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Mass exodus out of NSW as Sydneysiders look for better life elsewhere

Written by on May 14, 2024

Aussies are leaving NSW in droves as Sydney’s status as the country’s most expensive city drives its residents into the waiting arms of the other states.

Every day, on average, 77 people are ditching NSW overwhelmingly to set up shop in Queensland and Western Australia.

That’s according to new state population projections from the federal government revealed in Tuesday’s budget.

By the end of this financial year, 28,200 more people will have left NSW than arrived.

A greater number — 28,500 — will relocate to Queensland. A further 7000 will make Western Australia their new home.

A smaller number of 1500 net interstate migrants will land in Victoria this year while a handful of people, fewer than 3000 each, will leave the Northern Territory, the ACT, South Australia and Tasmania.

And the trend isn’t going away any time soon, with projections for the next financial year finding that a further 23,000 people will leave NSW while the same number of people will make Queensland their new home.

Elizabeth is one of those people, who made the move from the big smoke of Sydney to Brisbane two weeks ago.

After she and her husband had a daughter, they wanted a “bigger place” in Sydney but they quickly realised “we just couldn’t afford it”.

Living in Erskineville in Sydney’s inner west, they wanted to find a three-bedroom place, with plans to make one into a spare bedroom for whenever family visited, and also off-street parking and a bathtub.

“Those were check-box things — they weren’t that major,” Elizabeth, 37, told

“We didn’t want to leave our area. We don’t want to give up this lifestyle.”

But despite both full-time earners having a budget of $1.8 million, they couldn’t find anything at all remotely in their price range.

“It just made us really question what we can afford and the lifestyle we want to have,” she said.

“We sat down and said, ‘What are we doing here? What’s keeping us in Sydney?’ We wanted to have another baby. We definitely couldn’t do that in our little house in Erskineville.”

So the couple made the big leap to the Sunshine State and haven’t looked back since.

They are staying with a relative in Bribie Island while they search for a home to buy — and so far have been amazed at how much their dollars can get.

“In Brisbane you can get a four-bedroom with a pool, in some really nice areas in Brisbane,” Elizabeth said. “We couldn’t find that in Sydney.”

She was surprised by the reaction from her friends, with most of them expressing their own desire to make a similar move.

“People are in Sydney and they’re stuck and they’re not happy.”

Three months ago, Bree made a similar decision.

The 24-year-old, newly graduated from university, had a job offer in the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane, and decided to leave Sydney after calling the NSW capital her home for the past five years.

She’s already enjoying her time there more than she was expecting.

“You get more for your money here,” Bree told when discussing her rental prospects.

“You’ll be beachside with ocean views in a modern place, you do get more for your money.”

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In comparison, while she was studying and renting in Sydney, she said that in the last few years, “I was moving to lesser-quality places for the same money”.

The Sydney exodus is a phenomenon that has been sweeping through the city over the past few years against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released in March found that in the past 12 months, 116,946 people left NSW to go interstate and 83,744 arrived.

Read related topics:Sydney