For people living on the Sunshine Coast, the fact it’s Australia’s most popular retirement living destination comes as no surprise.
After all, the Sunshine Coast offers an unrivalled blend of wonderful weather, outdoor activities, and world-class shopping and dining along with necessities like high-quality healthcare and transport.
Here’s everything you need to know about Sunshine Coast retirement living, plus some tips for moving to the area locals know is the best place to live on earth.
Sunshine Coast retirement living basics
The Sunshine Coast is located in South East Queensland, approximately 100 kilometres north of Brisbane. Its coastline stretches along the Coral Sea from Pelican Waters to Tewantin. Popular coastal towns include Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore, Coolum and Noosa.
The Sunshine Coast also encompasses a delightful hinterland, including the Blackall Range with its charming villages such as Maleny, Montville and Mapleton. The hinterland is also home to Eumundi and its iconic markets.
Nambour is the historic heart of the Sunshine Coast and is transitioning into a nucleus for retro and vintage lovers, with a thriving café and craft beer scene.
Climate and environment
The Sunshine Coast has a humid subtropical climate. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, January is the hottest month with a mean average maximum temperature of 29.1 and minimum of 21.3°C. July is the coolest, with a mean average maximum of 21.2 and minimum of 9.7°C.
It is wetter from December to May and drier between June and November. February has the highest mean rainfall at 207.5mm, and September the lowest at 53.3mm. These hot and humid weather conditions mean you need to be careful when selecting a new retirement home (more on this later).
On the coast, south-easterly sea breezes often provide cooling relief on hot summer days. The hinterland is also frequently a few degrees cooler and a great place to retreat to on a balmy day.
The environment is wonderfully diverse, including everything from approximately 100km of sandy coastline to spectacular volcanic peaks. Major river systems include the Noosa, Maroochy, Mooloolah and Stanley Rivers. The region also includes several lakes and dams. Boasting 23 national parks, the Sunshine Coast’s diversity of natural features create a plethora of outdoor opportunities, including fishing, sailing, bushwalking, cycling, scuba diving, surfing, kayaking and horse-riding.
Retiring to the Sunshine Coast also provides abundant dining, shopping and entertainment options. Well-known dining precincts include Noosa’s Hastings Street (also renowned for its boutiques) and Ocean Street in Maroochydore. The climate and environment are ideal for agriculture, so there are food trails, festivals and farmers’ markets.
For shopping, the recent $440 million redevelopment of Sunshine Plaza saw the addition of major retailers David Jones and H&M.
Other attractions include cinemas, amusement parks, art galleries, museums, aquariums, golf courses, clubs, observatories and zoos (including Australia Zoo).
The Sunshine Coast has two major north-south road connections (the Bruce Highway and Sunshine Coast Motorways), intersected by various east-west roads.
A train line connects various towns to Brisbane, or you can drive there in about 90 minutes.
Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Qantas service the Sunshine Coast from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Under normal circumstances, Air New Zealand also flies in and out from Auckland.
Most health needs can be met at the Sunshine Coast’s brand-new $1.8billion public hospital in Birtinya, including cancer care, rehabilitation, and specialised medical and surgical services. This is supported by five smaller public health facilities and several private hospitals.
2016 Census data indicated the Sunshine Coast population was 346,522, of whom 20.9 per cent were people aged 65 years and over.
The Sunshine Coast is a hub for retirement living, with a net internal migration of 901 over 65s in 2018-19 – more than any other region in Australia.
Sunshine Coast retirement living options
Options for retirement living on the Sunshine Coast include retirement villages or land lease communities (also known as lifestyle communities and manufactured home estates). While these retirement living options have similarities – like low-maintenance accommodation and communal leisure facilities – there are also key differences.
These revolve around legislation, contracts and fees. In a retirement village, you pay for the right to occupy your home and use the communal amenities. You might need to pay a deferred management fee (DMF or exit fee). Retirement villages are more likely to offer care options or have an aged care facility onsite.
With land-lease communities, you pay upfront to purchase your home and lease the land it’s on. Ongoing site fees may be higher than those for retirement villages because the companies who own them can legally profit from general running fees. However, there’s usually a lower (or no) DMF.
Most of the retirement villages and land lease communities are located in the central part of the Sunshine Coast, around the Maroochy River and in the strip that stretches west to Nambour.
Sunshine Coast property prices
Sunshine Coast retirement living property prices vary widely, ranging from approximately $150,000 for a studio apartment in a retirement village to $1million-plus for a brand-new, deluxe penthouse or standalone abode. Rental prices also vary but expect to pay upwards of $280 per week.
As a rule, you’ll pay more for a property that is new, freestanding, larger, offers more facilities or is in a highly sought-after area.
Helpful hints for retiring to the Sunshine Coast
- Be prepared for the heat and humidity – this can be a shock for people moving here from cooler climes. Consider looking for a place with air-conditioning and/or a swimming pool (though there's always the beach, of course!).
- The Sunshine Coast can get wild weather, including hail and high winds. Coverage is essential to protect your vehicle.
- The lovely subtropical climate is also favoured by insects, so look for a property with screening.
- Gardeners will be delighted by the variety of species that thrive here and gardening groups are very popular.
- The Sunshine Coast has the largest number of organic, meditation and yoga stores in the country, making it ideal for anyone seeking a relaxed, healthy and sustainable retirement lifestyle.
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Sophia Auld is a freelance writer and editor based on the Sunshine Coast. She mostly writes about health, but also lifestyle, property and technology.