Why is an interstate migration to Queensland taking place?

Australians are heading north in record numbers—and more are expected to follow

Why is an interstate migration to Queensland taking place?


By Jonathan Russell

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents from Australia’s southern states have been moving to Queensland in record numbers. Queensland’s pandemic response, the housing affordability in Brisbane compared to Sydney and Melbourne, and the extra emphasis of state-of-the-art infrastructure ahead of the 2032 Olympics have all been cited as reasons why. But there are others. Here is what you need to know about interstate migration to Queensland.

What is the net interstate migration for Queensland?

Net interstate migration is the difference between the number of people moving into a state, in this case Queensland, and the number moving out. After two years of COVID-19 lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria, Queensland is expecting an increase in interstate migration in 2022. According to a Centre for Population report published in December 2021, 105,100 out-of-state arrivals are estimated to move to Queensland throughout the year.

Within a year (ending in June 2021), Queensland saw more than 90% of net interstate migration, with 30,939 making the move—representing the most significant annual increase since 2004, when 35,498 migrated. Within the last quarter of 2020, the net figure was 9,728, the highest quarterly increase since December 2003.

Since it has historically been a highly sought-after destination for interstate migrants, and has avoided lengthy COVID-19 lockdowns, Queensland is predicted to see an even larger increase in net interstate migration. In 2031-32, for instance, the total population of Queensland is expected to rise to 6 million from 5.2 million in 2020-21. By comparison, Australia’s total population is expected to rise to 29.3 million in 2032 from 25.7 million in 2020.

What impact will interstate migration have on Queensland’s property market?

Property prices in South East Queensland, in particular, are expected to hit record highs in the coming years due to the 2032 Olympics, increasing jobs, and interstate migration. Over the past year, Queensland’s lifestyle markets in the South East have seen the highest growth rate, and Brisbane’s quarterly growth rate is continuing to trend higher.

These market conditions are due to a couple of factors. One is historically low listings and a median property value of roughly $760,000, which is 23.3% lower than Melbourne and 44.3% lower than Sydney. Queensland also saw the largest net interstate migration in the entire country, with an increase of 28.2% over the year ending in March 2021.

With property prices rising by a record amount in 2021, experts are predicting prices to drop in 2023 as interest rates rise. Some note, however, that COVID-19 has the potential to impact that market correction and keep property prices higher than expected for a couple more years.

Brisbane continues to be the capital city to watch in 2022, while the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast are still too hot to see a bust in the near term. In 2021, Queensland’s home prices increased by 25% but remained more affordable than Melbourne and Sydney.

Is net interstate migration good news for Queensland?

The general view is that population growth spurs growth in cities and towns, as well as a greater demand for healthy, safe, and accessible housing and common spaces. Population growth can also help grow employment and the economy. In fact, despite a series of economic challenges which included the COVID-19 pandemic, floods, and the global effects of the war in Ukraine, the economy in Queensland has actually grown. Compared to pre-COVID-19 levels, the Queensland economy is 7.8% bigger and outperforming Australia’s national average, as well as the major southern states.

While housing affordability and supply are ongoing and complex issues—especially with more and more people moving to Queensland—the state has unlocked over 46,000 lots across the South East and is bringing forward thousands more.

Top reasons why people are migrating to Queensland

Over the next five years, it is estimated that roughly 220,000 people will leave Australia’s southern states and migrate to Queensland, according to a Property Council of Australia (PCA) survey. The survey asked 1,000 residents in Victoria and Sydney how likely they were to move to Queensland within the next five years, with 5% of respondents saying they would “probably” or “definitely” make that move. The top reasons why people said they would migrate to Queensland are for the lifestyle, climate, and housing affordability.


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