AHURI BRIEF

Where do households move over a lifetime?

Tracking the migration patterns of households within Australian cities

Last updated 5 September 2018

This is the first of two AHURI Briefs that examines Census data to understand how households migrate within Australian cities over a lifetime. It looks at the migration patterns of the 15-24 and 24-44 age cohorts. The second Brief will examine the 45-65 and 65+ age cohorts.


Australian households have different housing requirements at different times in their lives. Household migration patterns within Australia reflect the various drivers of migration including employment, study, housing affordability and even retirement.

The ABS records the internal migration patterns within Australia using people’s change of address as registered with Medicare, and presents the information for land areas that approximate local government areas. The latest available data to include local government area migration is for 2015-16. It does not include people who apply for their first Medicare card number (i.e. new born babies and new international migrants) or people who cease to have a Medicare card number (i.e. people who permanently migrate overseas or who die).

Examining this ABS data brings to light a nuanced story of different households moving to specific areas at different times in their lives.

15–24 age group migration: inner-city aspirationals and early-nesters

By considering some of the common migration patterns outlined above, two divergent migration groups within the 15-24 age group could be suggested: the first group are 'inner-city aspirationals', possibly made up of young workers and students, moving to inner city suburbs (labelled M for 'metropolitan' in the tables), while the second group are 'early-nesters' (potentially young couples and families moving to outer suburbs (labelled MFR for 'metropolitan fringe') and regional city areas (labelled RC).

The separate migration patterns of the two groups can be deduced when looking at the migration of young children (the youngest 0-14 age cohort). The inner city suburbs have large negative migration numbers of 0–14 year olds while the outer suburbs and regional areas have large increases in 0–14 year olds. This could reflect the migration of early-nesters—young families leaving the inner-city with their young children to move into outer suburbs and regional areas.

For example, in Victoria the difference in migration patterns for 15-24 year olds between the most migrated to suburbs, Melbourne city and Whittlesea-Wallan shows this pattern. Melbourne city is a hub of employment and education likely the reason for the large growth in 15-24 year olds while 0–14 year old children move out (with their families), whereas Whittlesea-Wallan is an area of new housing developments and has a very large number of 0–14 children likely to be moving into the area with their families.

Victoria's top 10 most migrated to regions/suburbs (ranked by 15–24 age group)
Region/suburb 0–14 age group 15–24 age group Suburb type

Melbourne City

-452

1294

M

Whittlesea - Wallan

1019

741

MFR

Stonnington - West

-314

692

M

Yarra

-426

686

M

Port Phillip

-533

642

M

Brunswick - Coburg

-548

635

M

Geelong

392

595

RC

Cardinia

979

584

MFR

Melton - Bacchus Marsh

977

500

MFR

Ballarat

212

440

RC

Suburb type descriptors: M = metropolitan, MFR = metropolitan fringe, RC = regional city, R = rural/regional. These are broad descriptions of the suburb’s characteristics.

25–44 age group migration: fleeing to family housing

A pattern identified in the 25–44 age cohort is a move towards metropolitan outer fringe suburbs and to regional city areas. These households are likely to feature couples forming families and wanting more affordable housing, perhaps with enough outdoor space for their children to play in. Indeed, in each of the five states, the top ten suburbs with the greatest numbers of 25–44 year olds moving out were, in the vast majority of cases, metropolitan outer fringe suburbs.

In Queensland and South Australia migration patterns of 25–44 year olds follow this arrangement very closely.

In NSW the shift to outer suburbs holds for nine of the ten top suburbs; only Botany, an inner city suburb which includes Mascot airport and its associated transport hub, shows a move by 25–44 year olds to be closer to employment opportunities.

In Victoria very similar migration patterns apply as in NSW, even down to the boost in workers moving to the Tullamarine – Broadmeadows area which includes Tullamarine airport and its associated transport hub.

Western Australia shows a slightly different pattern, with households moving to suburbs that are still relatively close to the inner city regions rather than outer suburbs. This may be a reflection of cheaper housing due to declining house prices in Perth as the mining boon winds down.

NSW's top 10 most migrated to regions/suburbs (ranked by 25–44 age group)
Region/suburb 0–14 age group 25–44 age group Suburb type

Bringelly - Green Valley

937

1569

MFR

Blacktown - North

359

1052

MFR

Camden

436

814

MFR

Tweed Valley

452

752

RC

Botany

-3

663

M

Penrith

199

635

MFR

Richmond Valley - Coastal

301

535

RC

Rouse Hill - McGraths Hill

265

474

MFR

Maitland

293

454

RC

Shoalhaven (Nowra)

96

451

RC

Suburb type descriptors: M = metropolitan, MFR = metropolitan fringe, RC = regional city, R = rural/regional. These are broad descriptions of the suburb’s characteristics.

Additional data

Expand the options below for additional data for selected states.

Top 10 most migrated to regions/suburbs in NSW, QLD, SA,  and WA (ranked by 15–24 age group).

Additional data in tables for each of the states of NSW, QLD, SA,  and WA.

NSW top 10 most migrated to regions/suburbs (ranked by 15–24 age group)
Region/suburb 0–14 age group 15-24 age group Suburb type

Sydney Inner City

-942

1375

M

Newcastle

-115

539

RC

Bringelly - Green Valley

937

392

MFR

Penrith

199

368

MFR

North Sydney - Mosman

-561

317

M

Eastern Suburbs - North

-415

315

M

Camden

436

287

MFR

Campbelltown (NSW)

208

263

MFR

Botany

-3

233

M

Leichhardt

-331

221

M

Suburb type descriptors: M = metropolitan, MFR = metropolitan fringe, RC = regional city, R = rural/regional. These are broad descriptions of the suburb’s characteristics.

