The 10 Best Places to Retire Across AUSTRALIA: Reviewed and Ranked in 2024

Choosing the perfect place to retire in Australia is a daunting task, fraught with numerous challenges. The vast and diverse landscape of Australia offers a myriad of options, each with its own unique set of pros and cons. Picking the wrong spot can lead to loneliness, financial strain, and limited access to essential services, ultimately impacting the quality of your retirement years. Through meticulous research, I’ve evaluated numerous suburbs based on ten critical criteria, including healthcare access, cost of living, climate, and community engagement. This comprehensive approach ensures you can trust the insights provided, helping you make an informed decision about where to spend your golden years in comfort and happiness.

10. Bunbury, WA – 74/100

Bunbury Sunset, image by Xzaclee

Bunbury offers a blend of coastal charm and community spirit but falls short in public transport and healthcare access.

Scoring Criteria: 

  • Healthcare: 6/10
  • Cost of Living: 7/10
  • Climate: 8/10
  • Safety: 7/10
  • Leisure Activities: 9/10
  • Community Engagement: 8/10
  • Shopping and Dining: 7/10
  • Public Transport: 5/10
  • Natural Beauty: 9/10
  • Access to Services: 8/10

Bunbury, located on the stunning Western Australian coastline, boasts a rich array of leisure activities and a welcoming community. The climate here is pleasantly Mediterranean, with warm summers and mild winters. The cost of living remains relatively affordable compared to major cities, allowing retirees to stretch their savings further. Community engagement is high, with numerous clubs and volunteer opportunities fostering a sense of belonging.

However, healthcare services are somewhat limited, requiring trips to Perth for specialist treatments. Public transport options are sparse, necessitating the use of personal vehicles for most errands. Despite these drawbacks, the natural beauty and vibrant leisure scene make Bunbury an attractive option for those seeking an active retirement.

In summary, Bunbury is ideal for retirees who value community and outdoor activities but are comfortable with occasional trips to larger cities for specialised services.

Interested in Bunbury?

9. Victor Harbor, SA – 76/100

Victor Harbour and Encounter Bay, image by Leyby

Victor Harbor is known for its scenic beauty and relaxed lifestyle but has issues with access to advanced healthcare and shopping options.

Scoring Criteria: 

  • Healthcare: 5/10
  • Cost of Living: 8/10
  • Climate: 9/10
  • Safety: 8/10
  • Leisure Activities: 9/10
  • Community Engagement: 8/10
  • Shopping and Dining: 6/10
  • Public Transport: 6/10
  • Natural Beauty: 9/10
  • Access to Services: 8/10

Victor Harbor, nestled along South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, offers retirees a serene environment with breathtaking coastal views. The cost of living is reasonable, and the climate is temperate, making it perfect for outdoor activities. The town is renowned for its whale watching and coastal trails, providing ample leisure options.

However, advanced healthcare facilities are limited, with the need for travel to Adelaide for more complex medical care. Shopping and dining options, while charming, are less varied compared to urban centres. Despite these limitations, the safety and community spirit make Victor Harbor a haven for those seeking a tranquil and picturesque retirement.

Victor Harbor is best suited for retirees who prioritise natural beauty and a laid-back lifestyle but can manage with limited local healthcare and shopping amenities.

Interested in Victor Harbor?

8. Ballarat, VIC – 77/100

Lake Wendouree Ballarat, image by Ed Dunens

Ballarat combines rich history with modern conveniences, though it struggles with cold winters and some traffic congestion.

Scoring Criteria: 

  • Healthcare: 8/10
  • Cost of Living: 7/10
  • Climate: 6/10
  • Safety: 8/10
  • Leisure Activities: 9/10
  • Community Engagement: 8/10
  • Shopping and Dining: 8/10
  • Public Transport: 7/10
  • Natural Beauty: 8/10
  • Access to Services: 8/10

Ballarat, a historic city in Victoria, offers a rich cultural heritage along with modern amenities. The city is home to excellent healthcare facilities and a vibrant arts scene. The cost of living is moderate, and community engagement is robust, with numerous social clubs and events.

However, Ballarat experiences colder winters, which might not appeal to everyone. Traffic congestion can be an issue during peak hours, detracting from the otherwise pleasant living conditions. The city’s rich history and access to services make it a well-rounded choice for retirees who enjoy cultural pursuits.

