Downsizing decisions are frequently about lifestyle – think great weather and easy access to stunning beaches, café strips, and activities like fishing, walking and cycling.
It’s understandable, then, that Australia's 'top shelf' downsizing areas are often first to spring to mind. Cost, however, can make these areas inaccessible.
Fortunately, it’s still possible to achieve your downsizing dreams. By looking into areas adjacent to better-known suburbs or locations, you can get top-shelf benefits for only a fraction of the price.
We’ve done some of the work for you and explored some options in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, SA and WA.
Long known as a downsizing destination, Hervey Bay is popular for its balmy subtropical climate, 17 kilometres of sandy beaches, and calm bay ideal for water sports like swimming, boating, and fishing.
Just 3.5 hours’ drive north of Brisbane, it’s renowned worldwide as a whale watching destination, as migrating humpbacks take a break in the tranquil waters between July and October.
Hervey Bay also offers easy access to Fraser Island.
The median house price is $417,000 in Urangan and $400,000 in Torquay, while a home near the waterfront in Urangan, Scarness, Pialba, or River Heads could set you back between $1-1.5 million.
But if downsizing to Hervey Bay is on your bucket list, don’t despair!
Torbay Lifestyle Village in Torquay has a range of one-to-three-bedroom homes set on 25 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds available from $205,000.
The village boasts lovely lakes, walkways, native wildlife and shady BBQ areas, plus pools, libraries, a games room, spa, gym and social activities.
And it’s only one kilometre from Torquay Beach and the Esplanade shops, cafes and coastal pathway.
Or from $265,000, you can get a two-bedroom home at Fraser Shores in Urraween.
This community is located an eight-minute drive from the Pialba waterfront, and five minutes to Stockland Hervey Bay Shopping Centre.
Resort-style facilities include a pool, bowling green, and clubhouse, plus there’s onsite RV, caravan and boat parking.
Another renowned downsizing destination, the Gold Coast is famous for its ‘city by the beach’ coastal strip.
Aside from world-class beaches, the Gold Coast has a myriad of waterways popular for boating, kayaking and SUPing (that stands for stand-up paddleboarding, if you were wondering).
The sunny subtropical climate perfectly complements outdoor pursuits.
It also boasts a spectacular hinterland with World Heritage-listed rainforest, plus theme parks, entertainment, and innumerable dining options.
The Gold Coast has some of Australia’s most expensive real estate.
Surfers Paradise’s median house price, for example, is $1.75 million, while a property at Main Beach could set you back $2.1 million.
Luckily, way more affordable options are out there.
If you’ve always hankered after living alongside the Gold Coast canals, TriCare’s Runaway Bay has one and two-bedroom apartments available between $119,000 - $553,000.
Located just 16 minutes’ drive from Surfers Paradise, the community has a private boat mooring, gym, three inground heated pools with spas, a golf putting green, tennis court, restaurant and billiards table.
A seven-minute walk will see you on the Broadwater esplanade.
At 21 minutes’ from Surfers, Burleigh Town Village in Burleigh Heads has a three-bedroom bungalow available for $360,000.
This over 50s residential park is 11 minutes’ walk to Tallebudgera Creek, and eight minutes’ drive to Burleigh Beach with its beautiful headland, parks and cafes.
A modern community centre and facilities are onsite.
Heading towards the hinterland, but still only a 27 minute drive to Surfers, Baldwin Living Sequana at Upper Coomera has a range of two- and three-bedroom villas starting at $285,000, each with an outdoor courtyard patio or garden area.
The property has a heated indoor pool, plus regular social activities, entertainment and excursions.
New South Wales
This seaside town on NSW’s Mid North Coast is enormously popular with downsizers – for good reason.
A pleasant subtropical climate, sparkling beaches, spectacular coastline and rainforest pockets make it perfect for outdoor activities.
It is home to the world-famous Koala Hospital and has a burgeoning food and wine culture.
Newport over 55s lifestyle community, less than 15 minutes’ drive from the beach, has brand-new two- and three-bedroom homes selling from $415,000.
Onsite, you’ll find a swimming pool, bowling green, recreation centre and boat parking.
Riverside Village Port Macquarie, located opposite the Hastings River only seven minutes from town and nine to the beach, has a brand-new two-bedroom home on sale for $260,000.
There’s secure parking for your car, boat and trailer, and the quiet village features a pool and library.
Also near the river and only eight minutes from town, Le Hamel Village has two-bedroom units available from $300,000 - $360,000.
Monterey Camden Haven at Kendall – a village located 30 minutes’ drive from Port Macquarie and minutes to the Camden Haven River – has two-bedroom homes in idyllic, resort-style surrounds starting from $440,000.
Proposed amenities include a pool, tennis court, bowling green and clubhouse.
Approximately 2.5 hours north of Sydney, Port Stephens is a blue-water paradise sporting 26 white sandy beaches, national parks, and abundant marine life.
Adventurous downsizers can dive with grey nurse sharks, hike coastal tracks to spectacular lookouts, swim with dolphins, and fish offshore reefs.
Alternatively, you can watch the sunset from one of numerous vantage points, perhaps with a plate of local seafood.
Parts of Port Stephens are quite pricey. Fingal Bay’s median house price, for example, is $893,500, while a house in the main township of Nelson Bay is $743,000.
Sunrise Port Stephens has two-bedroom homes available from $520,000.
This over 55s resort-style community has a pool, bowling green, lounge area, billiards room, and men’s shed. It’s a 12-minute drive to Anna Bay township and a short walk to the beach.
