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In this video Tracey Spicer talks to Jill Weeks, co-author of the book Where to retire in Australia about popular retirement towns across the country, and what to consider if you thinking about a seachange or treechange.
Where do you plan on retiring? Sea change, tree change, or in the heart of the city, walking distance to museums, galleries, all of that kind of stuff? Jill Weeks is co-author of the book Where to Retire in Australia, and co-founder of the website Where to now? She’s an expert in this area and we’re delighted to be talking to her. Hi Jill.
Is there such a thing as a perfect retirement location?
Oh, I wish there was. But it really means different things to different people. For some people, they couldn’t imagine moving out of their suburbs or their town where they’ve been for a long time, and others just can’t wait to go to a particular spot.
And I think that sort of brings it into that, if you’re looking for an ideal retirement location, you really should be making a checklist and checking them off. You might actually find some of the things you really want. Your needs and wants are actually right where you are in that area as well.
But it’s very different because today’s perfect lifestyle location could be very well. tomorrow’s busy high street. So we do have to be a little bit careful.
That’s a great point. You can’t crystal ball gaze, can you? Are there a handful of destinations across Australia that have become quite famously known as popular retirement places?
There’s a whole lot of different places I suppose. To start up in Queensland, you’ve got Cairns and those sort of areas, and coming down to the Sunshine Coast. I think at Bribie Island, because that’s been fantastic and popular with retirees for a number of years since we’ve been doing our research that comes up highly regarded.
Then you sort of go down to the Gold Coast, Tweed Heads, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, and then sort of going to Central Coast and then sort of talking about other places such as Kiama, Gerringong, Narooma, Merimbula, and then going down a bit further. Particularly retirees or treechangers who want to have some land around them as well. So that’s why they’re doing that.
Then you sort of go around the corner to Gippsland Lakes, you’ve got South Gippsland, the Bass coast, sort of hop over to the Mornington Peninsula, the Surf Coast. Of course you’ve got Torquay there with aging baby boomers are great surfers. And so they love that sort of area as well.
And then you sort of look around to South Australia, you’ve got Robe of course, which is very popular with a lot of retirees and then sort of going back to the Fleurieu Peninsula, and my goodness that Goolwa area, that Port Elliot area, Victor Harbor. Oh, that is incredibly, just so popular with retirees. And the Copper Coast, just north of Adelaide, two hours north of Adelaide, the towns of Kadina, Moonta and Wallaroo are also quite popular. The Yorke Peninsula is sort of coming on the radar a little bit for people that really want to get away.
And then, of course, you’re going up to Western Australia. And so looking at the Great Southern, such as Augusta and Albany. They’re gems for a lot of people. You often find a lot of retirees from the great big farms north of Albany that area. And then, of course, you’re going round to the lifestyle location of Margaret River as well. And that’s quite a spot as well. And then if you want to go up a bit further out of Perth to looking at perhaps the Geraldton type area, but Dongara is very, very popular up there as well.
So that’s a bit of a whip around. And of course, you can’t forget places out of Sydney, such as the Southern Highlands, which is very important. Echuca in Victoria as well, the Goldfields and Spa country, Castlemaine, Daylesford, those areas, they’re really coming up. And it’s quite expensive, some of those places to.
When living in a time of pandemic, of course, what have you seen anecdotally, are some people delaying their retirement because they need to work for longer or are people bringing it forward perhaps because they’ve lost work or had their hours reduced?
Anecdotally, I think that a lot of people, even before COVID, were sort of saying, hey, my investments, maybe not as rosy as I had hoped. So they’re sort of stretching it out a bit. What we find though when we go and research an area, we always ask if you move to this area, what else could you do? So the side hustle or the gig economy is quite big now as well. And you’re finding retirees doing some amazing things, not necessarily to make a lot of money, but it’s a little bit of extra money along the side.
So I’m seeing more and more of those sort of people sort of making things or just doing some interesting creative things. If they haven’t had the chance to sort of work at what they want to do.
That is terrific advice. What are your top tips for people when they’re tossing up where they’d like to retire?
Well, I think that you really have to do your research so carefully. At the top of my list I think you have to look at the medical services in the area. How many doctors live and practice in the town how may specialists, allied health? Is there a hospital nearby.
Then you’re sort of looking at access to technology because not everyone around Australia has great reception? I think you have to look at the security. We’re always doing research, the security of the area, talk to neighborhood watch if there is one, the police. Any major problems? Is it just seasonal or problems all the time? Look at the weather go and speak to the Bureau of Meteorology. They give you some great advice there as well.
I think the cost of living is very important because particularly if you’re in an area and it’s a tourist area, it may actually rise as well. The real estate options and is there something there that you could actually move into, maybe downsizing a little bit along the track? And is there any nursing care if you need it along the way? Well, I think shopping is a big thing for many people, finding out the variety of things as well. Recreation and culture. Is there any, is there lots, is there none?
And the other thing with all these tips is if you’ve got a partner, make sure that they actually like the same things as well. We’ve met people who moved around from Melbourne to Port Douglas – too hot. Down to Port Macquarie – he loved it, she said “it’s just not my thing”. So they moved down to Merimbula, and now they want to come back to Melbourne. And so you kind of think, well, it’s a lot of money right around Australia doing those things.
I think that you have to also look at the distance. And generally this is just us saying this. Most people who’ve made a successful move have moved no more than two hours or 200km from where they lived. Of course there’s exceptions if you’re moving towards family as well. But generally two hours or 200km.
I think you have to look at your interests, your pets. Should you, could you take your pet with you? Is there facilities for the pet where you’re going, and just look at all the nearest services as well. Is it a real pain to get your car serviced as well. Sometimes we mischievously say that we found that wherever there’s great vineyards, golf courses and restaurants, there just happens to be a lot of doctors in that area. Maybe you should actually ask your doctor where they retiring to.
That’s very, very wise. I like that. Very pragmatic and practical. Without getting too personal. Jill, where do you plan on retiring?
Oh, I wish I had a dollar every time I was asked that. Well, I think rather than a specific place I think that I would like to be close to transport, where there’s a lot of options to do something or nothing. And if you’ve got something to do, like be a gigster, to have something different to do on the side. And I think that’s really, really important. But then again, I really like the seaside.
Jill Weeks, thanks so much for your advice and your time.