How To Work Out Where Not To Retire

We’re often asked, ‘Where is the best place to retire in Australia?’ Rarely are we asked, ‘Where is the worst place to retire in Australia?’ or how to work out where not to retire. That is, until early one morning when we had a telephone call from a radio station who asked just that.

Such places may be attractive for some who plan to ‘get away from it all’ in their retirement. To others, however, such places have no attraction.

Sleepy koala on a tree limb, How To Work Out Where Not To Retire
Photo: David Clode

It’s worth noting that some towns and areas that have seemed ‘dull and lifeless’ can have a renaissance. Places can reinvent themselves. As comedian Brian Doyle once said, ‘When I was a boy we lived on “Goat Hill”, now that the Yuppies have moved in it’s called “Angora Rise!’

What are indicators that a town is ‘dull’? If, when driving in, you see quite a few shops for lease, that’s a red flag. Why have these businesses closed? Is there a problem attracting people to the area?

What types of shops and businesses are present in the town? It’s worth noting the various traders. For example, a town we visited in rural New South Wales has a magnificent ladies shoe shop, a cookware shop that would rival any in a metropolitan area, and an upmarket-looking jewellery shop.

There was, however, no bookshop—although it did have a small newsagency with a limited selection of newspapers and magazines. The library also had a limited range of material. Perhaps people in the area are keen on outdoor activities such as sport, rather than reading.

Surfer on beach in early morning, How To Work Out Where Not To Retire
Photo: Alex King

Have a look in the local newspaper. What are the issues mentioned in the paper? Is there a variety of cultural and sporting events? Also, what type of advertisements are listed? Are there events and activities that would appeal to you and your partner?

Go and chat to the editor of the newspaper or newsletter. You may be surprised at what they tell you.

The cost of living may also be an issue in towns with limited grocery stores. We’ve been surprised when comparing groceries around Australia. For example, a basic bottle of mineral water seems to take on the status of French Champagne in some areas!

It’s wise to think that areas will change over time, it’s also wise to think that not all areas will change for the better.

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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