Port Macquarie on NSW’s Mid-North Coast and the inland Queensland city of Toowoomba have again taken top prize as Australia’s most popular retirement and downsizing destinations, according to new statistics from Downsizing.com.au.

An analysis of data from across 2020 shows that Port Macquarie and Toowoomba repeated their 2019 quinella by being the top two most searched localities on Downsizing.com.au during 2020.

In third place was Burpengary, a greenfield residential area in Queensland’s Moreton Bay region where there is strong land lease community activity. Burpengary jumped two spots from 2019, when it held the fifth most popular position.

In 4th place was the NSW Central Coast lakeside hamlet of Chain Valley Bay, up one spot from 2019, while coastal Mandurah in Western Australia took out fifth spot.

Mandurah shot up an incredible seven spaces from its 2019 rank, while other suburbs to show strong improvement from 2019 included Newcastle (NSW), Bundaberg (Qld), Mornington (Victoria), Geelong (Victoria) and Redcliffe (Queensland).

Here’s the full list below:

In terms of Statewide searches, Queensland and - somewhat surprisingly - Victoria took a greater share of consumer search activity during 2020, while NSW and South Australia saw proportional declines.

In line with a COVID-related trend identified by Downsizing.com.au during 2020, 28.7 per cent of consumers searched for Queensland property, up from 27.2 per cent in 2019.

NSW saw its search share fall from 37.5 per cent to 36 per cent, while Victoria shrugged off its horror year for COVID-19 related issues to rise from 15.4 per cent to 16.3 per cent. 

Here’s how the search share looked across Australia:

Below is more information on each of our most popular retirement locations and links to where you can find homes in these locations:

Port Macquarie (NSW)

Port Macquarie is ideally positioned between two of Australia’s bustling cities - about 390km north of Sydney and 570km south of Brisbane – and also serviced by its own airport. 

For those wanting a literal sea change, Port Macquarie boasts 17 beaches, while the region’s expanding events calendar is also a drawcard.

Port Macquarie has a wide range of downsizer property, including retirement villages, land lease communities and general apartments and homes.

While it includes properties for very reasonable prices in the under $250,000 price bracket, it’s also favoured by big developers who have created resort-style retirement villages.

Toowoomba (Qld)

According to the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce, Toowoomba is a major growth area, fueled by industry diversification and spending on infrastructure.

With parkland over 25 hectares, it’s no surprise Toowoomba is known as the Garden City. The parklands encompass Queens Park Botanic Gardens, Vera Lacaze Memorial Park and Queens Park's greater park area.

Located 125km west of Brisbane, Toowoomba boasts the “world class” Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport. 

Toowoomba is known for its beautiful gardens

Villas feature prominently in properties for sale on Downsizing.com.au, along with retirement villages offering a multitude of benefits, including Southern Downs views.

On the historical front, Toowoomba is home to the Cobb+Co Museum, which chronicles transport from horse-drawn carriages to farming wagons.

Burpengary (Qld)

Conveniently located between Brisbane City and the Sunshine Coast, Burpengary is part of the Moreton Bay Region.

Although the region’s population increased by 2.8% in the decade from June 2006-June 2016, 40% growth is forecast by 2036.

Construction is underway on a $40 million Burpengary Community Club. On the retail front, Burpengary is home to major retail outlets with many under the one roof at Burpengary Plaza.

Burpengary Station provides easy access to Brisbane, in about 45 minutes, as well as other hubs such as Ipswich in the south-east, Queensland’s oldest provincial city. 

Chain Valley Bay (NSW)

The little known NSW Central Coast suburb of Chain Valley Bay is something of a surprise downsizer hotspot. This hidden gem suburb is nestled between waterfront suburbs Mannering Park and Summerland Point and also borders picturesque Lake Macquarie.

Chain Valley Bay has a stunning lakeside location

Despite only having a population of 2,459 in the 2016 census, it’s now appealing to downsizers,  particularly those looking for affordable, lakeside living in a land lease community. According to the 2016 census, the median age in the suburb is 56.

Mandurah (WA)

Mandurah is located about 72km south of Perth’s CBD, it is the state’s largest regional city and one of its fastest-growing cities.

Security-gated, retirement villages are part of the housing mix available for downsizers in Mandurah.

With a focus on natural environment, Mandurah’s drawcards include the Mandurah Ocean Marina, a hub for boating enthusiasts with waterfront stalls, dining and shops. Short-term accommodation is also on offer, at Mandurah Marina Ocean Chalets

WA's Mandurah is growing in popularity

Mandurah train station provides a quick trip into Perth, in under an hour.

Hervey Bay (Qld)

An idyllic location in and of itself, Hervey Bay is also a hub for visitors to Fraser Island. Ferry services go from River Heads, 20 minutes south of the city, to Kingfisher Bay resort, on the island’s western side.

Tourists and whale watching season aside, many pre-retirees and retirees call Hervey Bay home. Properties available for sale are predominantly freestanding homes within villages.

Hervey Bay is known as a whale watching mecca

Hervey Bay is close to Brisbane - via a 40-minute flight or 3.5 hour drive - and is serviced by its own airport.

Hervey Bay’s scenic Esplanade, which stretches along about 17km of beachfront, takes in residential, commercial and tourist areas. To safeguard the popular spot, Fraser Coast Regional Council is developing a future vision for the precinct.

Newcastle (NSW)

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

For the last two decades, Newcastle’s inner-city has suffered from urban decay. The main thoroughfare of Hunter St has experienced empty retail shops and a lack of foot traffic and new development.

This trend is now being reversed, thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in new infrastructure.  

Newcastle's CBD is undergoing renewal

The NSW Government invested over $650 million into the CBD renewal with the recently-opened Newcastle Light Rail a significant cogwheel in the renaissance.

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