Melbourne looks to be overtaking Sydney in Australia’s population race.

While Sydney was well on track to become the country’s first city to reach five million people, a net loss of -14,900 people indicated that many have their eyes on heading south.

Statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed Melbourne had the largest population growth over 2013/14 of 95,700 people, an increase of 2.2%.

“Melbourne had the highest net internal migration gain of all Greater Capital Cities in 2013/14 (4,000 people), ahead of Brisbane (3,500) and Perth (1,500),” the ABS said.

Most arrivals came from the rest of Victoria and Sydney.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said Sydney often operated as a gateway into Australia.

“A lot of the overseas migrants land first in Sydney, they may take a little while to get their bearings, then they’ll move to other parts of Australia,” he said.

“What we’ve actually seen over the past four or five years is that more and more people are moving from the Sydney region into Melbourne.

“There are people flows which represent things like the cost of housing, transport costs and the difficulty of moving around cities. That can be one thing that tends to negate Sydney.”

An estimated 349,000 people moved interstate in 2013-14, an increase of 2.5% from the previous year.

Huge changes in population flows across the country are likely to have significant implications for business potential and planning purposes.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said the statistics will allow investors to dissect inflows in specific areas.

“If there is a net inflow of people moving into the area . . . you may be able to identify opportunities to invest,” he said.

“Perhaps the vacancy rate's tightening, not enough construction is occurring, so that would signal capital gains and gains in terms of rent.”

The western areas of Melbourne have expanded by more than 216,000 people in the last decade.

Solid developments in new home building have proved to help ease the gap caused by the weakness in the manufacturing sector.

As Sydney and Melbourne battle it out for top spot, Perth has also shown some significant developments.

Areas in the south-west such as Mandurah have seen the fastest growth in the past five years.

Greater Perth saw an increase of 48,400 people over 2013/14, an increase of 2.5%.