When Brisbane couple Rosie Dodgson and Matthew Scott were looking for an affordable house to buy before starting a family, the Capricorn Coast seemed like the perfect option.
“We would never be able to purchase our first home [in Brisbane] considering the cost of it, and also the competition,” Ms Dodgson said.
The couple is now settled in the central Queensland town of Yeppoon and “couldn’t be happier”.
“It’s a good size for us, it’s not really busy but it’s not a ghost town,” Ms Dodgson said.
They are part of a growing population looking for a sea change in a place where they can also afford to get on the property ladder, according to demographer Elin Charles-Edwards from the University of Queensland.
Dr Charles-Edwards said coastal regions across Queensland were seeing a “spillover effect” of people locked out of markets on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.
“During COVID we saw a lot of people stay in the regions and also increasingly people attracted to the regional lifestyle, either looking for more space, cheaper housing, and in part facilitated by working from home,” she said.
‘Still in the boom’
Ms Dodgson said the Capricorn Coast was “perfect” for their young family, with a property market where they could afford a three-bedroom house with a large garden.
But it seemed others had the same idea. It took more than a year of the pair putting in offers before they snapped up their home in late 2021.
“There was pretty fierce competition up here,” Ms Dodgson said.
Yeppoon real estate agent Lindsay Lodwick, who has been selling houses on the coast for more than 20 years, was confident the town was “still in the boom cycle”.
And while Ms Dodgson and Mr Smith drove for more than eight hours for open homes during their search, Mr Lodwick said he had lost count of the number of properties he had sold sight unseen or with virtual viewings in the past three years.
“From 2001 to 2020, I had sold two houses sight unseen,” Mr Lodwick said.
“People’s willingness to … make an offer without even looking at the property — that kind of behaviour has become the new norm, which really does blow me away.”
The Livingstone Shire, which includes Yeppoon, had one of the biggest growths in property values in the state for the year to April, according to data from property analyst company CoreLogic.
The area’s median house price jumped 7.3 per cent in the 12 months — to $632,830.
In comparison, the Sunshine Coast dropped 12.2 per cent to a median house price of $942,000 while Cairns was down 1.8 per cent to $557,797, and the Gold Coast dropped 9.3 per cent $975,000.
While previous population influxes in central Queensland had been mainly tied to the resources sector, Dr Charles-Edwards said there had been a shift in this recent wave.
She said it was particularly noticeable between Wide Bay and the Capricorn Coast, where migration was being driven more by lifestyle change.
Growth creates challenges
Though population growth is positive, it is putting pressure on the local shire council.
The region experienced 4.3 per cent growth from 2020 to 2022, according to Bureau of Statistics figures, with a population of 40,952 as of June 2022.
For the same period, regional Queensland’s population growth was an average of 2.8 per cent.
Mayor Andy Ireland expected population growth to keep surpassing projections, forcing the council to “rethink a lot of our short, medium, and longer-term plans”.
“We’re looking at bringing forward a number of the water and sewerage projects,” he said.
“We’ve also looked at our future strategic road network … so that we can start mapping now where the demand for future access is going to be.”
In a bid to increase social housing, the council also recently agreed to gift two lots of land to Anglicare, one in Yeppoon and one in Emu Park, so the organisation can build affordable family accommodation.
Article source: www.abc.net.au