I’ve written an extensive guide on the best places in Australia to retire, with Queensland naturally topping the list. Retirement is best done in the sun!
We all want to retire – it’s the Australian dream. For some, an early semi-retirement is very much possible through an online business model as a few people on my blog are working on.
For others, reaching retirement is something we do in our 60’s or 70’s. If we’re lucky, it’s in our 50’s. Not only do you need to know what to do after retiring, but where you actually want to live.
Best Places in Australia to Retire
In writing this guide, I looked at ABS Statistics to see where our retired folks tend to live as well as my travels around the country.
As you’ve probably guessed, Queensland won. With year-round warm weather, beautiful beaches, many sunny days and friendly people, it’s really hard to go past this state.
1. Sunshine Coast, QLD
Who could ignore the Sunshine Coast? House prices are cheaper than Sydney and you actually get a backyard! What’s not to love?
- No peak hour traffic to deal with
- Easy access to medical facilities
- An entire city built around retirement living
- Modern roads and fast-flowing traffic
- Very clean beaches without the tourists
- Lack of crime and trouble makers
Personally, I look forward to moving up to the Sunshine Coast this year. I’ve literally fallen in love with the people, the architecture and the easy-going way of life.
2. Central Coast, NSW
The Central Coast was my #1 getaway place when working 16+ hour days in Sydney not too long ago. For many Sydneysiders, it’s their best solution if they have family that they want to stay close with in Sydney.
Being only 70 minutes away from the CBD, it makes day-trips very easy on the M1.
Suburbs I would recommend are Fountaindale, Avoca, Somersby and Pretty Beach.
3. Gold Coast, QLD
Right – I could be biased here. I do live on the Gold Coast after all. While our city has a reputation as a party-hub, plastic vibes and crime, there are some great places worth checking out.
I would avoid Surfers Paradise entirely and most suburbs within 5km away. I would also avoid going too far inland as you’ll want to be close to the beach.
My pick is heading north to Paradise Point and Runaway Bay or going south to Currumbin and Coolangatta.
4. Hervey Bay, QLD
A lot of property investors like to buy in Hervey Bay for a simple reason: It’s booming as a traveller’s paradise.
And while it has a great tourism sector, it’s also a solid choice for retirees.
5. Coffs Harbour, NSW
Coffs Harbour is the #1 destination for holidaymakers in New South Wales and is also one of the best Australian retirement hotspots.
As I place whether conditions high on my list, Coffs Harbour happens to have the best weather in Australia for retirement. It’s a combination of lower humidity than Queensland, while also having mostly sunny days.
6. Cairns, QLD
Every grey nomad has to put Cairns on their travel map. For some people, they arrive and never leave!
Cairns has beautiful year-round weather where you can enjoy living both inside and outside. Paired with an international airport and first-rate medical facilities, it’s often hard to pass up this North Queensland hotspot.
7. Hunter Valley, NSW
If you want to live inland and away from the ocean, then Hunter Valley is one of my favourite picks. The weather is mild (apart from July) and the air is crisp.
Towns that I love include Muswellbrook, Scone and Denman.
8. Huon Valley, TAS
Tasmanians would kill me if I didn’t include one of their secrets on this list. Huon Valley is very scenic with relaxing vibes and great people all around.
If you can handle the cold weather, then Huonville and Cygnet get my tick of approval.
9. Esperance, WA
Time to head over to the west coast. Esperance is a popular town with both travellers and tourists in Western Australia.
The cost of living is very affordable and there are frequent flights to Perth with both Rex and Qantas.
10. Aldinga Beach, SA
I can personally vouch for this suburb as I used to live here many years ago. Aldinga Beach has a beautiful community vibe and with minimal employment opportunities, has affordable houses for retirement.
With many sandy beaches in the region which you can drive on (Moana and Port Willunga for instance) it’s no wonder why Adelaide’s retirees choose to head 1 hour south. You can often purchase a new home here for under $350k. If you’re coming from Sydney, then you can effectively purchase 3 houses for what you sold for in the big smoke.
11. Yarra Valley, VIC
Yarra Valley can have a bad name for itself, but the area is still beautiful. The prices are more affordable than Melbourne and with good medical facilities and retirement homes.
