Opportunities for electrical contractors in regional Australia

Has regional migration continued to be popular in Australia, or was it a flash in the pandemic pan? And what does it mean for contractors?

In this Article:
Migration within Australia to regional areas is still increasing
City populations are growing through immigration
Opportunities abound for regional contractors

Over recent years, we’ve read and heard lots about ‘tree changers’ and ‘sea changers’ –people swapping their city lives for a life in regional areas of Australia.

There have been a few reasons for this – housing affordability and more flexible working arrangements among them.

Of course, the pandemic fast-tracked the ability for many people to work from home more often, and if we look back three years there was a 66% increase in net migration to regional areas – the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Greater Geelong in Victoria and Wollongong and Newcastle in New South Wales being the five most popular local government areas to benefit.

If you’re an Electrical Gems aficionado, you’ll remember only too well that we did explore this back in our June-July 2022 edition right after that initial pandemic-influenced surge – but was it just a flash in the proverbial pan or a trend that’s lasted?

The ‘new normal’ for regional Australia?

For those contractors based in regional areas, however, an influx of people back in 2020-21 meant more potential work – more people from the cities moving to regional locations, and needing to be set up for remote work.

And, that’s continued to a large extent. Yes, you’ve got the headline-grabbing ‘work tyrants’ who only want people who’ll work from the office five days per week (never exceeding four minutes for a bathroom trip and having to sign over their firstborn for five years ‘work experience’ once they hit 12 years of age may have been included in their contract fine print, too), but the vast majority of employers have moved to a fully remote or at the very least hybrid working arrangement – which has meant that those who made the move, have been able to stay.

As you might expect, that surge of relocation has slowed down a bit since we passed the lockdown era, however, there are still more people moving to regional areas from cities than making the reverse journey.

Of total relocations in 2023, 11.3% were from a capital city to a regional location, and 9% the other way, meaning in total our cities lost 26,900 people who moved within Australia.

However, overall our capital cities grew by 517,200 people. Most of that was from people coming from overseas (454,903), while ‘natural increases’ (a.k.a births) accounted for 89,200.

Interestingly, in terms of people moving within Australia, Sydney was the big loser. It lost 38,425 people to other Australian locations (cities, as well as regional areas) while Melbourne was down 6678. Interestingly, when we looked at this topic two years ago, Melbourne had lost more than 60,000 people. Wonder why…?

What next for contractors in regional Australia?

So, what does this mean for contractors? Firstly, on a simplistic level, more work opportunities. With homes being built (of course, the current state of the construction industry is worth a whole other article!) to accommodate rising population levels, there’s more work that needs to be done.

And to support growing populations, the infrastructure is needed to cope. New facilities are being created, which in turn creates work. Some businesses are even relocating to regional areas – attracted by incentives, cheaper land, more space and a growing potential workforce.

Of course, this isn’t happening without a guiding hand or two. With the populations of our capital cities skyrocketing, it’s in the government’s interests to make regional areas as attractive as possible.

The Regional Investment Framework outlines the government’s approach to investing in people, places, services, industries and local economies – and
if it’s delivered well (big if, but we’ll run with it) it should see regional areas of Australia become an even more attractive proposition – for people already living in the country, at least.

The most popular regional hot spots in Australia

Want to know the most popular places in regional Australia? These five spots were the most popular regional locations to move to in 2023.*

Boddington, WA
Drive 120km southeast of Perth and you’ll find Boddington. Mining and agriculture are two of its key industries, which helped revive the town after it went into decline during the 50s and 60s.

Bellingen, NSW
Located 35km inland from Coffs Harbour on the Mid North Coast and nestled at the foot of Waterfall Way, a spectacular mountain road with – yes – waterfalls, Bellingen offers cool ‘hippy’ vibes, an independent retail scene and a good dose of art and culture.

Bridgetown-Greenbushes, WA
The only heritage-listed town in the South West of WA, Bridgetown-Greenbushes is located three hours south of Perth, in the heart of the Blackwood River Valley. Locally made products thrive here, and it’s also home to (allegedly!) the only jigsaw gallery in the southern hemisphere.

North Burnett, QLD
Comprising six townships and cute villages, North Burnett has a lot to offer. A thriving agricultural scene and stunning natural attractions attract visitors and relocators alike. You’ll find it 480km north of Brisbane, 100km inland from Bundaberg.

Greater Geraldton, WA
Another WA entry into the top five. The coastal city of Greater Geraldton is home to 40,000 (and growing), and has a load going on. Sports, beaches, restaurants, bars and live entertainment… all just over 400km north of Perth.

*Source: Regional Australia Institute’s Regional Movers Index, December 2023.

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