Baw Baw Shire set for population boom?

For almost 20 years, Victoria has seen a slow and steady stream of city dwellers severing ties with suburbia to fall in love with a country lifestyle. Year on year, the number of regional migrants has crept up as transport links, technology, infrastructure and employment prospects improved in rural Victoria and dissatisfaction with city life has grown. The onset of Covid-19 however, has seen the number of Metropolitan deserters soar to record numbers. 

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the number of people exiting Melbourne in search of a relaxed, country lifestyle doubled in the June 2020 quarter, following the global pandemic.

But which regional areas are likely to net significant population gains? It is most likely that large regional centres skirting the major cities, such as Baw Baw Shire, will net the biggest population increases. The latest available estimates, released in pre-covid 2019, approximated an annual growth rate of 2.66% in the Baw Baw Shire, sitting above the 1.37% average rate of increase across regional Victoria. Baw Baw Shire’s major regional centres of Drouin and Warragul, had even greater growth rates with increases of 3.8% and 3.1% respectively.

The 2018-2019 estimates show significant growth in the south eastern corridor extending out from the Melbourne Metropolitan area, running through to Drouin and Warragul. With the Melbourne metropolitan boundary ending a short 25 minute drive away, it makes sense that the picturesque and well established townships of Baw Baw Shire will continue to attract an increase of regional migrants looking to escape the city.

LandGipps Sales Manager, Brad Creighton is not surprised by the heightened interest in Warragul and Drouin since Covid-19, “We were already seeing increased demand before the virus, the pandemic just magnified the existing trend. Warragul and Drouin are both very attractive to buyers in terms of value, when we are talking about bigger blocks of land and a smaller price tag. We have had an unprecedented number of people registering interest for land and we expect the upcoming land release to sell out quickly”.

According to Brad, the two key drivers of increased regional growth are livability and affordability. “In terms of livability, both townships provide a comprehensive range of health and community services, quality education, natural spaces, employment opportunities and recreation. But affordability is often the deciding factor. When you’re looking at house and land packages, often the same size house will be upwards of $100,000 more in the South-Eastern suburbs compared to Drouin, and the block sizes are usually more generous in rural areas. Warragul and Drouin both provide an easy access link to Melbourne via the M1, as well as public transport options, allowing new buyers to the area to easily commute or work from home. When you add to that Government incentives to purchase property in regional areas, it is no surprise that Baw Baw Shire growth rates are exploding”.

The next scheduled release of ABS population growth data and estimates is due at the end of March 2021, offering us a clearer picture of the post-Covid regional migration boom. Experts are already speculating that population increases across Regional Victoria will be the highest on record. Stay tuned for more information on the Baw Baw Boom next month!

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