Towns which are well known are Healsville, Warburton and Yarra Glen. Some people move to the Yarra Valley for a semi-retirement. Essentially relaxing during the week while serving the tourists from Melbourne on weekends.
12. Port Macquarie, NSW
If you drive 4 hours north of Sydney, then you come across the beautiful town of Port Macquarie. While less popular than Coffs Harbour, it still has many great attributes and less touristy.
One caveat: Port Macquarie can be expensive especially for ocean views. There are numerous towns in the surrounding districts that are more affordable. These include Lack Cathie, Sancrox and Wauchope.
13. Ballarat, VIC
If you’re looking for cheap, then Ballarat is hard to go past. Many people who are done with work in Melbourne’s rat race head to Ballarat since the cost of living is remarkably less.
The town sits just 2 hours from Melbourne so day trips to visit family and friends are still possible. However, look for suburbs that are a little bit on the outside of town since Ballarat’s average house price has risen in recent years.
14. Byron Bay, NSW
Go back 20 years ago and Byron Bay was New South Wales best-kept secret! Today though it’s packed full of tourists and those who can afford the million-dollar price tags.
If you do have the funds, then Byron Bay is a prime Australian retirement hotspot for rich and famous. After all, Chris Hemsworth recently built his castle there.
You may also want to look slightly outside of the main hub. Towns like Suffolk Park, Brunswick Heads, Ocean Shores, Bangalow and Mullumbimby make great choices without the weekend crowds from Brisbane.
15. Geraldton, WA
Sitting just over 4 hours from Perth is Geraldton, a beautiful community with affordable housing. You can either drive or fly which makes it ideal for elderly people who want to visit friends and family in the city.
With almost 40,000 people in this town and great weather, it’s hard to look past what’s on offer here. The fishing, boating and recreation scene is strong as are the medical facilities and hospitals.
16. Murwillumbah, NSW
Situated just south of the border, Murwillumbah is a favourite town for Brisbane and Gold Coast day-trippers. It’s situated right on the Tweed River providing ample opportunities for fishing, canoeing and sightseeing in your spare time.
Great attributes include the close proximity to Gold Coast Airport (25 minutes) while also being away from the most touristy areas of Northern NSW. The affordability is what makes this town really stick out for the region, hence why it’s quite alternative by nature.
17. Darwin, NT
Territorians would slaughter me just like the Tasmanians would if I didn’t include their capital city here. Darwin doesn’t have a reputation for retirement living, however, the weather conditions are idyllic. This is a key reason why so many grey-nomads make their winter pilgrimage up north.
Darwin has an international airport, good medical facilities and farmers markets. The prices of real estate can be excessive due to the mining boom, however, heading south to Palmerston can ease this. Food can also be a little pricey due to the freight costs.
18. Mandurah, WA
Imagine living right by a capital city but feeling like a million miles away. That’s Mandurah! This haven is just an hours drive south of Perth.
Essentially, you can have access to all of Perth’s great medical facilities while saving money on housing prices. Mandurah also has a great social atmosphere with events happening every week.
19. Goulburn, NSW
Do you remember the big sheep? That’s in Goulburn. This beautiful agricultural town 2 hours south-west of Sydney is a popular stop-over spot for those making the trip to Melbourne.
Retiring in Goulburn is popular for those in both Sydney and Canberra. After all, you’re only 1 hour from Canberra with easy access on the highway.
20. Woolongong, NSW
Want to stick closer to Sydney AND have access to the beach? My pick would be Woolongong. Being just 70 minutes south of Sydney international airport, you’ll feel like a million miles away in this sanctuary.
A fantastic place for all-age adventures is Royal National Park. You can head there anytime for walking or simply reading a book while being surrounded by beautiful, lush nature.
21. Margaret River, WA
Most of us have heard of Margaret River, but where is it exactly? If you head 3 hours south of Perth (via Mandurah and Bunbury) then you’ll come across the town of Margaret River.
Margaret River is a good place to live for young and old. The region is famous for its wine which is exported around the world. For a semi-retirement dream, people from Perth often buy up wineries in this area for a chance of lifestyle.
