INDUSTRY NEWSNationalReal Estate News

Homebuyers cautious of potential natural disasters when moving to regions

Three-quarters of Australians would consider moving to a large regional centre under the right circumstances but are wary of the risk of extreme weather events, according to new research.

A new Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) report, titled ‘Understanding what attracts new residents to smaller cities’, found that risks, including bushfire, floods and drought, were the main concerns city dwellers had with regional areas.

The study found that 72 per cent of people surveyed said extreme heat and bushfire was the biggest factor they were concerned with, followed by floods and flash floods at 66 per cent, and drought and water shortage at 62 per cent.

The report found 16 per cent of those surveyed were happy living in larger cities, with three-quarters prepared to move under the right conditions.

According to the report, the Australian population is expected to double between 2016 and 2066, and approximately 55 per cent of this growth is expected to occur in Australia’s two largest cities of Sydney and Melbourne.

Lead author, Associate Professor Akshay Vij of the University of South Australia, said it’s important to look at strategies to help disperse population growth that would alleviate pressure on major urban areas.

“Our research found that when it comes to having a preference to live in smaller cities, there are four groups of Australians: those who prefer large cities (16 per cent of the population); those who have a preference for smaller cities (21 per cent); those who don’t mind either way (54 per cent); those who have a very strong preference for living in smaller cities (9 per cent),” Professor Vij said.

While extreme weather events were an important factor in whether people would move to smaller cities, a large portion of the respondents, including young individuals and parents with young families, would consider moving if there were comparable work opportunities and education.

Older workers and retirees were more interested in lifestyle factors and were more focused on quality of life, quality of local healthcare, and housing and other living costs when making a decision to move to a regional location.

Professor Vij said there are a number of steps government can take to incentivise people to move to regional areas, including focusing on job creation, establishing higher education institutions, and developing infrastructure for post-retirement living.

“Government policies to attract people to smaller regional cities would be best targeted at those middle two groups, who make up 75 per cent of the population, as they appear more open to moving to a mid-sized city under the right circumstances,” he said.

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a senior journalist at Elite Agent specialising in finance and real estate.