Australia’s population distribution among major cities has shifted significantly over the past 67 years as the economy has adapted to a new era of working and living.
The sea- or tree-change shift shows people have refocused their attention on what's around them.
By 2054, Melbourne is expected to regain the title it lost at federation as Australia’s largest city.
Australia’s population distribution among major cities has shifted significantly over the past 67 years as the economy has adapted to a new era of working and living - fast forward to the future and things will look different again.
Bernard Salt, managing director of The Demographics Group, wrote a column for The Australian pulling together data from the ABS to show how the lifestyle preferences of the Australian people and the drivers of demand for residential, commercial, and industrial property, have developed over the past 67 years, and what to expect going forward into 2054.
This is what he found.
|TOP 20 Cities||5.56m|
Back in colonial Australia, the biggest city in the country was Sydney with almost two million residents, the data reveals.
Second on the list was Melbourne, followed by Brisbane (minus Ipswich which was considered a separate city) in third place.
Adelaide, which was a burgeoning manufacturing hub, came fourth, followed by Perth.
By the mid-1950s Perth’s boom still lay decades into the future and would follow resource discoveries in the Pilbara and on the Northwest Shelf, he said.
Salt goes on to explain that the second tier of Australian cities comprised manufacturing (and entrepot shipping) hubs at Newcastle, Wollongong, and Geelong - which feature in positions 6, 8, and 9 on the list respectively.
Also in the top 20 were cities that boomed during the gold rush: Bendigo, Ballarat, and even Kalgoorlie.
Meanwhile, Broken Hill was founded on an ore discovery (silver) but its contribution to Australian prosperity goes beyond mining, Salt explained, adding that BHP, which was founded in Broken Hill moved to Melbourne some years soon after.
|TOP 20 Cities||20.468m|
In the 67 years between 1954 and 2021, Australia’s population has almost tripled with both Sydney and Melbourne’s populations surging past five million each.
Brisbane (driven by the emergence of the Gold Coast and consequential infrastructure and amenities) and Perth are in third and fourth place, while Adelaide comes in at number 5.
Salt explained that the Australian urban system of 2021 is driven by different geopolitical, demographic, and lifestyle megatrends that weren’t evident in 1954.
For example, the new sea-change and tree-change shift, and work-from-home trend mean that communities within drivable distances of every capital are now thriving.
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Interestingly, the sea- or tree-change shift shows people have refocused their attention on what is around them, with buyers increasingly venturing out of their usual neighbourhoods and suburbs to regional Australia in search of a different lifestyle.
Because home is no longer just the place we rest, it has fast become the place we work, play, and even self-isolate for a period of time.
And the shift has seen a surge in prices for properties in regional markets, particularly in those close to capital cities.
According to Salt’s data analysis and projections, over the 33 years to 2054, Australia’s population is expected to rise to 38 million (which is a net extra 12 million on today’s figure, most of which is expected to come from overseas).
By 2054, Melbourne is expected to regain the title it lost at federation as Australia’s largest city, likely due to better access to affordable housing combined with a return of manufacturing industry in cities like Melbourne, Geelong, Adelaide, and regional centres like Ballarat and Bendigo, Salt predicts.
Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide again make up the remainder of the top 5, but in a new order.
Meanwhile, resource cities are also expected to make a comeback.
Mackay and Albury are given the 19th and 20th spot on the list given they’re both lifestyle treechange work-from-home cities positioned centrally between Melbourne, Sydney, and Canberra.
|TOP 20 Cities||33.233m|
Note: As migration resumes, a slowdown in the shift to regional areas occurs, property prices strengthen across the country and the Reserve Bank continues to reevaluate our housing market amid an era of high inflation, we could well see an overhaul in Australia’s real estate market in the future.
But, you see, the tricky thing about predicting the future is it’s not very accurate.
Tips: While the list of the predicted largest cities in the future is an interesting read, I wouldn’t advise an investor to use the data to make any investment decisions.
Because when it comes to the property market, past performance is no guide for the future.
Don’t fight Gorillas –to buy an investment-grade property that will outperform the market you need to select locations that will have above-average economic growth that will lead to higher wages growth that will attract population growth and eventually higher house prices.