QLD top 10 most migrated to regions/suburbs (ranked by 15–24 age group)
Region/suburb 0–14 age group 15-24 age group Suburb type

North Lakes

650

959

MFR

Brisbane Inner

-21

842

M

Ormeau - Oxenford

1657

705

MFR

Brisbane Inner - West

57

581

M

Brisbane Inner - North

62

505

M

Holland Park - Yeronga

-469

500

M

Springfield - Redbank

169

425

MFR

Chermside

-296

376

M

Sherwood - Indooroopilly

83

310

M

Townsville

51

306

RC

Suburb type descriptors: M = metropolitan, MFR = metropolitan fringe, RC = regional city, R = rural/regional. These are broad descriptions of the suburb’s characteristics.

SA top 10 most migrated to regions/suburbs (ranked by 15–24 age group)
Region/suburb 0–14 age group 15-24 age group Suburb type

Port Adelaide - East

-236

202

M

Marion

-373

154

M

Adelaide City

-139

125

M

Charles Sturt

-210

112

M

Gawler - Two Wells

222

99

MFR

Norwood - Payneham - St Peters

-145

80

M

Playford

57

73

MFR

Yorke Peninsula

40

25

R

Salisbury

-297

18

M

Unley

-9

-6

M

Suburb type descriptors: M = metropolitan, MFR = metropolitan fringe, RC = regional city, R = rural/regional. These are broad descriptions of the suburb’s characteristics.

WA top 10 most migrated to regions/suburbs (ranked by 15–24 age group)
Region/suburb 0–14 age group 25–44 age group Suburb type

Perth City

-200

674

M

Swan

800

399

MFR

Rockingham

546

339

MFR

Wanneroo

127

284

MFR

Belmont - Victoria Park

-563

227

M

Serpentine - Jarrahdale

452

165

MFR

Mandurah

298

151

MFR

Kwinana

23

135

M

Armadale

91

129

M

Cockburn

-243

118

M

Suburb type descriptors: M = metropolitan, MFR = metropolitan fringe, RC = regional city, R = rural/regional. These are broad descriptions of the suburb’s characteristics.

Top 10 most migrated to regions/suburbs VIC, QLD, SA, and WA (ranked by 25–44 age group)

Additional data in tables for each of the states of VIC, QLD, SA,  and WA.

VIC top 10 most migrated to regions/suburbs (ranked by 25-44 age group)
Region/suburb 0–14 age group 25–44 age group Suburb type

Wyndham

1199

3343

MFR

Whittlesea - Wallan

1019

2601

MFR

Casey - South

1107

2537

MFR

Melton - Bacchus Marsh

977

1785

MFR

Cardinia

979

1547

MFR

Tullamarine - Broadmeadows

442

1086

M

Surf Coast - Bellarine Peninsula

512

591

RC

Kingston

1

561

M

Frankston

-55

518

M

Yarra Ranges

226

429

MFR

Suburb type descriptors: M = metropolitan, MFR = metropolitan fringe, RC = regional city, R = rural/regional. These are broad descriptions of the suburb’s characteristics.

QLD top 10 most migrated to regions/suburbs (ranked by 25-44 age group)
Region/suburb 0–14 age group 25–44 age group Suburb type

Ormeau - Oxenford

1657

2442

MFR

North Lakes

650

1634

MFR

Springfield - Redbank

169

842

MFR

Cleveland - Stradbroke

515

762

MFR

Caloundra

500

689

MFR

Hills District

347

504

MFR

Ipswich Hinterland

214

419

MFR

Buderim

297

393

MFR/R

Nambour - Pomona

402

322

MFR

Sunshine Coast Hinterland

189

300

MFR

Suburb type descriptors: M = metropolitan, MFR = metropolitan fringe, RC = regional city, R = rural/regional. These are broad descriptions of the suburb’s characteristics.

SA top 10 most migrated to regions/suburbs (ranked by 25-44 age group)
Region/suburb 0–14 age group 25–44 age group Suburb type

Fleurieu - Kangaroo Island

89

253

R

Playford

57

187

MFR

Barossa

117

178

R

Gawler - Two Wells

222

177

MFR

Adelaide Hills

123

95

MFR

Onkaparinga

187

60

MFR

Yorke Peninsula

40

48

R

Lower North

24

35

R

Tea Tree Gully

8

3

MFR

Port Adelaide - East

-236

-27

M

Suburb type descriptors: M = metropolitan, MFR = metropolitan fringe, RC = regional city, R = rural/regional. These are broad descriptions of the suburb’s characteristics.

WA top 10 most migrated to regions/suburbs (ranked by 25-44 age group)
Region/suburb 0–14 age group 25–44 age group Suburb type

Swan

800

1729

MFR

Wanneroo

127

1397

M

Armadale

91

1150

M

Serpentine - Jarrahdale

452

788

MFR

Kwinana

23

739

M

Rockingham

546

703

M

Augusta - Margaret River - Busselton

292

548

RC

Mandurah

298

307

MFR

Cockburn

-243

132

M

Mundaring

127

113

MFR

Suburb type descriptors: M = metropolitan, MFR = metropolitan fringe, RC = regional city, R = rural/regional. These are broad descriptions of the suburb’s characteristics.