As COVID-19 continues to impact some parts of Australia more than others, Queensland continues to dominate in the retirement living popularity stakes.
The state is experiencing an ongoing influx of people from all age groups, including downsizers.
Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show Queensland gained 9,800 people from net interstate migration over the December 2020 quarter – more than any other state or territory.
Of these, 1,059, or approximately 11 per cent, were aged 65 years and over.
The Greater Brisbane area attracted a net gain of 4,800 people, the largest from interstate migration since December 2002.
Of these, 269 people were aged 65 and over.
The other 790 people in this age group shifted to other parts of Queensland, which the ABS says reflects a national trend seeing more people move into regional areas.
There are clearly positives driving people to the Sunshine State, but Queensland life isn’t necessarily all beaches and palm trees.
It’s important to be aware of potential drawbacks, as well as the upsides, when thinking about such a move.
The pros of retiring to Queensland
For many people, the appeal of retiring to the Sunshine State revolves around balmy weather and freedom from long, chilly winters.
South East Queensland, where the bulk of the population lives, has a subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and cool to mild winters.
In Brisbane, for example, January is the hottest month with a mean maximum temperature of 29.4°C and minimum of 20.7°C.
July is the coolest, with a mean maximum of 20.4°C and minimum of 9.5°C.
Even in mid-winter, Queenslanders rarely need to rug up to the same extent as their more southerly-dwelling counterparts (except in some regions – more about this below).
This may well sound tempting if you’re coming from frostier climes such as those of Melbourne or Canberra!
For many people, a shift north is cheaper than selling and buying in the local market.
For example, figures from CoreLogic’s latest Home Value Index show that as of May 31, 2021, Sydney’s median house value was $1,186,518 and Melbourne’s $908,239.
In contrast, Brisbane’s median house value was $641,727, a difference of approximately $260,000 to $540,000.
For downsizers exiting Melbourne or Sydney, this additional equity could be invested for the future, used to live on, or put into fulfilling a lifestyle dream – such as the much-anticipated caravanning trip around the country.
With almost 7,000km of mainland coastline, plus more than 6,000km of island coastline, Queensland has long been recognised as an idyllic location for retirees seeking a sea change.
Queensland sports stunning beaches, picturesque tropical islands, and abundant rivers and estuaries, which lend themselves perfectly to lifestyle pursuits such as fishing, boating, surfing, swimming and simply lazing by the water.
But the Sunshine State’s diverse geography, ranging from World-Heritage listed rainforest and reef to vast outback plains, also fosters other lifestyle pursuits.
Many regions have experienced increased interest in local history, culture, food and wine. From tree changers to foodies, Queensland has something for everyone.
Commuting times are often shorter, too, due to less traffic congestion and shorter distances from home to lifestyle opportunities.
For example, on the Gold or Sunshine Coasts, you could live on a peaceful, private hinterland acreage and still be at a stunning beach in under 30 minutes.
While the climate draws many to Queensland, it can be a downside if you struggle with heat and humidity.
The state’s size also means there is significant climate diversity, so don’t fall for the popular impression of nothing but endless sunshine and clear blue skies.
Far North Queensland, for example, has a monsoonal wet season.
Cairns has a mean maximum daily temperature of 31.5°C in December and January, with a minimum of approximately 23.5°C.
It experiences a mean rainfall of 1643mm between December and April, or just over 80 per cent of the annual total.
The mean number of clear days is less than six per month during the same period.
In contrast, Stanthorpe in the Southern Downs has a mean January maximum temperature of 27.5°C and minimum of 15.6°C.
They have slightly more clear summer days, but still only a mean of 4.7 in February. In winter, July’s mean maximum is 14.9°C and minimum 1.0°C.
The area even experiences the occasional winter snowfall!
Another important thing to note is the possibility of severe weather events.
Cyclones can develop in the tropical north during warmer months, with damaging winds and torrential rainfall. Even areas thousands of kilometres away may experience flow-on effects such as flash flooding.
Warm weather and bushy areas can also mean more creepy-crawlies such as mosquitoes, spiders and snakes. Be aware of these issues and do some research before heading north.
Look for features that will help ensure your comfort, such as good cross ventilation, ceiling fans, air-conditioning and insect screens.
Distance from loved ones
It’s also important to think about how you’ll manage a move away from your support networks. Of course, you’ll make new friends in your new community, but how will your move affect existing relationships?
Family and friends will likely want to visit you, and vice versa, which may necessitate flights or long road trips.
The Queensland Government is also known for taking a strong stance on border closures during COVID-19, so be mindful of how this might affect you in what are still unpredictable circumstances.
Queensland has a strong public and private health system. However, some regional and remote areas may have limited health facilities and fewer doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.
You may also have to travel further from these areas to receive specialist treatment.
Some large-scale cultural events, such as performances by international artists or visiting exhibitions, may skip Queensland on their itineraries.
If these events are your thing, it could mean a trip back to Melbourne, Sydney or Canberra to catch them.
Comment from our CEO
CEO of Downsizing.com.au Amanda Graham said there are many reasons why Queensland, long a dream retirement destination for many, continues to grow in popularity.
“For many downsizers from southern states, being able to sell the family home and have money left over for investing or lifestyle is a big positive,” she said.
“What’s more, these downsizers are looking for a warmer climate along with escaping from the significant COVID-19 issues which seem to have impacted Melbourne, and to a lesser extent, Sydney.
Given this, it’s no surprise that Queensland is booming as a downsizing destination.
“However, it’s important to do your research before you decide to make that shift.”
If you want to move to Queensland, Downsizing.com.au has Australia’s best range of properties - find out more here.
Find out more
- How to research your future downsizing neighbourhood
- Why Victorian retirees are chasing the sun north to Queensland's Hervey Bay
- Inside Queensland's amazing new retirement mega-resorts
About the author
Sophia Auld is a freelance writer and editor based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. She made the move from Sydney more than 20 years ago, and has experienced firsthand the pleasures, and some of the drawbacks, of Sunshine State living. She loves the outdoor lifestyle, but the heat and humidity, not so much.