22. Canberra, ACT
I’m including the entire city of Canberra. See – Canberra itself is made up of clusters of suburbs which often aren’t joined like typical cities. It’s also very small making it easy to get around with the arterial road system.
While Canberra can be cold in winter, the change of pace compared to Sydney makes it a good place to retire peacefully. Often young people do tend to move away given the lack of employment opportunities, but the medical facilities in this city are first-grade.
23. Blue Mountains, NSW
The Blue Mountains region of NSW is a fan-favourite for Sydneysiders on weekends. Being situated just over an hour from Parramatta makes it easy to commute with both train and bus services provided, in addition to a dual-carriageway.
The housing affordability here is much an improvement over Sydney, lending itself primarily to the lack of employment options. Solid towns worth considering are Leura, Katoomba, Lawson and Blackheath. It does get cold in winter with occasional snowfalls.
24. Mackay, QLD
Let’s head back up to Queensland now with the beautiful small city of Mackay. Mackay is a good place to retire in since it’s in the hub of the Whitsunday Islands. Even if you wanted to work part-time during retirement, it’s hard to be miserable here.
While famous for backpackers, it’s often easy to ignore these younger folk. After all – the sun shines all-year-round, paired with the warm tropical climate and white sandy beaches. You might also want to consider Airlie Beach as well.
25. Hahndorf, SA
The German town of Hahndorf is well-known for being an Adelaide hills town for the older generation. With lush green surroundings, you’ll forget that you’re just 35 minutes from one of Australia’s capital cities.
In fact, the entire Adelaide Hills region is a good choice for retirement for those who live in South Australia. I recommend looking for houses in both Stirling and Lobethal as well.
26. Lismore, NSW
The most well-known town in the Northern Rivers is Lismore, also known as the Rainbow Region due to all the hippies that inhabit this area. Lismore is a good choice for retirement and general living, given the housing prices are really cheap.
However, the region doesn’t have the highest reputation due to drug issues and unemployment. If you can look past this, then your dollar can be stretched a long way.
27. Toowoomba, QLD
Head 2 hours west of Brisbane and you’ll come across the very affordable retirement town of Toowoomba. With the recent opening of the Toowoomba second-range crossing, this is a beautiful spot to relax without the sounds of trucks going into town.
Toowoomba has a relaxed vibe and old country-town values. Pair that with a well-functioning hospital and houses which can be purchased for under $300,000 and you’ll have plenty left over to spend.
28. Victor Harbor, SA
Victor Harbor is a town I visited often in my childhood as I grew up in the south of Adelaide. There isn’t much for kids to do there, but the older generation certainly loves it.
The town has really lent itself for retirement living and is certainly one of the best places in the state to settle down in. Granite Island is a favourite, as well as the surrounding areas like Goolwa and McCracken.
29. Broome, WA
Cairns doesn’t tickle your fancy? Then check out Broome located in the far north of Western Australia and famous as a stopover for travellers.
The house prices are extremely affordable with the median sitting around $250k. Pair that with a domestic airport providing regular daily flights to and from Perth, and you’ve got a solid retirement hotspot.
30. Bribie Island, QLD
Bribie Island is a popular spot that Brisbanites love to find affordable housing. If they can handle the commute, they often save tens of thousands of dollars than compared to the mainland. There is a bridge (toll-free for everyone) that connects the Island from the mainland.
For those who have hanged up the gloves, Bribie Island is a solid choice to retire even if you’re not a local. The marina, shopping centres and medical facilities are adequate plus you’re only a short drive to Brisbane for specialist appointments.
31. West Lakes, SA
Looking for city life? West Lakes is my pick. Adelaide itself is a retirement city given the aging population as many young people move away to more progressive cities.
West Lakes located 20 minutes north-west of the CBD features very nice houses while also being close to the beach. You’re also close enough to the airport for trips overseas while being far enough away where you can’t hear the planes.
32. Daylesford, VIC
Victoria’s answer to Byron Bay is Daylesford. If you can get over the hippies, then this town great spot to base yourself from. There are also many towns in the surrounding areas that are more affordable.
You’ll be surrounded by nature while being 90 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD. This is ideal if you still have adult children living and working in Melbourne and aren’t willing to skip up to retirement in Queensland.
