Once chided for being Victoria’s ‘sleepy hollow’, Geelong has arguably become Australia’s strongest downsizing hotspot, as Melburnians flock to the region to avoid COVID-19 gloom and seek a change of scenery.

According to figures released last week, there’s been a 26 per cent rise in the number of Melbourne residents who moved to the Geelong LGA between 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Developers are ramping up activity to cater for demand, with the 4,600 dwellings approved for construction in the Geelong LGA in 2020/21, up by 48 per cent from 2019/20.

Anecdotal evidence suggests many Geelong-bound downsizers are in their 50s and 60s and still working, but planning their transition to retirement. 

This means they are looking for homes with a separate office space so they can work from home, and are attracted to the fact they only need to travel for around an hour to attend meetings in Melbourne’s CBD.

If you’re thinking of moving to Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula, we've taken a look at what’s currently on offer, and what’s on the horizon.

Land lease communities

Land lease community developers are taking full advantage of the Geelong region’s readily available and relatively flat rural and semi-rural land.

FIND OUT MORE: About land lease communities and why they booming in COVID-19 era

Lifestyle Communities is currently developing two projects in the region, at Mount Duneed (located between the Geelong urban area and Torquay) and St Leonards (located at the eastern tip of the Bellarine peninsula). These are in addition to two existing fully developed communities at Geelong and Ocean Grove.

According to its 2020/21 annual report, on 30 June the company had sold 133 out of 191 homes at Mount Duneed and 82 out of 359 at St Leonards. 

Homes are selling from $474,610 at Mount Duneed, including this Flinders design

The project’s clubhouse, which is now complete, includes a gym, indoor heated swimming pool, bowling green, pickleball court and cinema. Residents will also have free access to a communal boat and electric car.

You’ll find homes from $321,000 at St Leonards, where seven display homes are open to view.

In June, Lifestyle expanded the St Leonards site, by purchasing an adjoining land parcel.

“Sales at our St Leonards project have exceeded our expectations and the additional land will allow us to add some more facilities to broaden the offer to the market,” Lifestyle Communities CEO James Kelly said at the time.

Proposed new clubhouse at Lifestyle St Leonards

Meanwhile, major developer Stockland announced in September it had acquired a 12 hectare site in Armstrong Creek, where it is proposing an over-50s land lease community with 250 homes, a clubhouse and recreational facilities.

The suburb of Armstrong Creek is located alongside Mount Duneed and is 10km from Torquay Beach and 13km from Geelong.

Construction of this new community is due to commence in early 2023.

Separately, another major land lease player, Ingenia, is embarking on a 174-home expansion of its existing community at Lara, 18 km north-east of the Geelong CBD.  For instance, check out this two bedroom Peninsula home.

Meanwhile, Hampshire’s existing Pelican Shores land lease community is located on the Corio Bay waterfront at Leopold, just ten minutes from the Geelong CBD and a few minutes from local shops.

Hampshire's Pelican Shores community is located alongside Corio Bay

Facilities include a swimming pool and spa, boating club, outdoor chess set, bowling green, village garden and a community centre which is the hub for many social groups and activities. Homes start from $280,000.

Retirement villages

There’s also plenty of activity in the retirement village sector.

FIND OUT MORE: Eight key differences between buying in land lease communities and retirement villages

Ryman is developing a new seaside retirement village at Ocean Grove, on the Bellarine Peninsula. The first residents moved in in December last year, with the village to be home to around 280 people when complete. 

In July, this village was named after prominent Aboriginal Australian music and stage star Deborah Cheetham and will have a gym, bowling green, hair and beauty salon, chapel, cinema, bar, cafe and indoor swimming pool, among other amenities.

Artist's impression of Ryman's new retirement village at Ocean Grove

Ryman is advertising this north-facing three-bedroom villa for $825,000.

Lendlease meanwhile has homes available in the $300K and $400K range at its Windsor Park retirement village, at St Albans Park on the edge of the Geelong urban area.

Windsor Park offers a choice of one, two and three bedroom villa units, most with garage and private rear gardens.

You’ll also find the existing Abervale Lendlease retirement village, located at nearby Grovedale.

Apartments

Geelong-bound downsizers also have the option to embrace the city’s increasingly vibrant urban and cultural lifestyle by moving into a new apartment in the city’s CBD.

This lifestyle is only expected to be enhanced by the Geelong City Deal, an initiative which has brought together three tiers of government to support a proposed new Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre. This centre will incorporate a 1000-plus seat theatre and a multi-purpose space of at least 3,700 square metres in size.

Apartments are now available in Ryrie Home, the second release of the inner-city Geelong Quarter project, from $460,000. The project will include an exclusive communal rooftop lounge overlooking Corio Bay.

Conclusion 

Geelong is fast emerging from its industrial past and reputation as being the quieter ‘sleepy hollow’ compared to Melbourne’s hustle and bustle.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated existing population movement trends, making the area a popular sea change location for many people in their 50s to 80s. It’s well worth taking the time to travel on the West Gate freeway to inspect what Geelong has to offer downsizers.

FIND OUT MORE: Discover more retirement and downsizing homes in Geelong here