After the boom: why local families are leaving the Coast behind

Aaron and Catherine Brown and their two children, Alexis, 8, and Maddox, 4, are packing up their Elanora home and moving to Hervey Bay. Picture: Richard Gosling
Gold Coast families are cashing in on hefty house price growth and heading north as net migration to the region continues to soar.
While the city has become home to thousands of new residents since Covid, longtime locals who have brought up their children on the Gold Coast are choosing to leave the area for good.
PropTrack’s Regional Australia Report shows 44,000 people migrated to Queensland in the 12 months to March 2021, more than double the decade average.
The Gold Coast was the nation’s most popular destination, attracting 11 per cent of people who moved from capital cities, the Regional Movers Index 2021 shows.
It’s pushing out families who are heading for regional towns offering a coastal lifestyle without the million-dollar property prices, crowds and traffic congestion.
Family homes like this one near the beach at Burrum Heads are being snapped up
Australian Bureau of Statistics data for 2021 shows a five per cent increase in the number of Gold Coast residents who left for other Qld regions, compared with 2019 before Covid-19.
North of Brisbane, the coastal regions of Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay attracted the most new arrivals from the Gold Coast last year.
Property insiders say that trend is growing through 2022, with destinations including Hervey Bay, Yeppoon and Rockhampton increasingly attractive.
Moving to get more bang for their buck. Picture: Richard Gosling
McGrath agent Sarah Tanner has sold nine homes in one street as many residents head north
Aaron and Catherine Brown just sold their Elanora home of 15 years for a street record price of $1.289m.
They are moving to Hervey Bay with their two children, Alexis, 8, and Maddox, 4, to get more bang for their buck.
“It is crazy prices here now. Essentially, our house should be worth around $700,000 to $800,000 and it just sold for $1.3m,” Mr Brown, an IT professional, said.
“We do a lot of camping and adventuring and we know there’s other areas that are very nice also, where houses are practically half the price.”
“If we move, we can set ourselves up long-term, and it’s just so busy here [on the Gold Coast]. We live around beautiful beaches, but we can barely ever use them because even by six in the morning most of the car parks have gone,” he said.
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With the couple able to work remotely, they will upgade to a beachside house along the Fraser Coast strip.
The Browns purchased their four-bedroom, two-bathroom house for $525,000 in 2007.
Theirs was the ninth house on the same street sold by McGrath Palm Beach agent, Sarah Tanner, who said residents were grasping the opportunity for financial freedom.
“I think Covid has been a massive catalyst for change for so many families and individuals and so a lot of people now are looking at what else their lives could and may look like,” Ms Tanner said.
“The rise of the market on the Gold Coast and especially in places like Elanora has been prolific, and what’s come out of that is the potential for families to become mortgage-free has become extremely enticing.
“There’s a lot of migration [out of the Gold Coast] and it is not necessarily being talked about,” she said.
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Hervey Bay agent Cathie Dawson, of Harcourts, relocated from the Gold Coast two years ago and has seen a spike in home purchases by others following the same path.
“Since the Covid epidemic, absolutely a lot of people are leaving NSW and Victoria, but what I’ve also found is a lot of people are now getting priced out of the Gold Coast,” Ms Dawson said.
“I’ve had a lot of buyers reach out and say, ‘I’ve lived on the Gold Coast all my life but I can’t afford to buy in my home town’.
“What happens is, they like being near the beach so they want to live in the next coastal town,” she said.
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Ms Hoffman said an entry-level house in the area was priced from $500,000.
Family homes near the water as well as acreage properties were being snapped up, with a modern four-bedroom house with a pool on a 1,619sq m block at Burrum Heads now under offer for $1.5m.
“Definitely you get more bang for your buck up here and the lifestyle is very attractive,” Ms Dawson said.
“I can go to the beach in Hervey Bay and still be the only person on the sand.”

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