33. Batemans Bay, NSW
Batemans Bay is yet another great holiday spot. It seems that all holiday spots lend themselves well to retirement living and this is no exception.
If the white sandy beaches don’t impress you, then the quiet and relaxed lifestyle will. There are numerous festivals in town and in surrounding areas, and when that’s not on, you can always head down to the local walking tracks.
34. Murray Bridge, SA
For pure affordability, it’s hard to look past Murray Bridge. It was the first bridge across the Murray River and therefore adopted its name.
While it certainly wouldn’t be my first choice as a good place to retire in SA, Murray Bridge’s real estate prices are very low. This makes you’ll have income left over to pay other incidentals.
35. Tweed Coast, NSW
The Tweed Coast comprises of numerous towns including Banora Point, Kingscliff, Bilambil, Cabarita Beach and Bogangar. It’s a popular spot for surfers of all ages.
Housing prices here are on the high side since it’s a good alternative to living in Byron Bay. During the 2011 Census, the median age of people in the Tweed Shire area was 45 years which we can compare to the national median of 37 years.
36. Townsville, QLD
Townsville is one of Queensland’s best places to retire. It’s on the door-step of the Great Barrier Reef and has great infrastructure and established retireee community.
Unfortunately, Townsville does suffer the stigma of being called ‘Brown Town’ compared to its more wealthier taller brother, Cairns. What you’ll gain with Townsville is more affordable housing and less tourists.
37. Torquay, VIC
Torquay is a beautiful town located on the Green Ocean Road and features the clothing-optional Point Impossible Beach.
You can get here easily from Melbourne and it makes for a great day-trip. If you have friends/family still working in the big city, then this makes yet another great option.
38. Mount Tamborine, QLD
Many people have heard of Mount Tamborine. It’s very popular with tourists from the Gold Coast and Brisbane, with so much to see and do in the region.
The pace of life is much slower and so are the speed limits. You’ll feel like a million miles away if you decide to live on the mountain or any surrounding areas like Eagle Heights or Jimboomba while being very close to essential services.
39. Port Fairy, VIC
Port Fairy doesn’t have any fairies, but it does have a magical feel to itself as one of Victoria’s most beautiful coastal towns. The 19th-century architecture is popular with the older generation looking for an easier way of life.
It’s located close to both Warrnambool and Portland making it easy to access essential medical services and grocery items.
40. Port Lincoln, SA
Once merely a sea-wide village, cashed-up buyers from Adelaide have flocked to Port Lincoln to buy up real estate given the cheaper house prices and a better climate.
This town has an aging population which is serviced with all the normal services you’d expect from a large town, while also having multiple daily flights to and from Adelaide.
41. Esperance, WA
Imagine a town in Western Australia where the sun actually rises on its east side and you’ve got Esperance. This is a beaitufl place and a poular stop-over on the route from Adelaide to Perth, if you choose to go the long-way and follow the coast.
For retirees, the relaxed atmosphere is very appealing as are the real estate prices. There are numerous lakes for fishing or merely enjoying strolls away from the busyness of crowds.
42. Albury / Wodonga
These twin towns are very much ideal for those looking for an affordable place in Australia to retire. You’re also located midway between Melbourne and Canberra which means you can head in either direction, but not that you’d want to!
There is plenty to see and do in the local area. With cheap rent, you’ll have plenty of cash left over to enjoy some of the finer things in your retirement years.
43. Albany, WA
Albany is certainly different than Albury. After all, they are thousands of kilometres apart. Head over to WA and you’ll find this beautiful gem located on the southern tip.
Albany is famous for its beaches and the Shoal Bay area for those who have yachts and catamarans. With Gull Rock National Park on your doorstep, you’ll have much to explore without the crowds of Perth.
44. Warnambool, VIC
Another favourite of the Great Ocean Road is Warnambool. The beaches are beautiful and so is the green surroundings.
If you can deal with the coldness of winter, then this town lends itself well to those needing a good place to live over the long term. It’s a safe town while being a 3-hour drive to Melbourne.
