Planning A Retirement Tree Change*

Some city dwellers choose a tree change for their retirement. For them, living in the city or on the coast has no appeal. They want wide open spaces away from the city, where life trots along at a leisurely pace.

When researching for one of the editions of Where to Retire in Australia we found many city people who had made a successful tree (or sea) change had usually moved no more than two hours or 200 kilometres from where they used to live.

Of course, there are always exceptions, such as people who ‘make a go of it’ anywhere and people who are used to moving location with their work.

Very tall gum trees in forest
Photo: Myrtle Schilling

However, not moving too far away enabled people to return relatively easily to family and friends in times of celebration and crisis; to their preferred doctor and medical facilities; their hairdresser and other service providers.

Some I’ve met have expressed surprise that, in the country, they’ve been ‘expected’ to become involved in their new community. In the city, they could pick and choose what activities and groups to join.

In the country: ‘I’ve found that it’s expected that you’ll join various clubs and activities,’ said one retired tree changer.

Will you fit in? Go and ask the locals about what issues there are in the area. How many clubs (sporting and cultural) are there? Work out what you’re going to do to fill in your time. Try to work out any downsides to the area.

It’s wise to visit an area several times before deciding to live there. That means you’re doing your own research rather than relying on others or information from the internet.

Would it be possible to rent for a time to make sure the town you’re planning to retire in is for you before committing and buying a home?

purple roof house among trees
Photo: Deleece Cook

City dwellers in Australian states have various options. For instance, if you lived in Melbourne, there are many areas to explore in country Victoria.

For some people, life on the Murray River is ‘better than sliced bread’. A move to Echuca, the home of paddle steamers and the Steam Rally—which has been operating for 54 years, is on the list for some.

Situated approximately 200 kilometres north of Melbourne, Echuca offers flat land (ideal for walkers who can’t do or don’t like hills), and an outdoor lifestyle that embraces sport.

Summers can be hot and winter mornings crisp, so it’s wise to check the Bureau of Meteorology website for information about the area. Go and spend some time there in the middle of summer and on those cold mornings.

Other Victorian retiree tree-changers prefer the Castlemaine area, located in the Goldfields region of Victoria.  It’s around 120 kilometres north-west of Melbourne and about 40 kilometres from the regional city of Bendigo.

wooden house among trees on a hill
Photo: Joshua Hibbert

Castlemaine is said to be named after an Irish Viscount and, in the 1850s, was part of the gold rush boom. The town has a vibrant arts scene, restaurants and cafes and it even has a Hot Rod Centre to excite baby boomer motoring enthusiasts.

Wherever you live, if a tree change is of interest to you in retirement, please do the research: spend time in the area, during the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ seasons; go and talk to the locals about the medical facilities, transport, and security.

You may be happy you have ‘branched out’.

*First published in RetireNotes

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