Real Estate Investment:Today

Population change in South East Queensland

Key takeaways

Queensland is currently the fastest-growing state in Australia.

The City of Brisbane’s population exceeds 1.2 million people, and that of the Gold Coast a further 643,460.

Interstate migration may have contributed to some of the growth, but it’s not the whole story.

Queensland’s population growth was impacted by the closure of the international border.

Areas of population decline were typically located in established parts of the Brisbane metropolitan area and the Gold Coast.

Queensland is currently the fastest-growing state in Australia.

In 2020-21, the population increased by 0.9%, well above the national average of 0.2%.

The volume of growth was just shy of 46,000 people.

Queensland’s population growth is driven by interstate migration.

Interstate Migration

In recent years, the volume has increased and has accelerated since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses.

This blog looks at population change by SA2 in South East Queensland (SEQ).

It shows that while there are pockets of strong growth, at the same time, some areas recorded a decline in population.

South East Queensland (SEQ)

There are many definitions of SEQ, and this blog uses the one determined by the Queensland Dept of State Development.

This consists of 11 LGAs covering Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, and inland to the Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim region.

The analysis presented here however is at the SA2 level.

This is an appropriate scale for spatial analysis due to the population size of some LGAs.

For example, the City of Brisbane’s population exceeds 1.2 million people, and that of the Gold Coast a further 643,460.

In 2020-21, the population of SEQ increased by 1.0%, or 37,830 people, to reach a population of 3.77 million.

Almost three-quarters of Queensland’s population lives in the region.

There is a 200km stretch of coastline with almost continuous urban development.

Spatial patterns of population change

The map below shows the percentage change in population by SA2.

Areas shaded purple increased in population, while those shaded green declined in population during 2020-21.


In general, the fastest-growing SA2s were located in new residential areas on the outskirts of the Brisbane metropolitan area, the northern part of the Gold Coast, and parts of the Sunshine Coast west of Caloundra.

These SA2s are located in areas with new housing estates that attract young couples and families, internal migration was the primary driver of population growth.

In other words, the growth patterns exhibited in SEQ during 2020-21 are typical of growth patterns in other Australian cities.

Interstate migration may have contributed to some of this growth, but it’s not the whole story as depicted in some media commentary.

Ripley, a new suburb in Ipswich, recorded the strongest growth rate in 2020-21 (19.4%), to reach a population of 11,645. Since 2013, Ripley has increased in population by more than 10% per annum.

There were another six SA2s in SEQ that recorded a growth rate exceeding 10%, including Pallara-Willawong, Pimpama, and Chambers Flat – Logan Reserve.

Despite these pockets of growth, there were parts of SEQ where the population declined.

This was more evident in the established suburbs of Brisbane, Logan, as well as the Gold Coast and much of Noosa.

SA2s that recorded the strongest decline were located in inner Brisbane, notably St Lucia (-5.3%), Brisbane City (-4.2%), Kelvin Grove – Herston (-3.5%), and Woodridge (-3.3%).

St Lucia is notable as the location of the University of Queensland.

It’s been documented that the university sector has been particularly hard hit during the pandemic, with many international students unable to enter the country, while others have left.

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