So you’ve decided to retire in Australia. Good choice, but do you know where or how?
Australia is undeniably one of the best places to retire – it’s beautiful, it’s ideal and with a few adjustments, it can even be affordable. But making the decision is never an easy one. Especially when there’s a plethora of things to consider. With key must-knows like cost of living, visa types and insurance – we’re here to make the journey easier for you. Also, it doesn’t hurt to know what are some of the best and popular places people retire to in Australia.
- Things to consider before you retire in Australia
- Best places to retire in Australia
Things to consider before you retire in Australia
(a) Cost of Living
Before you decide in Australia, it’s key to know how much you’d actually need to make it happen. According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s Retirement Standard, single individuals will require at least AUD$545,000 in retirement savings (AUD $640,000 for couples) for a comfortable lifestyle.
In terms of annual finances, here’s the specific breakdown (all in AUD):
Comfortable lifestyle: $44,818/per for singles; $63,352/year for couples
These include: near unlimited access to high-quality goods and services, occasional domestic and international travel, fast internet and big data allowance for communication, top level private health insurance, owning a good care and being able to part in a range of leisure activities.
Modest lifestyle: $28,514/year for singles; $44,170/year for couples
These include: access to limited high-quality food and services, few domestic holidays, decent internet connection and data services, basic private health insurance, owning a basic car and limited leisure activities.
Basic lifestyle: $21,222/year for singles; $31,995/year for couples
These include: living via an age pension, access to basic good and services, very basic phone and internet package, trips are limited to short ones within the city/state, no private health insurance and no personal transport.
Public Health Insurance: Medicare
Medicare is the backbone of the Australian healthcare system. Since 1984, Medicare has been providing universal healthcare to Australian residents in three primary areas: public hospitals, medical services and medicine.
Medicare is available to all Australian and New Zealand citizens, Australian permanent residents (PRs) and individuals from countries that have reciprocal agreements with Australia. Of the countries approved, the ones applicable include several countries from Europe (but not the United States). Citizens of the US will have to become Australian PRs to be eligible for Medicare.
Currently, individuals wishing to retire in Australia are not eligible for Medicare benefits unless they have obtained permanent residency. Prospective retirement visa applicants are encourage to obtain a comprehensive health insurance package (comparable to Medicare’s coverage) before applying.
Private Health Insurance
Even with Medicare, many Australian residents can still choose to own private health insurance with two coverage options: hospital coverage (for private medical treatment) and general coverage (for non-medical health services like dental, optometry and physical therapy).
Peruse our guide for a comprehensive breakdown on the many health insurance available in Australia and how to apply for them.
(c) Visa Requirements
In order to retire in Australia, an individual must be above 55 years old (with the exception of their spouse who does not need to be over 55 to qualify). The individual cannot have any dependents, too. Below are summaries of the various pathways to retiring in Australia. Retirement visas are also not applicable for first-time visa applicants (exceptions are made for partners of existing Retirement Visa holders). For more detailed requirements, peruse the types of visas in Australia.
Investor Retirement Visa (subclass 405)
The best (but also most expensive) way to retire in Australia is via the Investor Retirement Visa. This visa is suitable for self-funded retirees (with no dependents) who wish to live in Australia during their retirement. Individuals must also hold comprehensive health insurance during their entire stay.
Valid for 4 years upon approval, this visa allows an individual to work up to 40 hours per fortnight, travel to and from Australia within the validity period, and have their partner accompany them to Australia.
Do note: This temporary visa is only applicable for individuals who are existing Investor Retirement Visa holders or a former holder who has not yet held another substantive visa since their last visit to Australia. As of June 2018, this visa is no longer accepting first-time or new applicants.
Standard Retirement Visa (subclass 410)
The Standard Retirement Visa is designed for retirees and their partners (if applicable) who wish to spend some of their retirement years in Australia.
Valid for 10 years upon approval, this will allow retirees the option to leave and re-enter Australia at any time, work and/or study in Australia. Do note: This visa is not available to new or first-time visa applicants other than partners of existing Retirement visa holders, former Retirement visa holders who have not held another substantive visa since last entering Australia.
