By John McGrath
 
What do Queenscliff Victoria, the Eurobodalla Shire New South Wales and Hinchinbrook Queensland all have in common? They’re all seaside regions, popular with tourists and they have the highest proportion of residents aged 65-plus in their respective states.

Just over 40% of the Queenscliff LGA population is aged 65-plus, according to a report from CoreLogic based on new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.  Almost 30% of Eurobodalla Shire’s residents are 65 or over and in Hinchinbrook, it’s 26%.

CoreLogic’s report lists Australia’s top 50 council areas for over 65s and not surprisingly, we don’t see a single capital city area on the list. This reflects the ongoing Aussie tradition of leaving the big smoke in favour of a seachange to the coast in retirement.

Australians love the ocean so it’s not surprising that many of us want to enjoy our retirement years on the beach in a far more relaxing environment than our cities.

In most cases, there’s also the benefit of much cheaper housing in these areas compared to cities. This is a key element for retirees who are often living solely off capital such as superannuation, other savings and capital gains from selling their city residence.

Comparing median prices:

  • Queenscliff’s median house price is $768,529 compared to Melbourne’s $818,436
  • The Eurobodalla’s median is $455,656 compared to Sydney’s $1,074,552
  • Hinchinbrook’s median is $243,470 compared to Brisbane’s $527,802

In terms of the other states, the most popular retirement destination in South Australia is Victor Harbor, with just under 38% of the population aged 65-plus. In Western Australia, it is Wyalkatchem with 31.5% (although this council area has a very small population overall at just 520 people). In Tasmania, it’s Glamorgan-Spring Bay with 31% of residents aged 65-plus.

Looking at house price growth, most of these locations are not rapidly growing and this is no surprise.  Most regional areas do not have anywhere near the same market dynamics as our big cities where population growth and an undersupply of housing keeps prices rising.

For example, over the past five years Queenscliff house prices have only moved up by 5%. The Eurobodalla has had more impressive gains of 25.2% and Hinchinbrook values have actually declined by 9.5%.

But could we see a significant change in demand over coming decades?

The baby boomer generation has just begun to retire and a huge proportion of these people will want to do the traditional seachange.

The baby boomers are a huge group – we’re talking about 5.6 million people reaching retirement age between 2011 – 2031, based on ABS numbers.  It’s fair to expect that major seachange destinations already popular with retirees will benefit from an inevitable and unusually large population surge over the coming two decades.

I should note here that not all 65-year-olds are ready to retire, so it’s unfair to put them all in the one box. Many are still in the workforce and intend to stay there for a while yet. What we are seeing though is more senior executives still doing the seachange or treechange at 65-plus but without quitting their day job.

Locations such as Port Macquarie and the Blue Mountains in NSW have welcomed many new 65-plus residents over the past five years who are working from home and commuting back to Sydney once or twice a week. This is one of the reasons why improved transport links to capital cities are so important to the economies of major regional hubs.

Here are the Top 10 Most Popular Council Areas for Over 65s in Australia

  1. Queenscliff VIC – 40.3% of population aged 65-plus, median house price $768,529
  2. Victor Harbor SA – 37.7% of population aged 65-plus, median house price $371,204
  3. Barunga West SA – 32.9% of population aged 65-plus, median house price $284,881
  4. Wyalkatchem, WA – 31.5% of population aged 65-plus, median house price SNR
  5. Yorke Peninsula, SA – 31.3% of population aged 65-plus, median house price $254,347
  6. Glamorgan-Spring Bay, TAS – 31% of population aged 65-plus, median house SNR
  7. Eurobodalla NSW – 29.4% of population aged 65-plus, median house price $455,656
  8. Mid-Coast NSW – 29% of population aged 65-plus, median house price $482,066
  9. Tasman TAS – 28.8% of population aged 65-plus, median house price $252,200
  10. Quairading, WA – 28.2% of population aged 65-plus, median house price $210,196

Source: CoreLogic, ABS. *SNR – Statistically not reliable