Ballarat is ideal for those who appreciate historical charm and vibrant community activities but can tolerate cooler climates and occasional traffic.

Interested in Ballarat?

7. Port Macquarie, NSW – 79/100

Port Macquarie, image by Christopher Wood

Port Macquarie offers excellent weather and healthcare but is slightly expensive and has limited public transport.

Scoring Criteria: 

  • Healthcare: 9/10
  • Cost of Living: 6/10
  • Climate: 9/10
  • Safety: 8/10
  • Leisure Activities: 9/10
  • Community Engagement: 8/10
  • Shopping and Dining: 8/10
  • Public Transport: 6/10
  • Natural Beauty: 9/10
  • Access to Services: 7/10

Port Macquarie, situated on New South Wales’ mid-north coast, is known for its excellent climate and healthcare facilities. The town offers a plethora of leisure activities, from beaches to national parks, ensuring a vibrant lifestyle for retirees. The community is active and welcoming, providing ample opportunities for social engagement.

Despite these positives, the cost of living is relatively high, and public transport options are limited, making it necessary to rely on personal vehicles. Nevertheless, the town’s safety and natural beauty make it a compelling choice for those who prioritise health and outdoor activities.

Port Macquarie suits retirees who can afford a higher cost of living and prefer a warm climate with access to top-notch healthcare.

Interested in Port Macquarie?

6. Hobart, TAS – 81/100

Franklin Wharf in Hobart, by Michael Fromholtz

Hobart provides a blend of cultural richness and natural beauty but has a higher cost of living and cooler weather.

Scoring Criteria: 

  • Healthcare: 8/10
  • Cost of Living: 6/10
  • Climate: 7/10
  • Safety: 9/10
  • Leisure Activities: 9/10
  • Community Engagement: 9/10
  • Shopping and Dining: 8/10
  • Public Transport: 7/10
  • Natural Beauty: 9/10
  • Access to Services: 9/10

Hobart, Tasmania’s capital, is renowned for its cultural vibrancy and stunning natural surroundings. The city offers excellent healthcare and a strong sense of community, with numerous festivals and social clubs. The safety of the city and its rich leisure options make it a standout choice for retirees.

However, the cost of living is on the higher side, and the climate can be cooler compared to mainland Australia. These factors might deter those seeking a more budget-friendly and warmer retirement destination. Nonetheless, Hobart’s cultural and natural attractions make it a desirable option for those who appreciate an active and engaged lifestyle.

Hobart is perfect for retirees who value cultural activities and natural beauty, and who can handle a higher cost of living and cooler temperatures.

Interested in Hobart?

5. Bendigo, VIC – 83/100

Central Bendigo from the Botanic Gardens

Bendigo offers affordability and a rich cultural scene but faces issues with public transport and healthcare availability.

Scoring Criteria: 

  • Healthcare: 7/10
  • Cost of Living: 9/10
  • Climate: 8/10
  • Safety: 9/10
  • Leisure Activities: 9/10
  • Community Engagement: 9/10
  • Shopping and Dining: 8/10
  • Public Transport: 6/10
  • Natural Beauty: 9/10
  • Access to Services: 9/10

Bendigo, a historic city in Victoria, combines affordability with a rich cultural heritage. The cost of living is relatively low, and the city boasts a vibrant arts and leisure scene. Community engagement is high, with many local events and social opportunities.

However, public transport is less comprehensive, and healthcare services, while good, may require travel for specialised care. The city’s safety and accessibility to essential services make it a practical and appealing choice for many retirees.

Bendigo is well-suited for those who appreciate cultural activities and affordability but are prepared to navigate limited public transport options.

Interested in Bendigo?

4. Sunshine Coast, QLD – 85/100

Sunshine Coast, image by Bernard Spragg

The Sunshine Coast excels in climate and leisure activities but has a higher cost of living and traffic issues.

Scoring Criteria: 

  • Healthcare: 8/10
  • Cost of Living: 7/10
  • Climate: 9/10
  • Safety: 8/10
  • Leisure Activities: 10/10
  • Community Engagement: 8/10
  • Shopping and Dining: 9/10
  • Public Transport: 7/10
  • Natural Beauty: 10/10
  • Access to Services: 9/10

The Sunshine Coast in Queensland offers a perfect blend of stunning beaches, excellent climate, and abundant leisure activities. The region is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with endless options for water sports, hiking, and relaxation. Healthcare facilities are good, and the area is generally safe.

