Millennials opt for regional towns, figures show

Millennials opt for regional towns, figures show

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TREE CHANGE: James, Ivy, Sara, and Aaron Johnston made the move to Wagga from Ashfield in Sydney, and they haven't regretted their decision one bit. Picture: Les Smith

TREE CHANGE: James, Ivy, Sara, and Aaron Johnston made the move to Wagga from Ashfield in Sydney, and they haven't regretted their decision one bit. Picture: Les Smith

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Capital cities such as Sydney and Melbourne are experiencing a net loss of young workers.

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More millennials are ditching the city life in favour of regional towns, according to figures published by the Regional Australia Institute yesterday.

Capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne are seeing a net loss of young workers, with Regional NSW being the biggest drawcard for those aged between 24 and 39.

Such was the case for 28-year-old teacher Elliot Lee, who made the tree-change from the shores of Newcastle and has not looked back since.

Mr Lee and his wife managed to buy a house together in Wagga's CBD, which Mr Lee says would cost at least twice as much in Newcastle.

"We thoroughly enjoy being walking distance from everything in a house we own," Mr Lee said.

"We live in central, yet within a 10-minute jog I can be at Willans Hill near the river. The pace of living is really lovely."

He said he does miss the beaches of Newcastle, but that the rivers, the nature walks, and the Wagga Beach more than make up for it.

Wagga-born Cassie Reardon moved to Melbourne for job opportunities, but she returned after the homesickness started settling in.

"I wanted to experience the big city life, and at the time I was planning to stay there long-term but as time went by you start to miss the little things you can only get in regional areas," Ms Reardon said.

"You miss the quick commutes to work and not having to pay so much for housing."

The 25-year-old was able to buy a house in Wagga for herself and her partner, a carpenter who is looking forward to getting stuck into some DIY.

Millennial Sara Johnston started a family in Sydney, where she lived in a "very cramped" two-bedroom apartment with her husband and two children.

"Now we've got our own house, backyard, sandpit, swings, which we never would have been able to have in Sydney," Mrs Johnston said.

"The community's been very welcoming, and from day one we were able to make new friends.

"I think Sydney people have their own groups that they stick to, but here people are a lot more welcoming."

After moving to Wagga she got a job at Regional Development Australia, which is currently collecting stories of other people who have made the shift to regional Australia.

Regional Australia Institute chief executive Liz Ritchie predicts the exodus to regional Australia will grow even more pronounced post-coronavirus, as young workers discover the possibilities of working remotely.

"If location is no longer a barrier for employment, it's possible that the trend line over the next decade could see an even greater swing to regions," Ms Ritchie said.

Her thoughts were echoed by member for Riverina Michael McCormack, who said it was a silver lining to be taken from lockdown.

"If the COVID-19 pandemic has proven anything, it's that you can work from regional Australia and do any job. The jobs that were once only attainable if you lived in a capital city can now be done from anywhere," Mr McCormack said.

"This report will encourage even more Australians who have been considering a move, to discover what regional and rural lifestyles have to offer."

The report showed that over five years there was a net flow of 65,000 people from capital cities to the regions.

Between 2011 and 2016, more than 1.2 million people either moved to regional Australia or moved around regional Australia from one location to another.

The story Millennials opt for regional towns, figures show first appeared on The Daily Advertiser.

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