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Melbourne bounces back after COVID exodus

The pandemic exodus of Melburnians ditching the city in droves is over, with new research showing people moving back in high numbers.

With lockdown over and most restrictions having been lifted, Melbourne has overtaken Brisbane as the most popular city to move to, according to online removalist booking platform Muval.

Melbourne accounted for about a quarter (24-27 per cent) of all moving inquiries to Muval between January and June this year.

The news comes after data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed Melbourne’s population decreased by more than 60,000 in the 12 months to September 2021.

During the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, tens of thousands of “COVID movers” swapped Melbourne for Brisbane.

However, Muval chief executive James Morrell says the tide is turning.

Melbourne and Brisbane’s inbound migration seems to be balancing out after the dramatic movement of tens of thousands of people between east coast cities.

“We hope this is a sign that Aussie life is returning to ‘normal’ as our major cities start to resemble their pre-pandemic migration levels,” Mr Morrell said.

However, positive migration is still a little way off, with Melbourne recording 11 per cent negative net migration in May and 23 per cent last month – somewhat attributable to the chilly weather.

Brisbane steadily declined to near pre-pandemic levels of 26 per cent positive net migration last month.

Despite border closures in WA, Perth has seen the highest and most consistent positive net migration of any city in the past two and a half years. In June, it recorded 140 per cent positive net migration.

Sydney has maintained about 50 per cent negative net migration over the past two and a half years.

Last month, Melbourne was ranked the 10th most liveable city in the world in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2022 survey.

The city is now also the most affordable for home rentals, according to CoreLogic’s Quarterly Rental Review.

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