A warm climate, great beaches and shopping, and affordable property, have helped to make the NSW Mid-North Coast of Port Macquarie the most popular retirement and downsizing destination in Australia.
In February, Downsizing.com.au named Port Macquarie as Australia’s most searched location by downsizers during 2019, as consumer interest soared in the over 50s housing sector.
We spoke to local experts to discover why the town of 45,000 people is so people with older Australians.
The climate is ideal
Cathy Snook, Village Manager at RSL Lifecare says there are a number of drivers that attract downsizers to the area.
Importantly, she explains: “Our climate is second to none, it’s really temperate. Spring and autumn are fantastic, summer isn’t too hot and winter isn’t too cold.”
Cathy believes the comfortable climate explains why Port Macquarie attracts so many empty nesters from southern areas including Tasmania, Victoria and Canberra.
A beachfront lifestyle
Another big attraction, according to Cathy, are the local beaches.
“There is a choice of surf beaches that are situated very close together, and they are all really beautiful,” explains Cathy.
“What’s quite unique about the area is that the heart of Port Macquarie is very close to the water, while the region’s beautiful hinterland and country lifestyle is also right on the town’s doorstep.
“It’s possible to go shopping, have a coffee overlooking the beach, take a stroll along one of the headland walks and all the while the ocean is close at hand.”
An affordable property market
Nigel Howe is National Asset Manager, Regional Operations Manager - NSW/ACT at Stockland Communities, which owns Lincoln Gardens, Bellevue Gardens and Parklands villages in Port Macquarie. He agrees the beauty of Port Macquarie is that “the beaches are never far away.”
But Nigel notes another important benefit: affordability. He says: “We see a lot of buyers use the equity built up in their homes to access quality downsizer accommodation in Port Macquarie.”
Big city amenities
Despite the regional price tag, Port Macquarie offers all the amenities of the big city.
“Port Macquarie has really taken off in the last five to 10 years,” explains Cathy Snook. “We have all the big name retailers, and the sheer number and variety of restaurants and cafes has nurtured a true café lifestyle.
“We have a real culture of eating out here in Port Macquarie, and there’s so much to choose from – from trendy cafes perched on the water’s edge to hatted restaurants offering a variety of cuisines.”
Cathy adds that local restaurants showcase the variety and quality of local produce – including locally grown wines.
However, downsizers in Port Macquarie may not even have to leave their immediate surrounds to enjoy a lively café scene. As Nigel Howe points out, Stocklands’ Bellevue Gardens village includes a café all of its own.
Lifestyle features plus medical care
The mushrooming of lifestyle facilities in the region includes Glasshouse Port Macquarie – a new performing arts centre with a 300-plus seat theatre.
Port Macquarie also holds its own when it comes to the wide variety of medical services.
Nigel explains: “Port Macquarie has an extensive selection of medical services. It boasts two hospitals, including the Port Macquarie Base Hospital that is undergoing a massive upgrade. Screening services are also widely available, and all this is a plus for downsizers.”
More than a retiree haven
The growth and development of Port Macquarie has seen a shift in local demographics.
No longer regarded as a retiree enclave, a growing number of families are moving into the area attracted by high quality schools, the new Charles Sturt University campus – and the improved connectivity of Port Macquarie to other regions.
The Pacific Motorway has undergone a significant upgrade, making journeys to Coffs Harbour, Newcastle and Sydney considerably safer, easier and quicker.
The local airport has had a major upgrade too, and Cathy notes that with flights to Sydney now taking as little as 45 minutes, some residents choose to live in Port Macquarie and commute to Sydney.
Stocklands’ Nigel Howe isn’t at all surprised by the number one search ranking of Port Macquarie on Downsizing. He says empty nesters often arrive in the area on holiday and soon realise it would be the ideal spot for retirement.
Howe sums it up by saying: “Port Macquarie gives you everything you can get in the city – minus the traffic.”