The Covid mass exodus  



Here we are again


Covid lockdowns feel a lot like groundhog-day for Melbournians. Trapped in a time loop forcing them to relive anxiety, frustration and restrictions repeatedly. The lockdowns have however led a lot of Melbournians to consider escaping Melbourne and indeed Victoria.


A study conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed several interesting findings, including:


  • 15% of all moves between January and June 2020 were forced by the pandemic;
  • 37% of people moving due to COVID moved because they couldn’t afford to live where they were living and
  • the top destination state by the number of overall move-ins was Queensland;


The pandemic has clearly had an impact on Melbourne migration as Melbourne had a higher rate of Covid spread and saw the biggest net losses of population. Also, people have realised they can stay at home to work – manifesting in regional migration.


According to ABS demographer Andrew Howe, greater Melbourne had a net loss of 26,000 people in 2020. He states that “in 2019, that was basically zero and in 2018 more people moved into Melbourne than moved out. The 26,000 net loss over 2020, is the highest net loss for Melbourne on record.” Further, the demographer said Sydney also lost about 30,000 people in net terms, but that was on par with recent decades. Melbourne was substantially different in 2020, whereas, other capitals, not so different,” he said. He said roughly half of that outflow of people from Melbourne went to other parts of Victoria and the others went interstate. In 2020 Melbourne’s large net loss meant regional Victoria actually gained around 13,000 people over the 2020 calendar year.”


Let’s go to Queensland


Melbournians have collectively chosen Qld as the state to go to with a net gain of 30,000 people in 2020. The next closest was Western Australia with 1,385. Mr Andrew Howe said it was the highest net gain of internal migrants for Queensland in more than a decade.


For real estate, we are yet to see the impact.  However, it fair to say it is unlikely beneficial. Qld property prices have soared because of the newly increased demand. Inversely the reactive decisions in Victoria to Covid have made Melbourne a less desirable destination.


Several considerations are made moving state. The weather seems to be top of the list but the price of housing is arguably number two. With great weather and reasonably priced property QLD ticks both boxes. Family and work are also high on the list and ironically covid has facilitated regional migration.


Numbers don’t lie

Interstate migration
 December 2019 quarterSeptember 2020 quarterDecember 2020 quarter
ArrivalsDeparturesNet ArrivalsDeparturesNetArrivalsDeparturesNet
NSW25,75332,536     -6,783  18,97123,081-4,11025,35630,624-5,268


 December 2019 quarterSeptember 2020 quarterDecember 2020 quarter
ArrivalsDeparturesNetArrivals Departures  Net ArrivalsDeparturesNet
Sydney19,96227,994-8,03214,634   22,416-7,78219,35728,674-9,317
Melbourne24,98224,62136114,405   21,850-7,44519,92128,412-8,491
Brisbane25,64820,9124,73618,743   15,5283,21525,31820,5484,770
Adelaide8,0248,823-7995,827     6,161-3347,8698,116-247
Perth12,06711,6034649,167     7,7791,38811,86510,0711,794
Hobart2,1742,279-1051,555     1,717-1622,2342,326-92
Darwin3,2453,766-5212,488     2,48083,6523,393259
Canberra6,0636,014494,127     4,262-1356,5525,853699
Total58,25562,102-3,84741,840   53,087-11,24755,37465,999-10,625


10 benefits of living in Queensland


Covid has also highlighted what people consider important in housing. Major considerations are:

  • a stable economy;
  • affordable housing;
  • the world-class education system and advanced health services;
  • the modern infrastructure of roads and public transport;
  • a safe place for you and your family to live;
  • perfect beaches, national parks, and the ‘outback’;
  • a subtropical and tropical climate and
  • a vibrant cosmopolitan, arts and cultural scene that Melbournians are very aligned with.

Time will tell us how this migration will affect Victoria, but Victoria’s loss is seemingly QLD’s gain -for now.