Hopeful or Hopeless: [Regional House Price Growth]

7 April 2021

“Property Prices are rising by up to $100,000 a month in Casuarina- Kingscliff area north of Byron Bay.

“Austinmer, about 70 kilometres south of Sydney, jumped by more than 40 per cent in the past 12 months”

These regional house price figures have been scattered across media outlets since the beginning of the pandemic. Is this trend a long-term movement away from cities or a knee-jerk reaction to a global event?

COVID-19 Pandemic and regional house price growth

In the middle of the pandemic lockdown last year. A deserted Bondi Beach was broadcasted across international news. The last time the beach was this empty due to a global crisis was the Second World War when Japanese submarines bombarded the Eastern Suburbs.

I drew parallels between the impact that a global crisis had on the local property market today and back in 1942.

In 1942 after the bombardment. Property prices in the eastern suburbs plummeted with many selling and moving away from the eastern coastline that was vulnerable to a naval attack.

During the pandemic, the main trend to emerge what not changes in property prices directly but changes in the nature of what Australians were looking for. Australians have re-evaluated their lifestyles as shackles to the office desk have been replaced with shackles to the kitchen table. Their need for adequate space to facilitate their lifestyle choices while being price-out of Sydney meant an opportunity in regional towns became apparent. Significant regional house price growth was the result.

Currently, it seems that people have bought into an inflated regional market. With an idealistic notion of what life is like in regional towns without actually living there. A survey conducted by the Regional Australia Institute found that of the 1000 respondents. One in five Australians are now considering moving to a regional town, with the main cohort keen for the shift being people aged 25 to 40.  A key consideration that has been overlooked. Is that people have made these decisions based on their current circumstances while disregarding the future.


A change in employment is certainly a very common life event, especially for people aged in the 25-40 year category. There is a high likelihood that not every employer will cater to every employee’s particular lifestyle decisions. Especially if the candidate is aspiring for more challenging roles with higher salary expectations and more responsibilities. These roles carry a certain risk to employers without proper oversight of their employees.

Natural Disasters

The recent NSW floods have reiterated the lack of infrastructure in these areas. With population growth, the NSW government and local councils have an obligation to provide sufficient infrastructure to support these communities. State governments usually plan public projects through the completion of mutually agreed population targets with local councils. Rarely do they proactively provide infrastructure as there is the potential waste of taxpayer money. More evident is if these population targets are not met and infrastructure is underutilised. The case for huge infrastructure projects in regional towns would be pushed through sustained population growth coupled with economic development including job creation.

Social and Family relationships

Family and friends play an integral role in the quality of life that we enjoy. A geographic move for lifestyle fails to account for the support and reliance we have on having friends and family within a short car ride. They help to drop the kids off; to share a wine after a busy week. A one-hour drive is not long, but a casual get-together must be scheduled, planned, and organised well in advance and never impromptu.

Even regional property as an investment or holiday home. What would be the realistic return on investment? There is the possibility of Airbnb and short-term holiday leases to provide rental yield. But if borders open up tomorrow and the threat of contracting the virus was gone. Would the demand for local travel remain?


If history is any guide to our current situation. After the Second World War, Australia saw a huge influx of European migration as a result house prices bounced back above pre-war levels. Could we assume? That after this pandemic that there will be another influx of overseas immigration based on Australia’s efficacy in handling the pandemic? Could we see regional house prices returning back to pre-pandemic levels? How will that affect regional house price growth?

Alexander Gibson

Are you thinking about moving to a regional town?

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