On the downside, the cost of living is higher, and traffic congestion can be a problem during peak times. Despite these challenges, the natural beauty and active lifestyle make the Sunshine Coast a top contender for retirees.

The Sunshine Coast is ideal for those who love the beach and outdoor activities and can manage a higher cost of living and occasional traffic.

Interested in Sunshine Coast?

3. Launceston, TAS – 86/100

Tamar River Launceston, image by Daniel Julie

Launceston combines affordability and natural beauty but has limited public transport and colder winters.

Scoring Criteria: 

  • Healthcare: 9/10
  • Cost of Living: 8/10
  • Climate: 7/10
  • Safety: 9/10
  • Leisure Activities: 9/10
  • Community Engagement: 9/10
  • Shopping and Dining: 8/10
  • Public Transport: 7/10
  • Natural Beauty: 10/10
  • Access to Services: 10/10

Launceston, Tasmania’s second-largest city, offers an affordable cost of living and stunning natural landscapes. The city’s rich heritage and active community engagement make it a vibrant place to live. Healthcare services are comprehensive, and the city is very safe.

However, Launceston has colder winters and less developed public transport infrastructure. Despite these drawbacks, the city’s affordability and access to services make it an attractive retirement destination.

Launceston is best for retirees who value affordability and natural beauty but can handle colder weather and limited public transport.

Interested in Launceston?

2. Newcastle, NSW – 87/100

Newcastle CBD from Nobbies, Image by Daniel Silk

Newcastle excels in healthcare and community engagement but has a higher cost of living and traffic issues.

Scoring Criteria: 

  • Healthcare: 10/10
  • Cost of Living: 7/10
  • Climate: 8/10
  • Safety: 9/10
  • Leisure Activities: 9/10
  • Community Engagement: 9/10
  • Shopping and Dining: 9/10
  • Public Transport: 7/10
  • Natural Beauty: 9/10
  • Access to Services: 10/10

Newcastle, a bustling city in New South Wales, offers top-notch healthcare and a vibrant community. The climate is temperate, and the city is known for its beautiful beaches and parks. Community engagement is high, with numerous clubs and events fostering a strong sense of belonging.

However, the cost of living is relatively high, and traffic congestion can be an issue. Despite these challenges, Newcastle’s excellent healthcare and active lifestyle make it a prime choice for retirees.

Newcastle is ideal for those who value excellent healthcare and community engagement but can manage a higher cost of living and occasional traffic issues.

Interested in Newcastle?

1. Gold Coast, QLD – 88/100

Surfers Paradise Goldcoast, image by Kgbo

The Gold Coast offers a perfect mix of climate, leisure, and healthcare but faces higher costs of living and traffic congestion.

Scoring Criteria: 

  • Healthcare: 9/10
  • Cost of Living: 7/10
  • Climate: 9/10
  • Safety: 8/10
  • Leisure Activities: 10/10
  • Community Engagement: 9/10
  • Shopping and Dining: 9/10
  • Public Transport: 7/10
  • Natural Beauty: 10/10
  • Access to Services: 10/10

The Gold Coast, a renowned city in Queensland, tops the list with its superb climate, abundant leisure activities, and excellent healthcare services. The city’s beaches, parks, and entertainment options are unparalleled, making it a haven for active retirees. Community engagement is strong, with numerous social opportunities.

However, the cost of living is higher, and traffic congestion can be a significant issue during peak times. Despite these drawbacks, the Gold Coast’s overall amenities and lifestyle make it the best place to retire in Australia.

The Gold Coast is perfect for those who love an active lifestyle with plenty of leisure options and can handle a higher cost of living and traffic challenges.

Interested in the Gold Coast?

How I Scored Each Suburb

In this section, you will learn how each suburb was evaluated based on ten critical criteria.

Healthcare

Healthcare refers to the availability and quality of medical facilities and services in the suburb. This metric is crucial because access to reliable healthcare is essential for retirees, who often have increased medical needs.

A suburb scoring 1 on this criterion might have limited healthcare services, requiring significant travel to access even basic medical care. An example is Cobar, NSW, where residents often have to travel long distances for specialised treatments. A suburb scoring 10 would have numerous high-quality medical facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and specialist services readily available. An example is Toowoomba, QLD, which boasts multiple hospitals and specialist clinics within easy reach.

