Are we sea changing?

I’ve always been fascinated by language, so I guess I was pretty lucky to grow up in a country like England where vocabulary and accents are so incredibly varied.

An interesting part of living in a country such as East Timor where I am now, is that there is often no consensus on how words should be used or spelt.

The Tetun language is something of a pidgin tongue and therefore usage is inconsistent between districts as you travel around the country.

It must’ve been great to be William Shakespeare – he just made words up as he saw fit, and was responsible for the invention of more than 2,000 words as well as a raft of phrases which we still use today.

In The Tempest, Shakespeare first made reference to the phrase ‘sea change’ to describe human migration away from a city lifestyle towards coastal communities.

Sea change what is it?

It’s something we heard a lot about in Australia, and thus today it’s essentially an Aussie term.

[sam id=35 codes=’true’]So the theory went, capital cities are expensive, so we (particularly retirees and alternative lifestylers) are upping sticks and moving to the coastal towns in droves. But, it is actually happening?

The answer, it would seem, is yes, to some extent, although the greater population growth is actually in the capital cities.

6 million Aussies now live in coastal areas away from the mainland capital cities and that number looks set to increase further over the coming decade. But the real growth is happening in the capitals, and a few of them in particular.

Cities driving the growth

In this article from Tim Lawless over at Property Observer he notes that Australia’s four largest cities are dominating national population growth, while some regional communities struggle to retain youngsters.

For a long time some commentators have been promoting the “sea change” theory, that the population is moving out of the cities to start a new life in the sticks.While there are some sea-changers, the absolute population growth is actually largely in capital cities, partly fuelled by Australia’s high levels of immigration.

The data shows that the population is actually growing in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and parts of Queensland (including in Brisbane and the Gold Coast).Commentators are often guilty of reporting data which supports their own conclusions – but the data rather speaks for itself in this instance:

“From a wider perspective, comparing the capital cities and regional areas across the country, the four largest capital cities (Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane) are recording the vast majority of Australia’s population.  

In fact, 69% of the national population growth over the year to June 2012 was centred within these four cities.”

This ties in with what the ABS reported in March – that being that of the headcount growth Australia experienced through the year to September 2012 of 382,500 people, more than 353,000 of that number was in four states.

Cities driving the growth
Source: ABS

APM reported that “stunning” Sydney’s inner west recorded a “remarkable” 86% auction clearance rate on Saturday despite the sector having the highest number of listings.

Meanwhile, SMH reaches for its own superlatives describing the middle market as “flying”.

Regular readers will know that my favourite suburb for investment over the past half decade or so has been Erskineville in the inner west, where bidding action is becoming very strong indeed for quality properties. This property sold recently for a quarter of a million dollars above its reserve price.

It’s great village suburb with a lot going for it and is only around 3 kilometres from the Central Business District, making for a very easy train commute.

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Pete Wargent


Pete is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. Using a long term approach to building businesses, investing in equities, & owning a portfolio he achieved financial independence at the age of 33. Visit his blog

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