In Williamtown, 30 minutes from Nelson Bay, Banksia Grove Village has two-bedroom homes set on 20 rural acres available from $120,000.
Resort-style facilities onsite include a swimming pool, tennis court, bowling green, BBQ area and community centre.
On the opposite side of the entrance to Port Stephens, and just a ferry ride across the bay to Nelson Bay, Tea Gardens Grange offers two-and three-bedroom homes from $425,000-$545,000.
This multi-award-winning resort community overlooks a lake, with facilities including a country club, cocktail bar, dining room, games room, and elegant pool.
Victoria's Great Ocean Road has a string of seaside villages which justifiably earn the 'glamour' tag, but also come with a hefty price tag.
Torquay is undeniably stunning but may not be an option with its median house price of $980,000. Lorne is even more expensive at $1,547,500.
For affordable waterside living, consider Pelican Shores Estate at Leopold.
Situated right on the shoreline of Corio Bay and 38 minutes to Torquay, this tranquil village has two-bedroom homes available from $280,000.
Facilities include a swimming pool with spa, bowling green, boating club, and community centre.
You could also consider Lifestyle Communities St Leonards, a new land lease community which is around one hour north of Torquay and where homes start from $305,000, or this three bedroom villa for $825,000 at Ryman’s Deborah Cheetham retirement village.
Similarly, the Mornington Peninsula has some of the priciest properties in Australia.
The median house price in Sorrento sits at $1,872,500, and Portsea even higher at $2,660,000. But if peninsula-style living ticks your downsizing boxes, it’s possible without paying top-end prices.
Seaford is located on the shores of Port Phillip Bay, 20 minutes’ drive from Mornington.
Here, Greenways Village has one-bedroom apartments available from $273,000 and a range of one, two and three-bedroom villa units from $339,500.
It is positioned on 10 acres of landscaped gardens, with facilities including a dining room, games room, library, computer hub, café and movie theatre.
At nearby Patterson Lakes Retirement Village, a 25-minute drive from Mornington, one-bedroom serviced apartments are for sale from $160,000.
The village is a four-minute drive to the waterfront, and some apartments overlook the village lake.
Encounter Bay has a median house price of $465,000, but you can buy in nearby Victor Harbor – renowned for its clear waters, whale watching, Little Penguins and Clydesdale horse-drawn tram trip to Granite Island – for as low as $260,000.
Bay Village Retirement Estate has two- and three-bedroom villas set among lovely gardens, with onsite parking for caravans. It is surrounded by rolling hills and only a three minute drive to Encounter Bay.
Also in Victor Harbor, Rosetta Village – just five minutes’ drive to Encounter Bay – currently has a two-bedroom home available for $237,000.
Victor Harbor is renowned for its turquoise waters, Little Penguins and Granite Island
In nearby Goolwa, where the Murray River meets the sea, Seachange Over 50s Lifestyle Community has two-bedroom homes from $305,000.
The community is set on 26 level acres, a 20-minute or so stroll to the river and Goolwa Beach.
The coastal strip around Perth is understandably popular with downsizers. Fremantle, for example, is a vibrant community buzzing with cafes, pubs and bars, just 20 kilometres southwest of Perth.
Situated on the mouth of the Swan River, it combines the best of port city living with the arts, wining and dining.
Fremantle’s median house price is $880,000, but if waterside living takes your fancy, take a look at Lakeside Village Bibra Lake. This over 55s community offers one- or two-bedroom garden apartments, or spacious one-, two-, or two-bedroom-plus-study villas, from approximately $125-250,000.
The village is a 15-minute drive to Fremantle and located directly across from the Bibra Lakes, with their diverse range of bird life and wetland vegetation.
Onsite facilities include a pool, bowling green, alfresco eating area, workshop, library and clubhouse.
Or a 25-minute drive from Fremantle can see you in a spacious new three-bedroom home at Aspire by Stockland from $537,500. Situated in Treeby, this over 55s community has a $2.5million clubhouse with a gym, billiards room, heated outdoor pool, and alfresco dining and lounge areas.
Downsizing trends mirror upsurge in regional migration
The popularity of downsizing into regional areas reflects a national trend. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released this May showed a net 43,000 Australians shifted to regional areas from capital cities in 2020 – the biggest regional inflow since these figures were first collected in 2001.
Of all the states, Queensland had the largest net inflow, followed by Victoria and New South Wales.
FIND OUT MORE
- Regional areas boom, as downsizers seek to escape from the city
- Discover the newly-built homes available for as little as $239,000 in Australian land lease communities
- Discover the sea change downsizing hotspots which have boomed since COVID-19
- Set yourself up for retirement in these bargain homes under $300,000
Comment from our CEO
Downsizing.com.au CEO Amanda Graham noted there are a huge number of properties close to exclusive suburbs, without the hefty price tag.
“This is great news for downsizers who may be looking for a certain lifestyle, but have a limited budget,” Ms Graham said.
“Let’s face it – not many people have the kind of money you need to buy into somewhere like Portsea in Victoria or Main Beach in Queensland.
"But there are many over 55 villages and other downsizer friendly properties available close to prime locations around Australia which offer an amazing lifestyle at a much more affordable price.
“It can be a great compromise, providing the best of both worlds – a lifestyle with all the things they wanted from a certain location, plus affordability. Some downsizers may even end up with money left over to invest or use to finance other interests.”
Downsizing.com.au has Australia’s largest range of downsizer-friendly properties. Start your search here.