Cost of Living

Cost of living measures how affordable it is to live in a suburb, considering factors such as housing, groceries, and utilities. This is important for retirees who often live on a fixed income.

A suburb scoring 1 would have a very high cost of living, making it difficult for retirees to afford a comfortable lifestyle. An example is Mosman, NSW, known for its high housing prices and expensive amenities. A suburb scoring 10 would be very affordable, with low costs for housing, groceries, and other necessities. An example is Armidale, NSW, which offers affordable housing and living costs compared to major cities.

Climate

Climate assesses the weather patterns of a suburb, including temperature, rainfall, and overall comfort. Retirees often prefer milder climates that allow for outdoor activities year-round.

A suburb scoring 1 might have extreme weather conditions, such as very high temperatures in summer and very cold winters. An example is Broken Hill, NSW, which experiences very hot summers and cold winters. A suburb scoring 10 would have a mild, pleasant climate with minimal extreme weather. An example is Coffs Harbour, NSW, which enjoys a temperate climate with warm summers and mild winters.

Safety

Safety refers to the crime rates and general sense of security in a suburb. It’s crucial for retirees to feel safe and secure in their community.

A suburb scoring 1 would have high crime rates and might feel unsafe for residents. An example is Elizabeth, SA, known for higher-than-average crime rates. A suburb scoring 10 would have very low crime rates and a strong sense of community safety. An example is Yass, NSW, which boasts low crime rates and a tight-knit community atmosphere.

Leisure Activities

Leisure activities encompass the availability of recreational options such as parks, clubs, sports facilities, and cultural events. These are important for maintaining an active and enjoyable retirement.

A suburb scoring 1 might have very few recreational options, leading to limited social and physical activities. An example is Collarenebri, NSW, which has limited leisure facilities and events. A suburb scoring 10 would offer a wide range of leisure activities, from sports to arts and cultural events. An example is Byron Bay, NSW, known for its vibrant arts scene and outdoor activities.

Community Engagement

Community engagement measures how connected and active the local community is, including opportunities for volunteering, clubs, and social gatherings. A strong sense of community is beneficial for retirees’ mental and social well-being.

A suburb scoring 1 would have low community engagement, with few opportunities for social interaction. An example is Morwell, VIC, where community activities and engagement are limited. A suburb scoring 10 would have a high level of community engagement, with numerous clubs, events, and volunteer opportunities. An example is Daylesford, VIC, known for its active community and numerous local events.

Shopping and Dining

Shopping and dining assess the availability and variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes in the suburb. Access to diverse shopping and dining options contributes to a convenient and enjoyable lifestyle.

A suburb scoring 1 might have very limited shopping and dining options, requiring travel to nearby towns for basic needs. An example is Tibooburra, NSW, where amenities are scarce. A suburb scoring 10 would have a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes, catering to different tastes and needs. An example is Noosa, QLD, known for its extensive shopping and dining options.

Public Transport

Public transport evaluates the availability and convenience of public transport options, such as buses, trains, and trams. Reliable public transport is important for retirees who may not wish to drive.

A suburb scoring 1 would have very poor public transport options, making it difficult to get around without a car. An example is Deniliquin, NSW, where public transport services are minimal. A suburb scoring 10 would have excellent public transport options, making it easy to travel within the suburb and to nearby areas. An example is Geelong, VIC, which has comprehensive public transport services.

Natural Beauty

Natural beauty measures the aesthetic appeal of a suburb, including its landscapes, parks, and natural surroundings. Beautiful surroundings can enhance the quality of life for retirees.

A suburb scoring 1 might be industrial or lacking in green spaces and natural beauty. An example is Mount Isa, QLD, which is more industrial and less scenic. A suburb scoring 10 would be surrounded by natural beauty, with parks, beaches, or scenic landscapes. An example is Jervis Bay, NSW, known for its stunning beaches and natural surroundings.

Access to Services

Access to services evaluates the availability of essential services such as banks, post offices, and government offices. Convenient access to these services is important for day-to-day living.

