Australian tenants dismiss the city life and opt for regional living


COVID-19 lockdowns have presented the opportunity to work and learn from just about anywhere. As a result, Australian tenants craving a sea or tree change are seeking new lifestyles away from locked down cities. 


Inner-city regions have always been hot pockets for tenants – living close to the action provides them with top lifestyle bragging rights and short commutes to and from work and study.


However, with limited opportunities to enjoy Australian cities during the health crisis, tenants’ priorities have shifted.


New data comparing views per listing in April 2020 to August 2020 shows a huge spike in renter interest in Australia’s regional and coastal areas, while the traditionally popular inner-city regions have become less popular.


“There has been a lot of talk about people going to move further afield – we’re now actually starting to see the evidence of that,” said Cameron Kusher,’s executive manager of economic research.


Mr Kusher said the declining interest in inner-city rentals is compounded by international border closures, which have severely impacted the ability for people to migrate to Australian cities. 


Holiday destinations are now the top choices for tenants


Popular holiday destinations are becoming the go-to living choices for Australian tenants, who could be encouraged by their new work-from-home arrangements and a strong desire for more space and natural surroundings.


Rental properties in the West Australian region of Augusta – Margaret River – Busselton attracted the largest increase in views per listing nationally in August, recording more than +280% growth since April 2020. WA holiday hubs, Serpentine – Jarrahdale and Mandurah also featured in the top ten. 


Coastal Queensland suburbs were popular with tenants, taking up four spots in the top 10 suburbs for largest growth in views per listing. Popular Sunshine Coast regions, Maroochy and Noosa ranked second and fourth respectively, both with more than +200% growth.


Hannah Murray, head of property management at Belle Property in Noosa, said she had seen first hand the huge increase in interest within the area.


“This is usually our quiet period, it’s absolutely insane. I’ve been doing this for probably seven years and I’ve never seen it like this,” Ms Murray said.


In late September, Ms Murray listed a home in Noosaville, which has already had many enquiries from prospective tenants, including from Victoria, New South Wales and even some Americans, she said.


“What I’ve been hearing from a lot of people is that this was always their plan to eventually move to Noosa – to retire, or when the kids are older – and people are attracted to how well we handled COVID in our little Sunshine Coast bubble,” Ms Murray said.

“It’s made a lot of people decide to make the move a lot sooner than they had planned to.


“Before everyone wanted to move here and live here but there weren’t huge work prospects, but now with a lot of people being able to work remotely, a lot of them can make the move.”


Due to Queensland borders remaining closed, with the exception of residents in Northern NSW, prospective tenants from interstate are asking friends to inspect rental properties on their behalf or doing a FaceTime inspection with the agent, Ms Murray said.


The great Melbourne exodus


While regional areas continue to appeal to prospective tenants, inner-city corridors are being given the cold shoulder, especially in Melbourne.


Melbourne areas dominated the list of ten Australian regions with the largest decreases in views per listing in August, taking out all ten spots. Inner-city enclaves, Stonnington West and Stonnington East had the biggest declines in growth, with drops of more than -26%.


As Melbourne continues to face strict lockdown laws under stage four restrictions, the city could be losing its appeal to tenants who seems to be looking beyond city limits.


Regional areas of Victoria, which have recently eased restrictions, have seen a spike in interest from prospective tenants. The idyllic Heathcote – Castlemaine – Kyneton region came in at number one on the list of top five Victorian regions with the largest growth in views per rental listing in August at +176%.


Melbourne tenants would be making big savings by moving to Kyneton where the median weekly rent is $420 compared to $670 in Windsor, a popular suburb in the Stonnington West region.


Will regional and coastal living become the new norm for tenants?

While many workplaces remain closed due to COVID-19, remote working allows tenants to choose a new lifestyle – one they may not have had the opportunity to have before.


But as virus cases continue to decline across Australia, workplaces will begin to reopen and interest in regional and coastal regions could start to ease off again, according to Mr Kusher.


“As Australian cities start to reopen retail, hospitality and entertainment options, tenants are likely to be lured back, and if international borders open and students are able to enter the country, city rental suburbs will regain popularity,” he added.


For now, tenants are just trying to live their best lives.



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