Forecasts that regional Australia would be one of the most promising places for commercial property investors this year are ringing true. Latest data shows migration from major cities remaining high, the number of city dwellers moving to regions pushing the latest Regional Movers Index (RMI) to its third highest level since 2018. The consistently strong figures within the index, produced by the Regional Australia Institute and Commonwealth Bank, further shows internal migration has carried on regardless, instead of waning as suspected after the pandemic.

The Real Estate Institute of Australia was one organisation to single out regional investment as a growth area, placing it number one on its list of top 10 CRE opportunities for 2023 at the start of the year. By the time the RAI commissioned market research on internal migration in May this year, it found that one in five people – or 3.5 million – wanted to leave their city rat race-lifestyle for a fresh start in a regional area.

Benefits galore

Queensland and Victoria are recipients of most newcomers from cities with the Sunshine Coast most favoured by people from both metropolitan and regional populations. Other most popular places for those leaving city areas are Greater Geelong in Victoria, Townsville, the Gold Coast, the Fraser Coast and Bundaberg. South Australia’s Port Lincoln as well as Campaspe, Pyrenees and Moorabool in Victoria also sit among the top five highest growth regional hotspots in the 12 months to March 2023.

The influxes are boosting economies in regions at the top of the index said Paul Fowler, Commonwealth Bank executive general manager for Regional and Agribusiness Banking. “Regional centres are buzzing with business activity and investment,” Mr Fowler said. “They are offering an abundance of opportunities to people who are seeking to leave the strain of cities to take advantage of the benefits of regional living.”

RAI CEO Liz Ritchie added that the areas experiencing significant net migration increases were “certainly be feeling the impact on house prices and rents, local services and infrastructure.”

Sydney and Melbourne are in the lead when it comes to cities from where most people are fleeing. Capital to regional migration has increased 7.9 per cent this year with Sydney accounting for 90% of all net capital outflows. People leaving Melbourne rose from 44% to 51% in the 12 months to March this year. At the same time, Brisbane and Perth attracted many newcomers, with 26% and 24% new residents respectively.

Major goals

Geelong is central to the RAI’s plans to “rebalance the nation”. The Victorian city one hour from Melbourne is an integral part of the RAI framework for its decade-long Regionalisation Ambition 2032 plan and as such will be a major benefactor of contributions to its economic growth.

Other major RAI targets of note include increasing the proportion of residents aged between 15 to 39 within regional areas to 35% of people in that bracket, along with encouraging Australian immigrants into the regions. “We need to let our new Australian residents know about the benefits of regional living – the space, the work-life balance and the welcoming communities,” Ms Ritchie said. 

Best dressed

According to commercial property advisor Helen Tarrant, the best places for regional commercial investment opportunities and possible yields in 2023 are: 



  • Wagga Wagga – 6.5% - 7%
  • Albury – 6% - 6.5%
  • Maitland – 7%
  • Muswellbrook – 8%


  • Inland Sunshine Coast – 6% - 6.5%
  • Bundaberg- 7% - 7.5%
  • Gympie – 7% - 7.5%


  • Warrnambool – 7% - 8%
  • Geelong- 5% plus
  • Wodonga – 7% plus


For information on investing in regional NSW see Regional New South Wales. A world of opportunity. | Invest Regional NSW