Retirement Visa Pathway
For a long-term option, the Retirement Visa Pathway allows existing or former Retirement via holders the chance to obtain Australia permanent residence. This pathway provides options to long-term residents who have contributed to and are well-established within their communities. Eligible applicants will be able to obtain permanent residencies via the Parent Visa (subclass 103) (only available to retirees from 2022) or the Contributory Parent Visa (subclass 143).
Now that we’ve explored the important must-knows, here are some of the best cities to rretire in Australia – complete with tips and attractions that might just cement your decision.
Best places to retire in Australia
1. Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Sunshine Coast, unlike its southern counterpart Gold Coast, boasts a lifestyle that is far from mundane. This destination city – that’s just an hour’s drive north of Brisbane – is brimming with beaches, resorts, subtropical rainforests and beautiful mountains. If you’re looking for an ocean getaway and hinterland trekking all in one, Sunshine Coast might be for you. Typical of South Queensland, Sunshine Coast has a humid subtropical climate – that means hot, humid temperatures with high occurrence of rainfall all year.
The influx of new homeowners due to Sunshine Coast’s growing popularity has led to fiercer competition within the property market. Median property prices in the suburbs can go up to the 2 million in areas like Sunrise Beach and Noosaville. For more affordable housing, Woombye, Mount Coolum and Maleny are great options as property prices average between $637,000 to $750,000. Plus, retirement villages are also an option in Sunshine Coast, and you can find one for just under $500,000.
There are 5 major hospitals in Sunshine Coast: Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Nambour General Hospital, Maleny Soldiers Memorial Hospital, Gympie Hospital and Caloundra Health Service.
Key attractions include: SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast Aquarium, Noosa National Park, The Ginger Factory, Australia Zoo, The Original Eumundi Markets (located in a quaint hinterland town), Mountain Villages of Montville and Maleny, Glass House Mountains National Park, Noose North Shore and Rainbow Beach.
2. Hobart, Tasmania
Located in South Australia, Hobart is the most populous city of the state of Tasmania. Hobart has a mild temperate oceanic climate, having the fewest daily hours of sunshine (averaging 5.9 hours per day) compared to other major Australian cities. It also rarely snows during winter. Hobart is renowned for its natural surroundings, emerging arts scene, vibrant culture and many quaint cafes littered across the city.
The median property value in Hobart is $810,000 for a home and $563 per week for a unit on rent. Properties in retirement villages can also be found between $300,000 to $600,000. If you’re not sure where to start looking for home, Battery Point and Sandy Bay are good options to start with when looking at suburbs to retire in.
There are four major public hospitals in Hobart: Royal Hobart, Launceston General, Burnie’s North West Regional and Mersey Community. In addition, there are also 20 other rural hospitals and multi-purpose service centres, and one palliative care centre.
Key attractions include: The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, Hadley’s Orient Hotel (the oldest continuously operating hotel in Australia) and The Hobart Synagogue, known to be the oldest synagogue in Australia and one of the rare last surviving examples of an Egyptian Revival synagogue.
3. Esperance, West Australia
Esperance is a true remote gem with a myriad range of quiet towns and coastal communities wonderful for retirees. Just a 90-minute flight from Perth, its coastline boasts some of the whitest beaches (with fine quartz sand) and clearest waters in Australia – including a number of salt lakes. The climate in Esperance is warm and temperate, with warm and dry summers, and cool, wet winters.
Property in Esperance average at $350,000 a house and $222,500 a unit – making it one of the most affordable retirement destinations in Australia.
There are 5 main hospitals in Esperance: Esperance Health Campus, Ravensthorpe Health Service, Norseman Hospital, Lake Grace Health Service and Kalgoorlie Health Campus.
Key attractions include: Recherche Archipelago (gently sloping islands scattered opposite Esperance town), Great Ocean Drive, Stonehenge replica, Lucky Bay (where you can catch sunbathing kangaroos), Woody Island and Lake Hillier (to marvel at a bubblegum-pink lake).
4. South Coast, New South Wales
Looking for a coastal village to retire at? South Coast is a hotspot known to be home to one of the whitest sand in the world – particularly at Jervis Bay. The region of South Coast is where you can soak your feet in uncrowded beaches, snorkel and scuba dive with fur seals and marvel at whale migration. South Coast’s climate is mildly warm and temperate. However, rainfall can be erratic at sporadic times of the year, some even resulting in heavy (but irregular) storms.
