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Best Australian cities for retirement

There are always debates between Australians about which city is the best, and most Australians love to argue their city is the place to be.

Last updated: January 27th 2023
When choosing an Australian city to retire in, consider your family, the environment, and lifestyle when making your decision. [Source: Shutterstock]

When choosing an Australian city to retire in, consider your family, the environment, and lifestyle when making your decision. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • If you have always wanted to move to a new city, your retirement can be a great opportunity to relocate and try a new lifestyle
  • Some older Australians choose their new home based on their preferred climate, like the warm weather in Queensland
  • Make sure to think about other personal obligations you have before deciding to retire in a new city

While there will always be debates over which city is best to live in, on an individual level, there are many reasons why you would decide to move and retire to a new city.

If you are looking at retiring in Australia and want to move – and are not constrained by staying near family, friends or obligations – then you need to consider the lifestyle, travel, and climate of where you want to live.

Here is our breakdown of the benefits of each major city:

Adelaide, South Australia (SA)

Recently named in the top 3 most liveable cities in the world, Adelaide has a number of stellar reasons to retire. Locals often refer to Adelaide as a ‘mini-sized’ version of Melbourne, having a strong café and art culture.

Traffic in the city is reasonable compared to the bigger cities and Adelaide is situated well between wine countries and the sea.

If you are interested in camping and caravanning, Adelaide has easy access roads to get out of the city and visit the Flinders Ranges or make a trip to any of the stunning Peninsula’s.

The ‘City of Churches’ is also known as THE festival city in Australia, hosting the Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, OzAsia Festival, SALA (South Australian Living Artists) Festival, SANTOS Tour Down Under, and so much more.

Brisbane, Queensland (QLD)

Known fondly as the ‘Florida of Australia’, many older Australians retire to Queensland as the weather is good for their health and body.

Brisbane is considered one of the most sustainable cities in the country due to its large entertainment areas and over 2,000 green spaces.

There are a lot of nearby attractions if you want to explore outside of Brisbane, including the Great Barrier Reef at the Sunshine Coast, the sandy shores of Fraser Island, or the hikes available at Tamborine Mountain.

It goes without saying that Brisbane also has some of the best beaches in the world, and includes a strong surf and swim culture.

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

The capital of Australia boasts a wide array of historical sites that may be of interest to any history fanatics with the Australian War Memorial and Old Parliament House.

Canberra has some of the best healthcare services in the country, even the world, and is also the safest city in Australia to live in with a very low crime rate. Additionally, Canberra has very well organised public transport and is more bike-friendly than other cities.

The capital is considered a hot spot for education, learning and exploring, with multiple science museums to visit, like the National Dinosaur Museum, the National Zoo & Aquarium, and the famous Questacon (the National Science and Technology Centre).

The other benefit of living in Canberra is the easy access to other major cities being halfway in between Sydney and Melbourne. If you don’t want to travel too far out, the Canberra wine region begins on the outskirts of the city.

Darwin, Northern Territory (NT)

Deciding to move Top End is popular among older Australians as Darwin boasts a very tight knit seniors community. And similar to Queensland, people move to Darwin for the warmer weather.

If you want to experience rich Aboriginal culture, Darwin is the place to go. It is abundant in indigenous history and close to very important Aboriginal cultural sites. Darwin also has many historical sites to visit based on major events, like Cyclone Tracy and World War II.

If you enjoy camping and exploring Australia’s natural riches, Darwin can be a great central location for stunning camping opportunities, like the Kakadu National Park or the Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park.

Darwin is also a prime location for overseas travel, as you have easy access to flights to India or Singapore.

Just watch out for the crocodiles – the current ratio of humans to the wild beasts is nearly one-to-one, so keep an eye out!

Hobart, Tasmania (TAS)

Many people know that Tasmania is beautiful to visit, so why not take the plunge and live on the island full-time? Some retirees decide to do the opposite of finding hot weather and opt for a cooler climate.

Hobart has gorgeous historic streets around the Salamanca Markets area and it is known to be a very friendly, relaxed city.

The arts and culture in the city are also abundant with much of the art on the island pushing boundaries, like at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and the controversial and unique Dark Mofo Festival.

The city is also the perfect starting point to make a “tree change” and connect with some of the best natural, untouched forests in Australia.

If you are looking for ‘fresh air’ then there is no better place than Hobart, as Tasmania has some of the cleanest air in the world.

Melbourne, Victoria (VIC)

If you like the hustle and bustle of the city, as well as having everything right at your fingertips, then Melbourne might be the best city for you to retire in.

Melbourne has the best voted public transport in the country with a strong train, tram and bus system. Additionally, it has excellent access to hospitals and healthcare services.

The city also has an advanced coffee, food, music, and art culture with the likes of Degraves Place or the retail and entertainment strip along Chapel Street, Prahran.

Melbourne is also a perfect location to keep yourself busy with the many museums, art galleries, and festivals. A lot of these events are free or have concessions for retirees as well!

If you can’t keep yourself busy in the city, the regional trains can easily take you to areas outside of the city, like Bendigo, Ballarat or Geelong for day trips.

Perth, Western Australia (WA)

Perth is a slow-paced city that hosts some phenomenal beaches and amazing scenery, which can make the place an ideal city to retire to.

Compared to the ever-increasing prices in Sydney or Melbourne, Perth is rather reasonably priced. It also has a similar sunny climate to Brisbane and has scored well internationally in its access to healthcare, education, and infrastructure.

If you are looking to get away from it all for a couple days, Perth is close to the Pinnacles Desert – perfect for viewing amazing sunsets and stargazing.

It is only a stone’s throw away from the famous island of the happiest animals on Earth, the quokkas, on Rottnest Island. The fabulous Margaret River, which juggles amazing wine, stunning beaches and a strong food culture, is also well worth a visit.

Sydney, New South Wales (NSW)

Considered by most as the “true capital” of Australia, the busy city hosts the most iconic attractions of the country, like the Opera House, Luna Park, and the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

The city has many things to do with festivals and events on every other day, and the museums and art galleries always have something new to showcase.

While the inner city can be expensive, the outer suburbs of Sydney still have a very attractive proximity to amenities, like shops, healthcare, and restaurants. If you have always loved a busy city, Sydney will be a fabulous place to live thanks to its diverse people and cultural hubs.

The Sydney Airport is also the main location for international flights to come and go through, so if you are looking at overseas travel during your retirement, this might make your travel plans easier.

Similar to other cities, Sydney also has good access to medical facilities and aged care options. Transport-wise, there is a strong network of trains and buses available, as well as the Sydney Ferries.

Other considerations

Besides the wish to live in a city that meets your lifestyle, you should also consider how it will impact other aspects of your life, this could include:

  • Are you intending to travel? Internationally or locally?
  • Are you moving into a retirement village, aged care home, or buying a new home?
  • How much involvement do you want in the community?
  • What area can you afford to move into?
  • What happens if you get sick or if there is a family emergency?
  • Have you planned for future aged care?
  • Do you have a connection to the city? Why do you think this city is the right place for you?
  • Will family be nearby or are you moving away from family?

To read more about transitioning into retirement, read our article, ‘Best Australian cities for retirement‘.

What Australian city is at the top of your list to retire to and why? Tell us in the comments below.

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