Demographic data for the September 2014 quarter released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) last week shows the fewest interstate movements in many years over the quarter.

Across Australia, homes are being owned for longer, with the average number of years a capital city house is owned climbing from 6.8 years a decade ago to 10.5 years over the past twelve months.

Demographic data from the ABS showed that over the September 2014 quarter, there were just 70,789 interstate movements by Australian residents. The 70,789 interstate movements over the quarter represents the fewest interstate movements since the December 1993 quarter when there were 70,445 movements.

Over the 12 months to September 2014 there were 342,089 interstate movements, the fewest since the 12 months to June 2013. Based on an estimated national population of 23.581 million persons, a record low 1.45% of residents have moved interstate over the past year.


Quarterly and 4 quarter average interstate movements across Australia


The differing levels of interstate arrivals and departures also tell you a lot about the current drivers and detractors of the capital city housing markets.

Over the past 12 months there were 86,812 arrivals and 93,117 departures resulting in a net loss of 6,305 residents. NSW has historically recorded a net loss in interstate migrants, however, the 6,305 loss of residents from the state is actually the lowest on record. As the chart shows, departures have trended lower over recent years while arrivals been fairly consistent.

NSW – net annual interstate migration


Vic recorded 71,407 arrivals and 62,952 departures over the past year resulting in a net gain of 8,455 residents. The 8,455 gain is a near record-high with arrivals sitting at their highest levels since 2004 and departures having been relatively unchanged over recent years.

Vic – net annual interstate migration


Over the past 12 months Qld has gained 5,942 residents from interstate migration, made-up of 86,370 arrivals and 80,428 departures. Arrivals from interstate to Qld have been trending lower for the past 10 years while departures are currently at an elevated level.

Qld – net annual interstate migration


South Australia recorded 22,189 interstate arrivals and 25,122 departures resulting in a net loss of 2,933 residents. Arrivals are at their lowest levels since 1987 currently while departures are at their highest levels since 2009.

SA – net annual interstate migration


After peaking at 11,425 over the year to September 2012, net interstate migration has fallen to just 291 persons. Over the year there were 33,787 arrivals, the lowest since June 2010, and 33,496 departures, which is the highest level since 2009.

WA – net annual interstate migration


Over the past 12 months there were 10,355 arrivals and 11,321 departures from the state resulting in a net outflow of 966 residents. Departures have been trending lower since 1999 while arrivals have trended lower recently following an uptick from 2010 to 2012.

Over the past year, NT recorded a net loss of 3,383 residents to other state with 13,856 arrivals compared to 17,239 departures. Departures are sitting at an inflated level at around highs not seen since 2003 while arrivals are at their lowest levels since 1988.

The ACT has recorded 17,313 arrivals over the past year and they are sitting at their lowest levels since 2004. Meanwhile there were 18,414 departures which is lower than recent levels but very high on an historic basis.


There is a stark contrast between the mining and non-mining states when it comes to demographic factors. Interstate migration has been trending lower in the mining states and higher in the non-mining states. A similar trend can be seen in the rate of overseas migration as well. Fewer migrants translates to less demand for housing. The rate of interstate migration varies greatly on a state-by-state basis however, the rate of net interstate migration is at a record high in Vic and the net loss in NSW is at a record low. This means a higher proportion of residents are staying in these states and this is clearly having an impact on capital city housing markets in these two states. On the flip-side, Qld and WA have typically been the benefactors of the outflow of population from NSW and Vic and are now feeling the effects of lower net interstate migration which can be attributed to fewer employment opportunities as construction of large mining related infrastructure projects wind down.

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