Property prices in popular villages like Thirroul and Kiama can soar up to $2 million, due to a recent surge in demand. Other villages also report a similar rise in median house prices, with places like Wollongong measuring a median property price of $910,500. Safe to say, it’s a price to pay for unlimited access to some of Australia’s most beautiful coastlines. Alternatively, Island Point Retirement Village may be one to consider for retirement homes in the region. Properties in this retirement village are available for just under $500,000.
The South Coast region has plenty of hospitals and medical facilities available, with Shoalhaven District Hospital, David Berry Hospital and Nowra Private Hospital being some of the main ones.
Key attractions include: Bombo Headland Quarry, Ben Boyd National Park, Mogo Wildlife Park, Jervis Bay Marine Park, Mimosa Rocks National Park, Eden Killer Whale Musuem, The Blue Pool, Two Figs Winery, Cambewarra Estate Winery, Greenfield Beach, Green Cape Lighthouse, Hampden Beach and more.
5. Melbourne, Victoria
Consistently ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities for seven years by The Economist Intelligence Unit, it is no wonder many flock to Melbourne for an ideal retirement life. As the most populous city in the state of Victoria, Melbourne is a diverse hub blending metropolitan and suburban lifestyles. Boasting vibrant neighbourhoods, excellent medical facilities, tip-top public transport and affordable food fares – you probably will put Melbourne high up your list. One downside: Despite having a temperate oceanic climate, the weather can get quite erratic, due to its location on the boundary of hot inland areas against the cool Southern Ocean.
Of course, the world’s most liveable city comes with a hefty price tag. The median house price in Melbourne is $689,099, though ABC News recently reported that this has now soared pass the million mark in April 2021. The inner suburb of Kew boasts excellent amenities for retirees, making it one of the most prestigious places to live. However, the median property price is at a whopping $2.4 million for houses and $900,500 for units. Alternatively, for those who prefer coastal living, Hampton might be a nice recluse from the city. Property is still competitive here, measuring $2.1 million average for a house and $927,500 for a unit. For a more affordable option, the various retirement villages in Melbourne offers properties ranging from as low as $320,000.
There are over 200 public and private hospitals across Melbourne and the Victoria region. St. Vincent’s Hospital, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, The Alfred, Melbourne Private Hospital and The Avenue are some of the biggest and most-frequented.
Key attractions include: National Gallery of Victoria, Queen Victoria Market, Fed Square, Flinders Street Railway Station, Royal Botanic Gardens, National Gallery of Victoria, Skydeck at Eureka Tower, Arts Centre Melbourne, the Melbourne Museum.
6. Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Gourmet food and wine lovers, this one’s for you. Dubbed “Australia’s original wine country” (it’s the first wine regions since the early 1900s!) and home to one of the largest rivers on the New South Wales coast, Hunter Valley is one of the best-kept secrets for places to retire in Australia. It’s also one of the best places to tee off (for golfers of all levels). The climate in Hunter Valley is very similar to a Mediterranean climate, with balmy days and cool nights, though mountainous regions can get really cold during winter. Autumn (March to May) is the best time to be here, just after the harvest (a tip for all your wine aficionados).
The median property price in Hunter Valley is $470,000 for a house and $325,000 a unit. Newcastle, a coastal city in Hunter Valley, is one of the most populous areas in the region (second to Lake Macquarie). However, property prices are high in Newcastle, averaging $1.1 million for a house and $735,000 a unit. Alternatively, retirement villages like Campbell Estate is perfect for those looking to secure a retirement home for just under $400,000.
The region has nearly 20 hospitals, including medical centres and mental health facilities.
Key attractions include: Hunter Valley Gardens, Barrington Tops National Park, Audrey Wilkinson Winery, Newscastle Art Gallery, Fort Scratchley, Stockton Beach, Newcastle’s Bather’s Way, Wollemi National Park (for kayaking), The Vintage Golf Club and Hunter Valley Zoo.
