Australians are being urged to move to regional areas as part of a national campaign but for the Sunshine Coast the change is already happening.
The Regional Australia Institute ‘Move to More’ campaign wants city-dwellers to view regions as an attractive and viable alternative where there are more opportunities for an affordable lifestyle and better work-life balance.
It’s an approach the Sunshine Coast Council has been promoting for many years and one which is gradually delivering good and challenging outcomes.
RAI chief economist Dr Kim Houghton reports advertised job vacancies have changed during the last 10 years with “a steady decline in low skilled jobs and steady rise in high skilled jobs”.
“A great sign of diversification into higher value industries,” he adds.
Sunshine Coast Chamber Alliance chair Wallis Westbrook notes he is seeing a range of professional service business owners moving to the Coast and bringing their families with them.
The ripple effect is more opportunities for local employment. “They are taking on rent of commercial premises, offices or retail space which produces extra dollars into the economy,” Mr Westbrook says.
“We know that is causing some issues with housing, and rent particularly, but we see that migration as a good thing as it helps us build a stronger economy and will attract more people to the Coast.”
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Project Urban managing director Andrew Stevens says the current migration numbers “are starting to go through the roof”.
But he also adds: “We haven’t been supplying enough property on the Coast for the last five years” which is now reflected in the sale prices and rental returns.
As a consequence, the pressure on the residential market is set to stay.
“As demand remains high, property prices will only go one way,” Mr Stevens adds.
Neither Mr Westbrook nor Sunshine Coast Business Council chair Sandy Zubrinich see the demographic change as solely a result of COVID.
“The Coast has been experiencing above the State average growth rate for really a long time,” Ms Zubrinich says.
Apart from an attractive and more affordable lifestyle, the Coast’s significant infrastructure investment, the international broadband cable connectivity opportunities, entrepreneur support and transport access are proving powerful attractions for business owners.
Ms Zubrinich adds the proposals for a food and beverage manufacturing hub, and the airport developing a freight and logistics hub, will provide further economic stimulus and employment for the Coast.