Regional exodus calls for housing reforms – REIA

With one in five city dwellers looking to move to the suburbs, steps must be taken to address supply and cost, industry body says

Regional exodus calls for housing reforms – REIA

Around one in five city dwellers would like to “go country”, according to a new survey by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI). That means reforms are needed to improve limited supply, inadequate infrastructure and spiking housing costs in regional areas, according to the Real Estate Institute of Australia.

“Affordability is a key factor in the regions being seen as better environments in which to raise a family and live a healthier, happier lifestyle,” said REIA President Adrian Kelly. “The pandemic and ability to work from home has amplified the attraction.”

However, the trend has created a lack of supply in the regions for both purchase and rent, which, in turn, is driving up prices.

“This will cause issues for long-term locals who have been used to lower rents and availability of choice, which are both now on the decline,” Kelly said.

Kelly said the exodus to regional areas was a double-edged sword for longtime residents. On the one hand, regional towns need new residents who spend money and generate employment. On the other, the influx is adding to supply issues.

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“More work needs to be done about supply, and this obviously includes building more homes,” Kelly said. “Municipal councils can play an active role in this by streamlining processes for construction of regular homes in terms of reducing time and costs.”

The RAI research found that 20% of city residents are looking to move to the regions, with more than half of those wanting to relocate within the next 12 months. More than 69% of those surveyed said that reducing stress and anxiety was a major driver in considering a move to regional areas. Seventy percent cited traffic congestion as another major factor, and 68% cited cost of living.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly raised the desire to move to regional Australia, more than half of survey respondents who wanted to move said they were considering it even before the pandemic, RAI found.

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