The Coronavirus pandemic brought with it an interesting, and probably for many, highly unexpected outcome – a boom for the regional areas. Business shutdowns and relocations to working from home gave people time to think about the changes they could make in their own lives to promote a better work-life balance. What COVID-19 showed is that many jobs don’t need to be done in an office, they can just as effectively be done from almost anywhere. The same with many businesses – you don’t need a shopfront to be successful, you just need the dedication and ability to run your business online.
The ABC recently reported that a record 54,000 new job vacancies became available in the October figures – a 13 percent increase on the 2019 figures. According to Liz Ritchie, chief executive of the Regional Australia Institute, these positions including engineers, doctors, lawyers and accountants - well paid roles that are causing those living in the cities to think about their next move.
It is really interesting to look at where those job advertisement figures are coming from.
In NSW – Dubbo and Western NSW are up 92.6%, the Southern highlands and Snowy Mountains are up 55.9% and Tamworth and Northern NSW are up 45.2%. This is compared to the Sydney market which is down 24.7%.
In Queensland, Toowoomba and the South West have increased 35.7%, the Sunshine Coast is up 24.5% and the Gold Coast is up 18.8%. Brisbane is down 8.7%.
The North West region in Tasmania has seen an increase of 26.3% while Hobart is down 4.9% and in Victoria, Melbourne decreased by 38.3% while Bendigo and the High Country went up 5.1%.
So, what does this increase in regional job advertisements on top of the recognition that people can work effectively from home do to house prices and the decentralisation of the inner city and high-density areas?
In most states, capital growth has been increasing across the regional markets between March and October 2020. CoreLogic notes an increase of 3.3% in NSW, 1.6% in QLD, 3.4% in SA and 3.7% in TAS. Areas in regional Victoria, Orange (NSW), Byron Shire (NSW), the Tweed Shire (NSW), Geelong (VIC) and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts (QLD) have been benefiting from the mass exodus of inner-city areas, but whether this trend continues does remain to be seen.
For others, moving out of the inner city and high density living to outer laying suburbs and regions has allowed them to continue working from home while commuting into the office one or two days a week. Being out of high-density living provides more lifestyle options and was certainly seen as beneficial during lock down periods.
Another factor of the decentralisation of inner-city areas is affordability. Once you start to move out of the CBD and into outer suburbs and regional areas, land and property suddenly becomes (in many instances), more affordable, and first home buyers have really been taking advantage of Government incentives, both federal and state.
While we may not see an increase in single family homes being built in some city areas, what we can expect is what is know as medium density living – that is, housing that provides for a small number of families in the one location. These tend to include:
We could also expect to see an increase in low-rise buildings as opposed to the high-rises we have been seeing in recent years.
The full outcome of COVID-19 on decentralisation and the decrease in high density living still needs to be seen, and it may be a little while before we see its full effects. There is however no doubt that many regional areas are currently benefiting from this decentralisation, and bringing life back to our regions can only be a good thing.