Australians are on the move like few others

1 March 2018
Average number of times people change addresses
Average number of times people change addresses

Australians are among the most mobile people in the world, with four in 10 Australians changing address every five years, and nearly 15 per cent moving every year.

This is on par with the United States and Canada, and behind only New Zealand and South Korea

University of Queensland School of Earth and Environmental Sciences researcher Emeritus Professor Martin Bell has drawn on Australian Census data for an international project comparing internal migration around the world.

“Australia comes far ahead of most European, African and Asian countries, where only five per cent of the population change address every five years,” Professor Bell said.

He said internal migration tended to increase with economic development, and was constrained by forces including housing markets, freedom of movement and political openness.

Dr Aude Bernard said only two per cent of Australians never moved residence in adulthood, compared to 15 per cent in the US.

“About 20 per cent of Australians move eight times or more in early to mid-adulthood (aged 17 to 50 years), compared to only nine per cent of Europeans,” Dr Bernard said.

“Our study showed that individuals who had not moved by age 25 in the United States and age 30 in Australia remained immobile through their adult lives, suggesting that moves in early adulthood have a lifelong imprint on mobility behaviour,” she said.

Professor Bell said the 2016 Australian Census showed that overall mobility levels have declined by about 10 per cent since the 1990s, but have increased slightly since the 2011 census.

“This decline is particularly characteristic of Australia and the United States, but is also observed in China and is not just due to factors such as the Global Financial Crisis – it is a long-term trend."

The research is published in the book Internal Migration in the Developed World.

Main graph source:

Media: Dr Aude Bernard,, +61 7 3365 6704.