years (21 per cent), but those looking for work are less likely to move regionally.

In Bendigo, law firm Robertson Hyetts reported a 67 per cent rise in property transactions over summer in the Victorian regional city, compared to the same time last year. 

First home buyers, families and retiring baby boomers are part of the noticeable wave of regional migration after COVID-19. 

Robertson Hyetts Director Janelle Brown said spring and summer were some of the firm’s busiest. 

“We saw a big increase in buyers purchasing vacant land in spring and that didn’t slow down in the new year. 

“City people are plotting a move to Bendigo where they can split their working week between home and office. 

“The lockdowns appear to be prompting people to reassess their living and working lifestyle, whether that be a desire to continue working from home for part of the week, or wanting a larger garden for their children to play in,” Ms Brown said. 

“Regional Victoria has plenty to offer in terms of work and lifestyle benefits for those dreaming of more space, while still being close to Melbourne. 

“Our clients are telling us that securing their ideal parcel of land, or dream house, is becoming more important to them,” she said. 

BYO jobs

An initiative launched this month by the Regional Australia Institute and unveiled by Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals Michael McCormack is intended, in part at least, to encourage city dwellers to fill country job vacancies. 

With regional towns now swelling with record numbers of city dwellers already making the move and driving up house prices, the campaign is seen to be misfiring, as most are just taking their city jobs with them.

The grants pay movers $6,000 to relocate to regional areas but even the prime minister appears less than convinced at their efficacy.

“There are 54,000 jobs going in regional Australia, but job seekers are regrettably not filling these jobs,” he said.

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