Like many retirees, Jack Malley spends his days surfing the internet, relaxing with a cuppa on his deck, and walking along the beach.
What he hadn’t planned on was retiring to a land lease community. That changed after visiting friends who’d moved to Hometown Australia’s Riverside Community in Evans Head, on the North Coast of New South Wales.
“I took a good look at village life and talked to a few of the other residents,” said Jack. “As soon as I got home, I was scouring websites to find a place that would suit me. Beachfront was one of the first I took an interest in, mainly because it was in such a great location so close to the beach.”
Beachfront is a Hometown Australia community at Hallidays Point on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales.
One home caught Jack’s eye. “It had a huge back deck and was newly renovated.” The other decider for Jack was the affordable price., Jack said, “I’ll take it!” – sight unseen.
Retirees flocking to the regions since COVID
Jack moved to Beachfront in March 2021, joining one of the most significant population shifts in Australian history.
In the quarter to March 2021, our capital cities lost a net 11,800 people – the largest number on record. Since the end of its second lockdown in late November 2020, Melbourne has seen a net departure of 32,200 people, closely followed by 31,600 from Sydney.
Where are all these people going? Many have taken the opportunity to move to lifestyle-rich, and frequently more affordable, regional areas.
More than 44,100 residents who left Melbourne in the March 2021 quarter settled in regional Victoria, while over 20,000 moved to Queensland. And this trend is continuing, with recent figures showing net migration to Australia’s regions during the pandemic has more than doubled pre-pandemic levels.
Covid-19 changing the face of downsizing
Moreover, COVID-19 has changed the way Australians are downsizing. Surveys conducted by Downsizing.com.au show 62 per cent of over 50s were motivated by the idea of joining a supportive and helpful community, while 69 per cent wanted to live in a modern, low maintenance home.
Both were considerations for Jack, with the home’s features being the clincher.
“I love my house,” he said. “I’ve got a 20 square metre back deck facing north. I put an insulated roof on it. In the summer, the heat doesn't get too extreme. In the winter, I sit with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning while lorikeets feed in the bottle brush and the honey eaters are flying around. It's just beautiful.
“If you want to find someone to talk to, you can walk down the street and stop and have a chat. Everybody knows everybody. But people respect your privacy.”
Hometown Australia Communities ideal for regional downsizers
Before the pandemic, Jack had already made the regional shift, purchasing a property on the north-west coast of Tasmania in 2018. But the weather proved too much. “It was a nice place, but after three winters there I didn’t think I’d make it through a fourth.”
Over 50s considering a move to a regional area have a plethora of choice with Hometown Australia, which operates 55 land lease communities throughout New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland.
Many of these are in popular and beautiful regional locations, including New South Wales’s Mid-North, North Coast and Port Stephens regions, Queensland’s Sunshine, Gold and Fraser coasts, and South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula. City lovers have not been forgotten, with communities in Sydney and Brisbane.
Residents in these communities purchase their home, often for a much better price than the median in the surrounding area. Hometown Australia provide a secure, long-term lease, with no stamp duty or council rates payable. This means many retirees can boost their savings after selling up and moving into a Hometown Australia Community. There are also no exit fees.
Excellent leisure and lifestyle facilities
Most communities boast a range of resort-style facilities to support an active and socially connected lifestyle, including pools, tennis courts, restaurants, community areas and bars. Jack said Beachfront’s facilities are great,“with the community having two pools, tennis court, BBQ areas, clubhouse and even a community veggie garden."
A keen email correspondent and follower of global news, he also appreciates the high-quality internet. “A lot of the new houses have got fibre to the premises which means they get exceptional connection speeds. I’ve got fibre to the node, which is all you need for streaming a movie or watching SBS on demand.”
But it’s the location he’s sold on. “I walk across the road, through the gate and I'm on the beach,” he said. “It’s like I'm on a permanent holiday.”