Coastal areas fringing State capitals have experienced a downsizing boom since the onset of COVID-19, thanks to more over 50s seeking a new sea change lifestyle with easy access to the big smoke.

An analysis of consumer search activity on Downsizing.com.au during the financial year 2020-21 has revealed a clear shift towards waterside regional or outer urban areas which frame large cities. 

Areas which have seen more consumers looking for downsizing and retirement living include:

  • Mandurah (Western Australia)
  • Newcastle and Wollongong (NSW)
  • Gold Coast, Redcliffe and Caloundra (Queensland)
  • Mornington and Geelong (Victoria)

You can find out more about these areas below, or visit our brand-new regional guides section of the website to find out more.

Area: Mandurah
State: Western Australia
Most searched suburb ranking in 2020-21: 3
2019-20 ranking: 6

Off the back of a well overdue recovery in the Perth and WA real estate market, and the shift towards regional areas, there has been far greater consumer interest in Mandurah.

It is now the third most searched location on Downsizing.com.au, up from sixth position in 2019-20.

Mandurah is Western Australia’s largest regional city located about an hour south of Perth.

Mandurah takes advantage of its waterside location

Known for its magnificent beaches and an estuary twice the size of Sydney Harbour, this area represents an excellent retirement location for downsizers seeking laid-back coastal living and outdoor attractions.

Area: Newcastle
State: NSW
Most searched suburb ranking in 2020-21: 6
2019-20 ranking: 8

Newcastle – once known as an industrial town with a moribund main street – has been reinvented as a lifestyle location which offers both a beautiful coastline and increasingly buzzing urban scene.

Newcastle is known for its stunning coastline
Newcastle is known for its stunning coastline

The new light rail line down Hunter St has spurred new apartment development, which in turn has triggered the opening of shops, cafes and restaurants. Inner-city Newcastle downsizers also have easy access to beaches and the Honeysuckle waterfront and several beaches.

Newcastle has clearly benefited from the increased interest in regional areas, as a result of COVID-19, while at the same time having easy access to Sydney by train or road when Novocastrians need to pop back to the big smoke.

Area: Mornington
State: Victoria
Most searched suburb ranking in 2020-21: 8
2019-20 ranking: 9

Located 57km south of the Melbourne CBD, Mornington is a town centre in the broader Mornington Peninsula. 

This makes it a great launchpad to explore the peninsula’s stunning natural attractions, including its 190km of coastline.

The Mornington peninsula is a favourite among Melbourne downsizers

Mornington is a great attraction in its own right, having great shops, local farmers markets, antique shops, galleries, cafes and restaurants.

You can sample delicious beers and ciders from craft breweries, and visit the famous vineyards of the Mornington Peninsula.

Area: Redcliffe
State: Queensland
Most searched suburb ranking in 2020-21: 9
2019-20 ranking: 13

Redcliffe is a coastal, residential suburb on Moreton Bay, only a 40-minute drive from Brisbane city. It’s considered a great place to live and relocate to during retirement.

It has an old-town charm and great places to visit. Woody Point Jetty is a local favourite for fishing and watching stunning sunrises and sunsets. 

Redcliffe is relatively close to Brisbane but retains a seaside charm

The pristine Margate Beach has golden sand and sheltered waters perfect for swimming. 

While you’re there, you can enjoy great dining options and taste fresh local seafood with ocean views as a backdrop. The Redcliffe Library and the Redcliffe Art Gallery are also great options to while away a pleasant afternoon.

Area: Gold Coast
State: Queensland
Most searched suburb ranking in 2020-21: 10
2019-20 ranking: Not in top 20

Located about an hour from Brisbane, the Gold Coast is a highly diverse region, including both a coastal strip known for its skyscrapers and hinterland better known for low density living and environmental protection. 

It’s rocketed into the top ten most searched list on Downsizing.com.au, after not even figuring in the top 20 most searched list in 2019-20.

The Gold Coast is known for its iconic seaside skyscrapers but also has an extensive low density hinterland

An increasing number of people are opting for the Gold Coast for their retirement, and, by 2031, the number of senior residents in the area is expected to double.

This is not surprising, considering the top-quality hospital facilities and community services senior citizens can find here. Not to mention the numerous real estate options, lively restaurant scene, sandy beaches, beautiful canals and rainforest.

Area: Wollongong
State: NSW
Most searched suburb ranking in 2020-21: 13 
2019-20 ranking: Not in top 20

Just 80km south of Sydney, the coastal city of Wollongong is an attractive option for those considering retirement. It has pleasant weather, beautiful beaches, a great hospital, an active arts scene and a relaxed lifestyle.

Wollongong Harbour is both a commercial port and tourism destination

Wollongong is a multicultural city, which reflects in its great variety of food. You can taste authentic dishes in traditional, family-owned restaurants, international food in street markets, quality seafood and even craft beer. 

This multiculturalism also gives the city a special appeal when it comes to culture. The largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere is located in Wollongong, as well as the impressive City Gallery and the prominent Illawarra Performing Arts Centre.

Area: Geelong
State: NSW
Most searched suburb ranking in 2020-21: 14
2019-20 ranking: 16

Less than an hour from Melbourne, Greater Geelong offers a range of idyllic lifestyle options. Inner city, coastal, suburban, rural or bay side, there’s something for everyone. 

It enjoys all the advantages of cosmopolitan city living without the congestion, and a wide mix of attractions from natural bush to spectacular surf beaches, historic townships to cosmopolitan shopping precincts.

Area: Caloundra
State: Queensland
Most searched suburb ranking in 2020-21: 15
2019-20 ranking: Not in top 20

A picturesque coastal town in Queensland, and a safe, relaxing and enjoyable place to spend your retirement years. Caloundra’s location is privileged: near two airports and with easy access to all the facilities and amenities on the Sunshine Coast.

Caloundra is easy to access and has a laid-back feel

Here you can enjoy beautiful sunsets, clear air and a quality lifestyle by the ocean. There are plenty of beaches nearby, some great for surfers and some with calm, safe waters. There are lifeguard patrols in some stretches and some rocky spits perfect for fishing. Along the coast there are parks with quality facilities like BBQs, picnic tables and boardwalks.

Comment from our CEO

Downsizing.com.au CEO Amanda Graham said the 2020-21 search results showed that the COVID-19 pandemic and the related residential housing boom had sparked many more over 50s to consider downsizing to a lifestyle-rich area.

“This generation has already accumulated considerable equity in their home after decades of paying off a mortgage,” Ms Graham said.

“Their home has been their biggest investment over their lifetime and is now the key to their financial freedom.

For many of these downsizers, moving to a regional area on the outskirts of a major city is very appealing. It gives them the best of both worlds - a new coastal lifestyle away from the hustle and bustle along with the ability to easily travel back into the city to see family and friends, or have them visit.

“In saying this, we are still also seeing very strong growth in search activity for capital city areas, which remain popular with downsizers seeking a vibrant urban lifestyle, along with a newer, more modern home with less maintenance.”