This was no minor change, either. At the height of the lockdowns about half of Melbourne’s workforce worked from home – compared to a mere five per cent prior to the pandemic. Even luddite employers quickly adjusted to the reality of lockdowns and put the digital infrastructure in place for work to continue remotely.
After working remotely for a while, Victorians questioned why they were paying a premium to live close to the CBD. Why not move to cheaper outer suburbs or look for a nice lifestyle town such as Macedon, Daylesford or Castlemaine? Holiday homes on the Mornington Peninsula were increasingly used as the primary residence.
The pandemic wasn’t the only force moving the population. Simple demographics were also at play.
It just so happened that the Millennials (born 1982–1999) had reached the family formation stage of their lifecycle just as the pandemic hit. The hip apartment in Richmond or the share house in Brunswick was exchanged for a home with land on the urban fringe, a place in Geelong, or some acreage near Woodend. Millennials working in knowledge jobs also needed a “Zoom Room” to keep the kids and the cats out of their video calls.
The trend of Millennials leaving the inner suburbs will continue throughout the 2020s as the younger members of the cohort start families of their own. The desired three- and four-bedroom homes aren’t available, let alone affordable, in the inner suburbs they currently occupy. Millennials will go wherever such homes can be found.