Sydney, Melbourne exodus not over yet

The number of people moving to Sydney and Melbourne is roughly half the number leaving.
The number of people moving to Sydney and Melbourne is roughly half the number leaving.

Australians are still deserting Melbourne and Sydney in droves and moving to Brisbane or Perth, according to an online removalist booking company.

"We are a good proxy of the total people moving house in Australia - you would not look at our site unless you wanted to move," Adam Coward from Muval told AAP.

Based on the site's tens of thousands of inquiries each month, which closely track official interstate migration data, Melbourne saw a net annual migration of -54 per cent up till the end of November.

That compares to three per cent positive net migration in January 2020 before the pandemic hit and -64 per cent during the city's lockdown in September this year.

In Sydney, net migration was -47 per cent to the end of last month, after reaching -58 per cent during lockdowns in August.

The figures show the number of people moving to the two capitals is roughly half the number leaving.

"It's been probably the highest migration we've ever seen ... there has been 40 to 50 per cent growth in interstate movement out of Melbourne and Sydney over the last year," Mr Coward said.

So if people have had enough of Australia's two biggest cities, where are they going?

According to Muval's data, Brisbane is the most popular destination, with net migration of +78 per cent for the year ending 30 November.

People are also keen on moves to the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, with Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Hervey Bay and Cairns popular.

Regional centres including Newcastle, Wollongong and Ballarat are also attracting interest.

Mr Coward said Muval's data is significant given a current lack of official figures on migration trends, data that is usually collected when people update their address with Medicare.

"There has been a whole change in migration habits in Australia and there are so many downstream implications," he said.

The bureau of statistics was due to publish its latest estimates last week but cancelled the release citing an unusually high number of Medicare address updates due to mass COVID-19 vaccinations.

"This represents an improvement in the Medicare address data but it is highly likely many of the address updates do not reflect moves which happened in the June 2021 quarter," the ABS stated.

The most recent set of data, from the March 2021 quarter, showed capital cities experienced a net loss of 11,800 people, the largest quarterly net loss on record.

More than 100,000 people moved interstate during the three months to March.

About 7000 people moved to Queensland, while 4900 people left Victoria and 4500 departed NSW.

Muval predicts the high levels of interstate moves will continue, with expected business growth of 40 per cent over December and January, as people rush to book in moves before the school year begins.

Melbourne's population is forecast to reach 6.2 million by 2030-31, with Sydney at six million.

Australian Associated Press