SHIFTING head offices to regional centres like Dubbo could make for a "happier" workforce.
It is one of the recommendations to emerge in the wake of a survey showing people who lived in Sydney were not as happy as those who lived in other parts of NSW.
New research from the UMR-McKell Institute Sydney Confidence Monitor indicated sharp divides among happiness levels across not only NSW but between particular areas of Sydney.
McKell Institute executive director Peter Bentley said of those surveyed, 85 per cent of those living in regional NSW said they were happy versus 13 per cent who were unhappy.
"Shift to Sydney and you're looking at 77 per cent reporting happiness against 21 per cent who say they're unhappy," he said.
"Despite Sydney's myriad charms, other areas of NSW are significantly happier. It seems the country mouse has trumped the city mouse in this all-important area."
Mr Bentley said survey respondents were asked a range of questions about their lifestyle. The main things they disliked about Sydney were high rental and mortgage costs, road congestion and pollution.
"People outside Sydney were, not surprisingly, happier with their local communities and community services," he said.
"They had stronger relations with neighbours and their work/life balance was better."
Mr Bentley said even within Sydney itself, there were massive differences in levels of happiness.
"The divide within Sydney is genuinely striking, with 83 percent of those in Sydney's south and 80 percent of those in Sydney's north saying they're happy, versus just 69 percent in Sydney's west," he said.
"People in western Sydney were the least happy, and pollution was one of the things they said was a big issue."
Mr Bentley said policymakers would do well to take note of the survey results.
"Governments are always trying to understand what people want and the challenges and pressures they face," he said.
"We're seeing time and time again that people in the regions are having a better quality of life, so we should look to governments to kickstart the decentralisation process.
"And it's not just government departments who could think about moving - the government could be providing more incentives for private organisations to relocate to regional centres.
"Dubbo is an example of a great place to live that has the workforce and facilities to accommodate that."