There has never been a better time to be a highly skilled worker in search of a corner office, but new data shows tech and finance employees are eager to leave Sydney.
Economist at jobs site Indeed, Callam Pickering, recently conducted an analysis of job seeker behaviour and found around nine per cent of clicks by STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) job seekers in New South Wales were for jobs posted in other states.
"By comparison, only six per cent of clicks for New South Wales STEM job postings were coming from job seekers living in other states," Pickering said.
"With the exception of South Australia, STEM job seekers in NSW are the most likely group to search for work interstate."
This is despite the fact Sydney is awash with jobs.
An analysis of the census data by the consultancy SGS Economics and Planning found that 342,000 jobs were added in the harbour city between 2011 and 2016, leading the report authors to declare that "employment in Sydney is booming".
Mr Pickering's data analysis found the finance sector ranked third among occupations in NSW with the highest number of job postings, while technology ranked fourth.
"It's not that tech workers can't find jobs in Sydney, there is an abundance, it's that they're more than happy to move interstate if the right job is available," he said.
"Many highly skilled workers would rather live someplace else."
The desire to pull up stumps isn't confined to STEM workers either, according to Mr Pickering.
"High and low-skilled workers in NSW explore interstate job opportunities at roughly the same rate," Pickering said.
"It doesn't mean they took the job, but it shows the sentiment to move elsewhere is there."
When they do move, it's largely to regional NSW, Brisbane and Melbourne, according to Pickering.
Australian Bureau of Statistics' interstate migration figures also confirm that more people are moving out of Sydney than moving in.
Some 93,000 Sydneysiders migrated either interstate or to regional NSW in the 2015-16 financial year. Only 70,000 people moved to Sydney, according to the ABS.
"Sydney is actually in the red when it comes to migration," said social researcher Mark McCrindle.
"In many ways, it's a victim of its own success. Cities can become arrogant. People then start to look elsewhere because what they earn isn't based on the city they're living in anymore, it's based on their industry."
A midyear survey by Ipsos Public Affairs polling for the Committee for Sydney found of 1000 Sydney residents surveyed, one in three was considering leaving Sydney in the next five years.
Of those who rent, 52 per cent were considering leaving, while 53 per cent of 18 to 25 year olds were also considering a fresh start elsewhere.
It's a desire that Mr Pickering can relate to. He moved to Sydney in 2008 for a plumb post in the RBA graduate program, before returning to Melbourne in 2012 because of the lower cost of living in his hometown.
"A few graduates have since moved outside of Sydney as well because the pay is no different, but the cost of living is a lot lower in Perth, or Adelaide, or Brisbane," he said.
"These highly skilled workers are the sort that cities like to keep, but if this trend continues Sydney could face a brain drain in the long-term."
Why people are leaving
The Director of Advocacy at the Committee for Sydney, James Hulme, agreed that a looming Sydney brain drain was a concern.
He listed problems with housing affordability, transport infrastructure and Sydney's night scene (compared to Melbourne's) as the main issues.
"We would like to see, in particular, a diversity of different housing options for people, from subsidised government housing for key workers to greater investment in the build-to-rent model," Hulme said.
"It's really important that we attract highly skilled knowledge economy jobs, as Sydney is the Australian leader in emerging fin-tech, but this relies on attracting young creatives who can afford to live here."
Hulme added that he was just as concerned about the loss of frontline workers, too.
"We want people who serve their community in this way to be able to afford to live in their community," he said.
Pickering pointed out that Sydney housing fetched a 60 per cent premium compared with the median price across other state capital cities.
"A buyer in Sydney can expect to pay more than double what it would cost to get a similar property in Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth.
"Sydney is at a decided disadvantage. It could lose its mantle as our nation's economic hub."
McCrindle agreed that housing costs were a problem, as were commuting times.
"Sydney has the longest capital city commute times in Australia and there is the high cost of maintaining a car and toll roads, so people start to question if this is the lifestyle they want," he said.
"If you're living 90 minutes west of the beaches then some people may feel they may as well be in another city."