Rana’s investigations have found that lifestyle and housing affordability are some of the biggest drawcards for those looking to go regional. However, she learned that not all regional areas are in the same boat.
“Some places have been more successful than others in attracting and retaining new migrants,” Rana says. “This is where my research is linked to liveability and place-based factors. I’m trying to find out what the expectations were of migrants in regards to their new regional hometown. This will help us to unpack why new migrants choose a specific place to live and work, and how councils, planners and industry organisations can adjust to those expectations and improve their town’s liveability.”
Specific factors that Rana found to be strongly related to a regional relocation include health and wellbeing of residents, housing affordability, safety, culture, natural environment, and a sense of trust and belonging. Identifying and analysing these factors allows Rana to unpack the notion of liveability and how it affects population growth.
Identifying those factors helps Rana answer the ‘why’ part of her research question about migrants coming to Cairns. The ‘who’ part has proven slightly more difficult to define.
“So far, I have met a number of new migrants from all walks of life,” Rana says. “They each have very different backgrounds. One thing that has stood out to me is it seems that all these people have the shared characteristics of being very flexible and adventurous. I still have a lot of interviews to conduct, but it does make sense as it would require a specific type of personality to let go of the life you built somewhere and move to a totally new place!”
Rana is excited to continue her research and wants the results to have a positive impact on her new home. “I am hoping that through my research, I can provide the government and local community with a multi-dimensional perspective on regional migration,” she says.
“We need policies that support sustainable development and address socioeconomic inequalities in regional Australia. By researching migration and liveability at the same time, I’m hoping to find a way to help regional communities gain and retain population and workforce while protecting local identity and livelihood.”