45. Alice Springs, NT
The Northern Territory hits the list again! While many would disagree with me that Alice Springs makes a good retirement place, there is evidence that many locals love the area.
There is endless sunshine year-round and it’s a great place to base yourself from if you’re into exploring the deserts. Pair this with a well-functioning hospital with Royal Flying Doctor Support plus a normal airport with dozens of weekly flights to numerous Australian cities, and you’ll find the remoteness might just be worth it.
46. Devonport, TAS
Tasmania makes another appearance on this list too. Devonport located on the northern fringe of the island has a well-established population of retired individuals and couples who found solitude.
Tasmania itself is very affordable for retirement. There are numerous retirement villages in the area and even if you prefer to live independently, the nearby towns of Burnie and Somerset can serve you just fine.
47. Bowen, QLD
Love mangoes? Then you’ll love Bowen. It’s the hub of mango growing in Australia.
Not only that but a cheap enough place to earn yourself an early retirement.
You’ll love Bowen’s year-round warm climate and genuinely friendly local vibes.
48. Exmouth, WA
Exmouth is a resort town, but where holidays love to go so do retirees. If you’ve heard of the Ningaloo Reef, then this is where you’d start for exploring.
There are beautiful beaches, a great town atmosphere and beautiful beaches. Yes – I said that twice. If you love beaches and you want to be a long way from Perth with an even better climate, then Exmouth is a solid choice for Australians.
49. Shepparton, VIC
Shepparton is one of Victoria’s most beautiful regional towns and lays adjacent to the town of Mooroopna. They are located 2 hours from Melbourne and are safe for retirement while also being affordable.
The summers can get hot and the winters quite cold. Given those two extremes, this region wouldn’t be my 1st choice at all but still made this list given its peaceful atmosphere.
50. Sandgate, QLD
Yep – a Brisbane suburb made this list. Sandgate is on the eastern side located next to Manly and just south of Redcliffe. It’s popular with kiteboarders and on summer days, the windy conditions will reduce your reliance on the air conditioner.
What makes Sandgate a great choice to retire in? Easy. The affordability, the architecture and the local community is very friendly. Pair this with a 20-minute drive into Brisbane for hospital visits and you can’t go past this area.
51. Kangaroo Island, SA
To really ‘get away from it all’ in Adelaide, it’s best to get on the ferry and on to Kangaroo Island. There are numerous towns that you could choose to retire in.
Given that the local employment options are severely limited, it has reduced real estate prices quite substantially. You can even purchase a small acreage or hobby farm for less than the price of a house within 5km of Adelaide.
52. Ayr, QLD
Funny story: an old work colleague warned me against Ayr because the density of male to females wasn’t in my favour. Let’s put that aside and look at the facts:
The affordability is excellent, the climate is tropical and it’s only an hour from Townsville. With many beaches, RSL clubs and walking tracks, it’s hard to go past this little coastal town, even if the gentlemen slightly outnumber the ladies.
How to find a place in Australia to retire
So there you have it! An entire list of the best places in Australia to retire.
In my opinion, retirement is something worth planning well. You can’t simply *hope* to retire someday without a solid strategy or blueprint to make it happen.
This is especially true if you want to retire early, as is the case with many Australians right now. We simply can’t be expected to work until age 70.
When looking for an Australian town or city to retire, I recommend:
- Sunshine, sunshine and more sunshine (Who wants cold rainy days?)
- Easy access to first-grade hospitals and medical facilities
- An established public transport system for when you can no longer drive
- Within 1 hour of a domestic airport with frequent flights
- Close to the beach. The vast majority of retirement towns are located on the beach.
- Low crime rates with a solid police presence
I certainly wouldn’t recommend simply finding the cheapest place to retire. Often there is a catch! This could be a lack of medical facilities or heightened crime rates.
In summary: Retire early with a plan
So there you have it – the best places in Australia to retire. Some are expensive while some are super cheap.
What’s best is finding a town, city or region that fits best within your budget. And choosing a town is for many, chosen years in advance paired with the right plan to get you there.
I have been helping thousands of Australians since 2011 to build an online business. This may or may not be for you. You can find out more about me today.
Did your favourite place to retire make the list? Let me know in the comments below where you’d like to retire soon.