Can Statistics Help Find A Good Place To Retire In Australia?

Recently the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released data to announce Australia’s oldest capital and area, by median age. The ‘winners’ were Hobart in Tasmania; and the Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest area in New South Wales.

In order:

Median age by state capital

Tasmania 39.8

South Australia 38.7

Western Australia 36.1

New South Wales 35.8

Victoria 35.6

Queensland 35.3

Northern Territory 33.6

Median age by area

Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest (NSW) 62.4

Bribie Island (QLD) 59.6

Goolwa-Port Eliot. (SA) 58.3

Point Lonsdale-Queensliff (VIC) 58.3

Forestier-Tasman (TAS) 55.9

York – Beverley (WA) 51.5

Ross 45.2 (TAS)

Large waterfall down a forest cliff
Photo: Hamish Weir

Didn’t Want Retirees

When we were writing one edition of Where To Retire In Australia, we went to a manager at a local government office in a coastal area. We were interested in asking about the facilities and utilities in the area. His response was, ‘I don’t want retirees coming to live here.’ According to him, ‘Retirees cost the area money.’

Fast forward a few years and the talk around many councils is of ‘Age Friendly Strategies’; outdoor exercise equipment; social participation; and, in the case of the City of Cockburn in Western Australia, holding six seniors information sessions annually as well as a healthy lifestyle expo.

The good thing also, is that many councils refer to ‘inclusiveness’ and integrated age-friendly planning.

Red and black steam train at Goolwa statio
Cockle Train, Goolwa
Photo: Graham Scheer

Are They Really Popular?

But back to the ABS statistics. Some of the areas mentioned do not necessarily have a large population. Also, it would be incorrect, like some news or p.r. items claim, to assume that lots of people are moving to these areas to retire, or these are necessarily  ‘popular’ with  retirees. Some areas are ‘growing older’ and  younger people aren’t moving back to an area after their education. Some people have lived in an area for a very long time. And some areas do not have a ‘pull’ for newcomers.

You can see if an area or town is vibrant by, for example, new housing, shops not being vacant and the variety of shops in a town. The Goolwa-Port Eliot area in South Australia, for example, is popular not only because of the scenery and community, but also because of its proximity to Adelaide.

two children and adult riding up a bike path with coastline in background
Encounter Bikeway
Photo: South Australian Tourism Commission

Some older people may be attracted to an area because it seems to have a lot of retirees and they feel like they ‘fit in.’ The recreation, leisure and housing facilities may also be a drawcard.

So, the statistics give an indication of what an area is like. But there’s nothing like going and researching an area well before retirement to see if it appeals. Take a good look at the medical facilities, transport, cost of living, security and see if there are permanent residents around you.

I wonder if the manager at that coastal council has moved in his retirement.

This was first published in RetireNotes

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