Gladstone locals return to region for lifestyle and family

GLADSTONITES are coming home, according to a recent study conducted by the Regional Australia Institute.

Despite reports last week telling us a percentage of people in Gladstone couldn't wait to leave, this study showed that while people in their late teens and early 20s were more likely to move to the big smoke, people aged 25-44 were finding their way home.

Between 2010-2011, more than 37,000 people moved from Brisbane to regional Queensland, with the largest group moving to Central Queensland.

Institute general manager of research and policy Jack Archer describes these people as "returners" and suggests that lifestyle and priority changes are common factors when people decide to move or stay.

"I think it's about changing priorities in your life," he said. "When you're young you want to study or to live in a city, but when you get older and want to have kids or get married, then you would want to move back home closer to your family."

Mr Archer believes the biggest issue "returners" face when deciding to move is their career.

"There is a range of drawbacks," he said. "The biggest thing people have to work through is where they're going with their career.

"They either decide to stay in the city and work their way up the corporate ladder or move to a region and start a business. They need to figure out how to achieve their career goal in a regional area."

Ray White director Andrew Allen said people need not worry about regional areas having a negative career impact.

"There are many people who move to a regional locality in order to climb the corporate or institutional ladder faster," he said.

"Taking a job in 'the bush' for a few years is often well received by potential employers.

"Although Gladstone may not have everything that the capital cities can offer, the town is easy to get around, has a more relaxed atmosphere and what most consider to be the best climate anywhere in the world.

"The sporting and recreation facilities here are also among the best of any regional city in Australia."

Mr Allen has seen an increase in locals returning since the rent crisis calmed.

"A fair proportion of our inquiries for rental properties are coming from this category of people," he said.

Janet O’Brien and her kids Tom, 16, and Jane, 14, are happy to be living in Gladstone.
Janet O’Brien and her kids Tom, 16, and Jane, 14, are happy to be living in Gladstone. Luka Kauzlaric

Family an important part of support network

JANET O'Brien says there's no place she'd rather be than Gladstone.

"I went to Brisbane after Grade 12 to study and stayed there for about seven years, and then I was based out of London for three years," she said.

Janet and her husband Colin had been living in Townsville and started their family, but decided to move closer to friends and family in Brisbane or Gladstone.

"We ended up moving here because Colin had gotten a job offer here, and we've really enjoyed it," Janet said.

"Gladstone is a great place to raise kids."

But there are drawbacks to living in a regional area.

"I miss having specialist doctors; the medical support is not here," she said.

"Neither is the culture. If you want to see a big show you have to go to Brisbane.

"(But) five generations of my family have gone to Central State School. People underestimate how important it is to have family around. It really helps to have that support network."

People moving to Central Queensland:

  • 0-14 years: 338
  • 15-24: 38
  • 25-44: 555
  • 45-64: 99
  • 65-84: 14
  • 85+: 1

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