Is Sea and Tree change back in vogue?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released a migration data report which appears to show a resurgence in the popularity for our coastal towns and lifestyle markets.

It’s in these areas where some of the biggest migration increases have been recorded over the past year.


Could we now be seeing a return to the once popular sea and tree change phenomenon that were made popular by retirees over a decade ago?

Sea and tree change appear to be the long forgotten buzzwords for the migration of people to coastal and lifestyle markets. beach

This trend was particularly strong before the financial crisis hit in 2008, however, since the end of this occurrence, we saw interstate migration slow and many lifestyle markets underperform when compared to the capital city housing markets.

The latest Migration Statistics from the ABS are now suggesting that migration to coastal and lifestyle markets is increasing and is being led by families rather that retirees.

For the purposes of today’s analysis, I analysed the top 25 national statistical area regions for internal migration (excluding overseas migration) over the 2008-09 and the 2014-15 financial years.

Of the regions included in the analysis, 14 of the 25 are located in the outer fringe regions of the capital cities where population growth is being driven by new housing.

The greatest levels of internal migration have been in the Melbourne-West region where during 2014-15, 5,038 internal migrants moved to the area.

This region is seeing substantial levels of new housing development.

Much of which is at affordable price points which is clearly attracting people to the region.

Looking at coastal and lifestyle regions, 15 of the regions in the table above could wholly or partly be described as lifestyle regions.

These regions are: Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Geelong, Richmond-Tweed, Mornington Peninsula, Mid North Coast, Central Coast, Hunter Valley excluding Newcastle, Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven, Bunbury, Mandurah, Sydney-Outer West and Blue Mountains, Illawarra, Wide Bay and Latrobe-Gippsland.

Migration levels data in each of these regions shows that the shift is being fuelled by those aged 0-14 years and those between 25 and 64 years.

Meanwhile migration of 15-24 year olds is low and often falling and migration of those over 65 years of age is not as strong as younger children and those of working age.

This would seemingly indicate that migration within these coastal and lifestyle markets is being driven by young families.

In general, coastal and lifestyle markets have dramatically underperformed in terms of value growth relative to capital cities over recent years while recently we’ve started to see values rise in many of these regions. kingston beach

This supports the increased demand for housing (with migration as a source) which in turn, often leads to increases in home values.

Another factor contributing to this migration is likely to be the recent home values increases in capital cities which has resulted in a deterioration of affordability and forced many younger families to look for alternatives to living in the capital cities.

Based on the latest ABS data, it is still too early to say that ‘sea change’ and ‘tree change’ has returned.

However, given the ABS data is almost 12 months old, it’s likely the trend has progressed further over the current financial year as more Australians make the move to lifestyle markets.

Given that is the case you can be sure that there are plenty more people that are contemplating a similar move and may make one over the coming years.

Want more of this type of information?

Cameron Kusher


Cameron Kusher is Corelogic RP Data’s senior research analyst. Cameron has a thorough understanding of the fundamentals such as demographics, trends & economics. Visit

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