The Port Macquarie region has become a hotspot for retirees and downsizers eager to escape from crowded Australian cities and experience a “sea change” in a location that not only has an impressive (and growing) list of lifestyle attractions but is also described – by the CSIRO, no less – as having Australia’s best climate.
There’s something that stands out about the wave of Aussies packing up and heading to this pocket of the NSW mid-north coast. Namely, it includes steadily growing numbers of young retirees or “semi-retirees” – people over 50 and in their 60s who’ve only recently left work or who are still transitioning to retirement.
And, in line with national trends on longer work spans, there’s a segment of the local population in their 50s, 60s and beyond who don’t consider themselves to have retired at all, and are still actively working in full-time or part-time roles.
We take a look at why Port Macquarie is such an attractive option for younger downsizers and why they consider it one of the east coast’s most appealing destinations.
Being within reach of both Sydney and Brisbane is one of the great advantages of Port Macquarie, and it’s a reason why the town has traditionally attracted significant migration from both those cities.
For downsizer locals keen to maintain regular connections with Sydney or Brisbane-based family and friends, it’s a relatively easy trip by car with lots of scenic stops along the way. Sydney is 385 km away and a relaxed trip takes just over four hours. The distance to Brisbane is 550km, with the drive taking around five and a half hours.
A short plane trip is also an option. The local airport is close to town and is undergoing upgrades to make it more functional – perfect for hybrid or remote workers who want to take advantage of the relaxed lifestyle but need to travel to city offices from time to time.
Staying active is encouraged (and easy)
In Port Macquarie, there are many ways for younger retirees to keep fit and focus on their wellbeing. The options are endless, from swimming, surfing and kayaking to cycling, hiking and yoga.
The climate encourages locals to get outdoors, with its mild winters, comfortable summers, and an almost year-round “swimmer-friendly” water temperature.
As a plus, it’s easy to enjoy one of Port Macquarie’s string of beaches without the crowds and parking woes, and all within easy driving distance from the centre of town.
Venture inland and you’ll find rainforests, waterfalls and views, along with opportunities to see Australian wildlife up close at facilities like the Koala Sanctuary.
A destination for café culture and dining
A big part of Port Macquarie’s popularity is the fact that it’s a magnet for an increasing number of talented chefs and food industry entrepreneurs.
The region has everything from beachside bistros to cosy cafés and wineries. There are also regular food festivals celebrating local produce.
Add a flourishing arts scene to the list and it's easy to see why Port Macquarie has become one of the best places in Australia for over 50s that value great food and cultural experiences.
Mixing work with relaxation
Increasingly, Australians are working into their older years and beyond the age of “traditional retirement”. Between 2000 and 2021 the workforce participation rate of Australians 65 or over more than doubled.
Having the option to keep working, or to take on part-time or occasional work in semi-retirement, is highly valued for this group.
Port Macquarie is experiencing a boom in infrastructure and business, from the expansion of the airport to the development of new medical and retail facilities – all of which are driving population and job growth and providing opportunities for downsizers still keen to work.
A diverse mix of young and old
Since the pandemic, Aussies of all ages have left the hustle and bustle of the city behind for regions where property prices are more affordable, they can work from home or flexibly, and live a slower, more laid-back lifestyle.
Port Macquarie ticks all of these boxes. That's why it's become so universally popular, appealing to everyone from young professionals and families to retirees.
The diverse and inclusive community in Port Macquarie means that it's in the perfect position to reap the benefits of intergenerational connections. This is in contrast to some other communities that cater more exclusively to older retirees, or that separate people out by age.
Younger downsizers find their perfect home in Port Macquarie
John and Debra Huntington were one such couple looking to move on from the city and start a new chapter. Now in their 60s, they wanted a great lifestyle at an affordable price and, since they planned to keep working, also needed to be in a location with plenty of job opportunities.
While living in a townhouse in Sydney, they began to look at locations around NSW before making the move to Port Macquarie in 2022.
According to John, buying their modern, light-filled home in the Hometown Australia Communities development at Newport, Port Macquarie, was one of the best decisions they ever made. “It was an affordable investment and while we’re not planning to capitalise on it right now (as we want to stay for the long term) we’ve noticed that values of similar properties have appreciated significantly,” he points out.
Debra found a local role working full-time as a receptionist and administrator and John also works for several hours most weekdays. While being part of a village community, at no time do they feel either physically or socially restricted. “Our home is set on lots of space and we can dip in and out of community activities as our schedule allows,” they said.
The Huntingtons can be found at the beach three days a week, and are excited about having so many natural wonders on their doorstep. “Where else can we come and see whales whenever we feel like it?” Debra says of the upcoming whale-watching season which takes place from May to November each year.
“The climate is wonderful, we just don’t get the extremes like other areas of the country,” John says and, there are other benefits on top of enjoying a moderate temperature. “Our plants have gone berserk here, even the ones we bought from Sydney,” he adds.
The couple loves having a choice of great places to eat and drink among Port Macquarie’s many cafés, restaurants and clubs. “Some of our favourites are Seasalt at the Marina and Little Shack on the town green near the Hastings River and break wall walking path,” they reported. “The village also organises regular girls' lunches both locally and in nearby areas like (the hinterland town) Wauchope,” Debra added.
The couple has family in Sydney and likes the fact that it’s within reasonable driving distance. “If you’re careful to avoid peak travel times, it’s easy-as!” John says. “We generally drive in a couple of two-hour blocks with a rest in between.”
The Glenfern Lifestyle Community
Unlike retirement villages in some states, land lease communities like Hometown Australia Communities don't require you to be retired to join the community.
Plus, the land lease model has lots of advantages – residents own their dwelling, can secure a long-term lease on the land and avoid paying stamp duty and council rates.
These features make the stunning new Glenfern Lifestyle Community near Port Macquarie the perfect choice for younger and active downsizers looking for a sea change on the mid-north coast.
It’s a short drive from both the airport and the town centre and includes a wide range of recreational and social facilities, including a clubhouse, 25m pool, bowls green, pickleball, spa and gym.
A variety of homes will be offered at Glenfern, including two-story designs with lifts, spacious master bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms. Residents who work from home can also choose from designs with study rooms and high-speed NBN internet connections.
Brand new display homes will be available soon.
For more information about the Display homes open day or to RSVP please visit: