Starting the conversation about where to live in retirement

Houses On Olivers Hill Overlooking The Mornington Peninsula at Suns

Image: Greg Brave/

Australia is fortunate to have so many great places to retire, and deciding whether to stay or move is a big decision. From the River Murray towns of Echuca, Yarrawonga, and Loxton, to the coast of Queensland, the wine regions of Western Australia, to the charm of Tasmania, there is much on offer.

Moving in retirement, however, isn’t an easy decision and there’s much to consider. If you have the option, it’s a good idea to start the conversation about where you would like to live well before your retirement.

Are you happy where you are? Are you able to remain in your present home or location? Do you feel compelled to move? There are many issues to explore.

Listing down your needs and wants in a retirement location is important. Perhaps you’ll find that you have most on your checklist in your present location and could look at staying in your current area.

What are your most important needs? If you have a partner, do they have similar needs and wants? Sometimes you may be pleasantly surprised—or not!

Doing the research is important. We’ve seen people make mistakes when they move in their retirement. The weather often plays a big part in where people want to live in retirement, but that doesn’t always work out.

For example, people we met had moved to an area that ‘had a nice climate’, particularly in winter (compared to their former location that often had icicles on the verandah). But they subsequently found that the climate was the same almost all the time and they missed the four distinct seasons, even if it was a tad icy in winter.

Then there were couples that weren’t happy when one felt connected with the community and the other didn’t, which meant another move was on the cards. Having a great holiday in a town isn’t necessarily a good reason for relocating to the area.

If you have your heart set on moving, could you rent a home for a time in your desired location? Perhaps you could think of house sitting or taking your caravan? Experiencing a few seasons in an area is a good idea, as well as visiting the area at an unpopular time, such as in winter or the rainy season.

Many popular tourist areas usually have a large number of holiday homes. This means that when the holiday season is over the area may have a very different feel. We know of people who have moved to beautiful locations only to find there is ‘no one’ there mid-week, and that they’re one of a few permanent people in their street.

It’s not only humans who may find the climate difference challenging. Would your pets adapt to a move? We’ve spoken to vets who say such things as, ‘older pets may find a change of climate difficult and the layout of a new home may be challenging’.

And a longhaired dog from southern Australia may find conditions in Far North Queensland challenging.

Talking with your animal specialist prior to shifting may be a good idea. Around Australia, there are also many different regulations regarding how many animals and the types of animals you are allowed to have in your home. It’s wise to chat with the local council.

Many councils have New Residents Kits and these may be a good starting point in finding out about the local facilities, utilities, statistics and services available. Two examples of very informative New Residents Kits we found are in Mandurah in Western Australia, and Port Macquarie in New South Wales.

So, starting the conversation about where to live before you retire is essential.

However, remember that you may have found your paradise very close to where you are now.

Jill Weeks is the author of 21 Ways to Retire and co-author of Where to Retire in Australia and Retire Bizzi. She is a regular contributor to ABC radio.

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Category: Planning, Where to Live

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