7. Kadina, South Australia
Along with Tasmania, South Australia has one of the largest populations of older Aussies compared to other states. Kadina is a town best known for its copper mining history, however it is now a thriving agricultural land used to grow cereal crops. If peace and quiet is your ideal retirement environment, Kadina is the place for you. Think quiet beaches, top spots for fishing, growing your own produce and plenty of cultural spots brimming with history. In terms of climate, Kadina has a fairly dry, semi-arid climate, with temperatures a few degrees above Adelaide during summer and a cool (but not freezing) winter.
Kadina has one of the most affordable properties in our list. Mean property prices for a house is just $275,000.
There are 3 main hospitals in within the Kadina region: Kadina Medical Associates, Wallaroo Hospital and Health Services and Yorke and Northern Region Community Health Services.
Key attractions include: The Farm Shed Museum, Victoria Square, Kadina Heritage Trail 40, Copper Coast Visitor Information Centre, Tarnasey Farm and Wallaroo Jetty.
8. Perth, Western Australia
Perth is a great place for a remote, laidback, beach-loving lifestyle. Famous for its climate, Perth enjoys the most number of daylight than any other capital city in Australia. It is also known to have the best of both worlds: a metropolis with a thriving arts scene melded into picturesque natural landscapes offering much-needed recluse.
Mean property prices in Perth stand at $840,000 for a house and $435,000 for a unit. According to realestate.com.au, East Perth is touted to be one of Western Australia’s “most lifestyle-friendly suburb”. However, median property prices are pricier, at $913,000 for a house and $570,000 for a unit. Alternatively, Highgate – located just shy of 2-kilometres from Perth’s CBD – is an inner city suburb offering a quaint lifestyle suitable for retirees, too. At Highgate, median property prices are at $700,000 for a house and $357,500 a unit.
There are over 80 hospitals (including medical centres and palliative care centres) spread across the Western Australia region, with Fiona Stanley Hospital, Royal Perth Hospital, Mount Hospital and The Park Private Hospital being the most popular in Perth.
Key attractions include: The ultra-luxurious Crown Towers, InterContinental Perth City Centre (Australia’s only six-star hotel), Kings Park and Botanic Garden (one of the largest urban parks in the world), Fremantle Prison, the famous white-sand Cottesloe Beach, Swan Valley, Art Gallery of WA, Yanchep National Park and more.
9. Port Stephens, New South Wales
If you’re all about the sea and sand, this coastal city’s just for you. Located just under a three-hour drive from north of Sydney, Port Stephens is home to pristine beaches, coastal walks, sand dunes, various nature escapades and tip-top amenities. With an all-year sunny, cool climate and 11 neighbourhoods consisting of coastal villages and rural districts, this might just be the perfect place for retirement.
Most properties are located in Nelson Bay, a.k.a. the heart of Port Stephens. The median property price stands at $746,000 for a house and $499,000 a unit. Expect a thriving marina with yachts and cruisers from all over the globe, and waterfront eateries serving the freshest catch.
There are four main medical treatment facilities in Port Stephens: Tomaree Community Hospital, My Medical Services, Soldier’s PD Medical Center and Port Stephens Specialist Centre. Check this out, there’s also the Port Stephens Koala Hospital that rescue and treat koalas throughout the region.
Key attractions include: Worimi Conservation Lands (sand dunes), Soldier’s Point (for the best sunset views), Tomaree National Park, Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park and various stunning beaches.
10. Southern Highlands, New South Wales
For anyone wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and into a quaint life in the pastoral land, the Southern Highlands (also known as “the Highlands”) is the place for you. Known for its cool temperate climate, the Highlands is geographically located on the Great Dividing Range, at 500 to 900-metres above sea level. Just one and a half hours south of Sydney, this place is brimming with award-winning fare and over 60 wineries – making it a famous wine region.
Property prices can go up to the millions in the main town of Bowral, while the median property price stands at $950,000 – making Southern Highlands one of the most expensive suburb to live in Australia. For more affordable housing, the town of Moss Vale has a median property price of $657,500 for houses and $499,500 for units.
Southern Highlands Private Hospital and Bowral & District Hospital are the two main medical treatment institutions in the Highlands.
Key attractions include: The Fitzroy Falls, Morton National Park, The Illawarra Fly Tree Top, various wineries and Joadja – known to be a historic abandoned ghost town from the late 1800s.