A suburb scoring 1 might have very limited access to essential services, requiring significant travel for basic needs. An example is Lightning Ridge, NSW, where services are sparse. A suburb scoring 10 would have comprehensive access to essential services, making life convenient and easy. An example is Wagga Wagga, NSW, which offers a wide range of essential services within easy reach.

My Research: Combining Data with On-the-Ground Experiences

In crafting this comprehensive guide to the best suburbs for retirement in Australia, I embarked on a journey that blended meticulous data analysis with local insights. My research took me across various parts of the country, visiting the very places retirees might consider for their golden years. From bustling urban centres to serene coastal towns, my aim was to experience firsthand the nuances of each suburb that statistics alone cannot convey.

To ensure the accuracy and relevance of my recommendations, I consulted a wide array of sources. I delved into reports from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), examining demographic data, crime rates, and cost of living indices. State and Local Government publications, provided invaluable insights into community engagement initiatives and public transport infrastructures. For healthcare assessments, I referred to each of the state’s Health Department records and hospital performance reports, ensuring a well-rounded evaluation of medical services available in each suburb.

However, numbers and reports only tell part of the story. My on-the-ground explorations included visits to local cafes, parks, and community centres. In Bendigo, VIC, for instance, I spent an afternoon at Percy and Percy Café, engaging with residents who shared their experiences of the vibrant community life and cultural activities. Similarly, in Hobart, TAS, I enjoyed a meal at the award-winning Templo, where the convivial atmosphere and local flavours highlighted the city’s strong sense of community and culinary excellence.

News articles and local media were also pivotal in shaping my understanding of each suburb’s unique attributes. Publications such as the Newcastle Herald and Sunshine Coast Daily provided timely updates on local developments, community events, and infrastructure projects. I cross-referenced these insights with online domains like Domain, RPData and Realestate.com.au to gauge housing affordability and trends. This combination of local news and real estate data helped paint a detailed picture of each suburb’s livability.

Ultimately, this guide is the result of both thorough data analysis and my own personal experiences. By spending time in these communities and experiencing daily life there, I wanted to capture what truly makes each suburb special for retirees. Whether it’s the coastal charm of Victor Harbor or the historical richness of Ballarat, my recommendations are based on a combination of detailed statistics and genuine, heartfelt interactions with locals.

Conclusion

Choosing the ideal suburb for retirement is a deeply personal decision that hinges on a variety of factors, from healthcare access to community engagement, to the cost of living and the availability of leisure activities. It’s important to consider my own priorities and lifestyle preferences when making this decision, as the perfect suburb for one retiree might not be the best fit for another. Whether I value proximity to nature, vibrant cultural scenes, or robust healthcare services, there’s a suburb in Australia that can meet my needs. Here’s a summary of the top 10 suburbs for retirees across Australia, ranked and scored based on comprehensive criteria:

  1. Gold Coast, QLD – 88/100
  2. Newcastle, NSW – 87/100
  3. Launceston, TAS – 86/100
  4. Sunshine Coast, QLD – 85/100
  5. Bendigo, VIC – 83/100
  6. Hobart, TAS – 81/100
  7. Port Macquarie, NSW – 79/100
  8. Ballarat, VIC – 77/100
  9. Victor Harbor, SA – 76/100
  10. Bunbury, WA – 74/100

Each of these suburbs offers unique advantages that cater to different lifestyles and preferences. The Gold Coast shines with its perfect climate and abundant leisure activities, while Newcastle excels in healthcare and community engagement. Launceston combines affordability with natural beauty, and the Sunshine Coast offers an active lifestyle amidst stunning landscapes.

Whether you’re drawn to the cultural richness of Hobart with its vibrant festivals and artistic community, or the historical charm of Ballarat with its stunning Victorian architecture and rich gold rush history, there’s a perfect place for every retiree in Australia. Each suburb offers its own unique lifestyle, catering to various interests and needs. From the laid-back beachside living of the Sunshine Coast to the affordable and scenic beauty of Launceston, the choices are abundant and diverse. 

If you need help finding a suitable property, consider using a professional residential buyer’s agent. These professionals provide expert guidance and support, leveraging their extensive knowledge of the local real estate market to help me navigate the complexities of purchasing a home. A buyer’s agent can assist in finding properties that meet your specific criteria, negotiate the best prices, and ensure that the process is as smooth and stress-free as possible, ultimately helping you secure the ideal retirement home in the perfect suburb.


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