The regions north of Sydney - including the Central Coast, Cessnock, Newcastle and Port Stephens - have always been popular among retirees and downsizers.

In these regions, over 50s can find homes which have a relaxed coastal or country-style environment, while still being located within a few hours’ drive of Sydney.

This popularity has only grown during COVID-19, as downsizers have sought out areas perceived as being safe and with low infection rates. 

This has led to increased interest, from Sydneysiders, in Sydney’s northern hinterland. 

It has also led to the launch of a number of new retirement village and land lease community projects in these regions.

Below is a guide to help Sydneysiders considering migrating north.

Chain Valley Bay

Chain Valley Bay is a small and relatively little-known suburb on the southern foreshore of Lake Macquarie in NSW, in the Central Coast LGA. 

It is surrounded by the Macquarie State Conservation Area on one side and Lake Macquarie on the other side, giving it a quiet, natural and scenic feel. 

The suburb is reasonably accessible from Sydney (about one hour and 40 minutes) while at the same time provides affordable accommodation. 

The suburb consistently ranks very highly in suburb searches undertaken on Downsizing.com.au.

Hometown Australia’s Lakeside land lease community is located at Chain Valley Bay. Homes start at $295,000. The community is set among manicured grounds with stunning lakefront views and easy access to water-based activities.

Port Stephens

The Port Stephens LGA is currently providing a wide variety of new downsizing options.

The Port Stephens area is quite diverse - it includes everything from a stunning harbour, beautiful beaches and quaint semi-rural villages, through to existing heavy industrial areas and even a fighter jet and commercial airport. 

At the southern end of the LGA is the Sweetwater Grove residential land lease community (formerly the Tomago Van Village). 

New home at Sweetwater Village at Tomago

ASX-listed property company Aspen is upgrading the former village, with new facilities including a sheltered BBQ area, upgraded tennis court and pool, dog park and community building.

Homes start at $209,000. The community is situated in a spacious, semi-rural setting and is located just 20 minutes drive from Newcastle.

Meanwhile, in the central part of the Port Stephens LGA, you’ll find the Tallowood residential land lease community.

Tallowood is the result of 18 months of planning by Vivacity, a Sydney-based lifestyle community developer and operator.

Currently under construction, this new community will contain 216 homes and be spread across a generous 20 hectare site at Medowie, a small semi-rural township.

Artist's impression of the lounge area at the Tallowood community at Port Stephens

Instead of prefabricated homes, Tallowood is believed to be the first over 55s land lease community in NSW to have brick veneer homes. 

In the north-east section of the Port Stephens LGA, at Anna Bay, you’ll find Hometown Australia’s new Sunrise land lease community.

Sunrise is a premier resort-style community, located between the ocean and countryside.

Pool at Sunrise community at Port Stephens

It includes two new swimming pools, tennis and pickleball courts and a clubhouse, bowling green, community bus, cinema and library. New homes start at $455,000.

Cessnock

Cessnock has a long coal mining history but is now better known for its picture-postcard rural scenery and its prolific wine production. 

The Cessnock local council area has around 1,800 hectares of land under vine, particularly around the localities of Pokolbin, Mount View and Allandale.

Campbell Estate is a new Cessnock-based residential land lease community which includes more than 160 sites. 

These homes will be complemented by resort-style community facilities including a covered swimming pool and a resident clubhouse including a theatre, gym, community garden, café/bar/kitchen, indoor/outdoor dining, bowling green and BBQ areas.

The community is close to bowling and golf clubs, medical services, transport and the Cessnock city centre. Prices start from $290,000.

Newcastle

Newcastle’s once dormant inner-city area is being transformed into an exciting and bustling urban location, largely thanks to major new transport, education and public space investments.

The NSW Government has invested over $650 million into the Newcastle CBD's renewal, including via the Newcastle Light Rail which opened in 2019.

This renewal is helping the Newcastle CBD to better connect with its scenic and formerly industrial waterfront.

Internal view of the Sky Lounge at Long Tan Village

RSL Lifecare is taking a key role in this renewal by building Long Tan Village, the Newcastle CBD’s first vertical retirement community consisting of 76 apartments and penthouses.

The project includes a Sky Lounge, boasting panoramic 13-storey high views of the harbour and CBD. Apartment prices ranging from $660,000 to $1.1m.

Co-located within Long Tan’s vertical village will be Badcoe House Residential Aged Care Home, which provides 24-hour nursing care in a homely, comfortable, and safe environment.