Are these 5 of the best retirement locations in Australia?

Map of Australia with pins showing possible retirement locations

How do you choose your retirement location? We talk to 5 women who have chosen to move to a new location or stayed put. What were their criteria?

We have written previously about getting our location wrong and then happily settling in Noosaville. We felt it was time to broaden that conversation. The locations are listed in alphabetic order (no favouritism here)

Bunbury, WA by Johanna Castro

Bunbury, also known as the City of Three Waters is situated on a peninsula surrounded by the waves of the Indian Ocean, and is just a 2 hour drive south of Perth.

It’s a port city that many tourists by-pass in favour of the more popular holiday destinations further south; Dunsborough, Margaret River and Busselton. But as a place to live Bunbury has a lot going for it, without the crowds.

As a place to retire it offers all the essentials – a good hospital, great doctors and dentists, a modern library, an entertainment centre with a great theatre, a cinema and plenty of restaurants and cafes.

The main street is Victoria Street, which boasts a cappuccino strip, ideal for grabbing a coffee and catching up on news with friends. Close to the the beach it means you can go for a quick walk along the sea front to burn off delicious carrot cake calories without needing to jump in the car! Then nearby there’s Marlston Waterfront with it’s own beach and sea-front restaurants.

When it comes to outside activities there are lots of places to walk, bicycle or engage in watersports. We also have many clubs and associations to belong to which means making friends is easy, and for weekends away we can choose to head to many beautiful places further south.

Being close to Perth means it’s easy to hop on a plane for a holiday, and Busselton Margaret River Airport has just opened offering flights to Melbourne.

City lifestyle, world class restaurants and historical buildings such as the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery built in 1897 as a convent, go hand in hand with un-crowded beaches, al-fresco and beach front cafes, and works of modern public art around the CBD.

Bunbury as a place to retire, offers so much.

You can find Jo on her blog Zigazag and also on Facebook.

Canberra, ACT by Christine Aldred

Having lived in Canberra for over 30 years, I’m quite enamoured with my adopted hometown. Oft-maligned by outsiders as a place of roundabouts and politicians, as an insider I can tell you it’s in fact one of the world’s best secrets: a relaxed and brilliant place to see out your senior years.

‘The Bush Capital’ is adorned with a multitude of trees, bushland, bike paths and open spaces. It’s a big City but somehow feels like a big country town. It’s gloriously and logically spaced (which comes from being a planned city) which means it’s very easy to move about without the stress of traffic jams.

Nestled between mountain ranges, Canberra centres around the spectacular Lake Burley Griffin, where cyclists, joggers and families get their daily exercise and water fix. It’s got lots of natural beauty but also punches above its weight in terms of great restaurants and bars, arts and entertainment, surprisingly even history, and has festivals and activities coming out its ears.

This is a place with four distinct seasons and the changing colours and moods are remarkable. It does get pretty chilly in winter (okay, sometimes bloody cold) but even then the skies are mostly blue and sunny. You just need a good jacket and scarf.

And just quietly, Canberra sunsets are the best I’ve seen in the world.

Read more from Christine on her blog BoomingOn and on her Facebook page.

The Gold Coast, Queensland by Sue Loncaric

Sun, Sea and Sand – this is the reason that the Gold Coast region of South East Queensland has been a popular tourist and retirement destination for decades.

An hour south of Brisbane, the Gold Coast is an easy drive for a weekend get-away or a longer stay. Over the last 25 years, my husband and I have spent many happy times escaping to the ‘GC’ as it is known. It was a natural progression that we planned to retire here.

For me, the attraction is the healthy lifestyle living by the beach offers. Each morning, it is easy to get out and go for a walk or run along the Esplanade, go for a swim or just relax and start the day with a coffee, watching the waves roll into shore. Beautiful white sand, long stretches of beach, great surfing beaches and nightlife. The atmosphere is one of being alive and vibrant and I’m never lonely here.

The relaxed lifestyle is perfect to maintain physical, mental and spiritual health which is important as we age.

One is spoilt for choice with the many restaurants and cafes dotted along the Gold Coast providing delicious food combined with stunning ocean views.

Another plus for me, is that I rarely need to use my car. I can walk to shops and restaurants, or catch the light rail if I need to venture to the larger shopping hubs of Pacific Fair or Westfield Helensvale.

The Gold Coast offers all the amenities within a relaxed lifestyle. What more could I want?

Find Sue on her blog Sizzling Towards Sixty and Beyond and on Facebook.

Kingscliff, NSW by Kathy Marris

I suppose you could say that we left one great place to live in retirement to relocate to another. Ten months ago we decided to leave behind the busy Gold Coast to retire to the quieter and less busy Tweed Coast of Northern New South Wales to the seaside village of Kingscliff.

For us it was a no-brainer. We had always loved the Tweed Coast and spent many holidays staying in our caravan in these parts. Being only 15 kilometres from Tweed Heads on the New South Wales/Queensland border, we felt that we were still close enough to keep in touch with family and friends that live on the Gold Coast.

What initially attracted us to Kingscliff was its laid-back ambience and superb facilities including a newly renovated pub, two caravan parks, schools and TAFE college, library, sports grounds and swimming pool, chic shops, bowls and surf clubs, numerous restaurants and cafes, a small cinema, yoga and pilates studios, medical, legal and dental services and a small supermarket.

The beachfront parklands in the village underwent a massive revamp and now comprises of walking and cycling pathways, green spaces, skating half-bowl, picnic facilities and lots of seating affording gorgeous beach views.

At present the local council have prohibited the construction of high rise buildings over three stories and there are no traffic lights or double lane roads. Although it can get rather busy in town over the weekends and during holidays, it still retains its small village atmosphere. I love the relatively unspoilt nature of the town.

I guess you could say that Kingscliff boasts everything that one needs to lead a happy and fulfilling retirement!

Kathy blogs at 50 Shades of Age and also has a Facebook page

Tumbarumba, NSW by Debbie Harris

Some people would say Tumbarumba is in the middle of nowhere and question why anyone would want to go there in their retirement years, but you could pick many worse places to live!

Yes it’s over 110km from Wagga Wagga and more from Albury but it has a hospital, doctors, supermarket, chemist, hardware shop, clothing shops, gift and homewares, a community owned art gallery, library, newsagent, bakery, community bank, butcher, antique shop, real estate agents x 2, post office, service station, 2 pubs, Chinese restaurants, a golf club, bowling club, cafes and even a quirky little cinema.

Really what more do you need?

It has a community spirit second to none, a pump track, swimming pool, sports ovals, a multitude of sports, parks, playgrounds, childcare centre and will have the first Rail Trail in NSW on public land, opening on 3 April 2020.

Recent bushfires have destroyed a lot of the amazing forests, bushlands and vineyards but they will come back in time. We have Australia’s highest mountain Mt Kosciuszko in our neighbourhood and amazing views of snow-capped mountain ranges on our doorstep.

Walking, cycling, mountain bike riding, horse riding – you name it Tumbarumba has it happening!

When we retired from our respective teaching roles, many people assumed we would move away from town. But that was the last thing on our minds. We have a social network of friends; we’re involved in many community events and organisations like Rotary and we love living here!

Read more about Debbie on her blog Deb’s World and on Facebook


You might find this post on age friendly communities useful if you are trying to make a retirement location choice.

Does one of these locations grab your attention? Do you plan to ‘stay put’ in retirement or make a change? What factors influence your decision?

Older and Wiser