Understanding what attracts new residents to smaller cities
Report Housing aspirations and careers Economy Housing in urban policy

Understanding what attracts new residents to smaller cities

Final Report No. 375

Date Published: 24 Mar 2022

Authors: Akshay Vij Ali Ardeshiri Tiebei Li Andrew Beer Laura Crommelin

This research examines key drivers of migration flows and settlement patterns across Australia, and identifies key barriers to and opportunities for greater population decentralisation.

This study uses data visualisation techniques to develop a high-level visual understanding of how migration flows have varied historically across different sub-populations, undertakes a macroeconomic analysis of migration patterns as a function of their local economy, infrastructure and natural environment, and develops a microeconomic model of individual preferences for settlement in different urban and regional centres.

Migration and settlement patterns in Australia are driven by a combination of factors relating to population size, location, economy, amenities and the environment. In general, roughly three-quarters of those surveyed by the study are willing to move to a mid-sized city under the right circumstances. On average, respondents perceive mid-sized cities to offer significantly better quality of life, and large cities to offer better access to employment and education opportunities, and urban amenities.

In the next 50 years, Australia’s population is predicted to double. Much of this growth is expected to be concentrated in major metropolitan centres that are already struggling to provide the requisite infrastructure needed to support their populations. More dispersed population growth strategies could help alleviate some of these urban pressures. However, for these strategies to succeed, the recent decline in regional populations needs to be reversed. In addition, new residents need to be persuaded to move to regional centres. 

The study uses online survey data collected from roughly 3,000 demographically and geographically representative Australians in February 2021.

DOI: 10.18408/ahuri3226201

Published by: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited

ISSN: 1834-7223

ISBN: 978-1-922498-42-7


Vij, A., Ardeshiri, A., Li, T., Beer, A. and Crommelin, L. (2022) Understanding what attracts new residents to smaller cities, AHURI Final Report No. 375, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne, https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/375, doi: 10.18408/ahuri3226201.

Vij, Akshay
Ardeshiri, Ali
Li, Tiebei
Beer, Andrew
Crommelin, Laura