RESEARCH confirms what Doug Clifford knew all along: Ballina is retirement paradise.

“I have travelled all over Australia, and I’ve never found anywhere better,” said the 70year-old resident.

“The researchers’ findings are spot on.”

Where to Retire in Australia, gives Ballina full marks on 20 criteria important to retirees.

The authors, Jill and Owen Weeks, travel the country every four years searching out the best places for retirement.

The latest edition evaluates 42 towns across the country.

“Ballina scores well in every category,” Mr Weeks said.

“We don’t pit the areas against each other by picking an overall winner, but it would be hard to fault the town.”

The authors’ check list includes climate, transport, medical facilities, arts, sporting access and security.

A climate that is kind to arthritic joints, combined with a 24-hour police station, two bowling clubs, a great golf course, a library that delivers to the house-bound, and a council committed to bushland-friendly nurseries all contributed to Ballina’s glowing report card.

“We rate having an airport very highly,” Mr Weeks said.

“It is important for travel and also for health emergencies.

“Ballina’s airport is great for retirees, and it’s close to the international airport at Coolangatta.

“All your markets and craft expos are opportunities for people who grow, cook or make things they want to sell.

“There are plenty of restaurants and retail outlets.

“You have good access to Internet and broadband, and adult education classes. “Southern Cross University is close by.”

But Mr Clifford, a former electrical contractor who moved to Ballina 46 years ago, believes Ballina’s best asset is its community.

“I have seen many people retire here over the years,” he said.

“Some go back because they can’t get used to a quiet life, but most settle in easily because it’s so friendly.”

Retirement requires research, Mr Weeks said. Moving can be costly if you make a mistake. When you do buy, make it within strolling distance of shops. Buy close to the centre of town, but not right in the middle.”

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