Victoria’s top retirement spots revealed in Demographics Group research
Towns in Victoria’s west and north have been named the best places to retire as a “wave” of Baby Boomers prepares to abandon the city for regional areas.
Kerang, Kyabram and Tatura lead the list of unexpected retirement gems compiled in an exclusive analysis for the Sunday Herald Sun.
And experts say the wave is an economic boon for the areas.
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The Demographics Group, backed by Bernard Salt, considered all 350 towns and city’s across Victoria, literally doing the math to find the “perfect retirement towns”.
Population growth, cost of living and even religious observance were used to pin down the best places to make the most of your golden years.
Demographics Group co-founder and research director Simon Kuestenmacher said the list was a never-before-seen shortcut to the towns best suited to retirees.
“I’m fairly certain nobody does the math,” Mr Kuestenmacher said.
“A lot of them will (just) be looking to go back to where they grew up.”
Larger cities from Horsham in the state’s west to Swan Hill in the north west and Wangaratta in the north are expected to attract the majority of relocating retirees in coming years.
But cities with more than 500,000 people were cut from the list because of their frantic pace and higher house prices.
“There’s an affordability aspect. If you own a home in Melbourne wherever you go will be cheaper,” Mr Kuestenmacher said.
“So you should have some extra money to spend on trips or on the grandchildren.”
High levels of volunteering were also factored in, on the proviso they would build community spirit.
“We figured there seems to be a goldilocks zone of retirees that gives the town a different kind of energy,” Mr Kuestenmacher said.
Scenic Myrtleford on the edge of the state’s Alpine region, Rochester near Echuca, or Terang and Camperdown in the west round out the top 10.
Wangaratta — birth place of Victorian Premier Daniel Andews — was the most expensive city in the list, with a $314,000 median house price, less than half what you’d pay in Melbourne.
A home in Kerang could be yours for just $177,500.
Association of Independent Retirees Victorian president Jean Wise said retirees renting in Melbourne were finding they could afford to buy a home in a regional town or city.
“And I think as the word gets out we will see an increase in the number that will end up moving to regional towns,” Ms Wise said.
The towns with the right mix are poised to reap the benefits of a retiree boom as every Baby Boomer in the state reaches official retirement age in the next 10 years.
“The big wave is starting to happen,” Mr Kuestenmacher said.
“There will be enough that think of a lifestyle change, and you can easily sell your Melbourne house and buy a beautiful, energy-positive home in Swan Hill.
“Someone who comes with a filled-up super account and a recent house sale could kickstart a local economy.”
Regional Cities Victoria chair Margaret O’Rourke said rising numbers of retirees heading to regional cities was in turn attracting more government funding, and that some towns like Horsham were on the cusp of their next “golden age”.
“I think it will breathe new life into some of these communities,” Ms O’Rourke said.
“We are used to seeing a real pattern of people retiring home (to these towns). But I have seen a real shift of people actually coming here because they are choosing it.”
After 13 years at Horsham’s Ingenia Gardens retirement village, Florence Webb and partner Cyril, along with neighbour Stan Carr, have come to love the city’s laid-back pace.
With enough in town to keep them busy, but still have time to fish the Wimmera River on their doorstep, it has proven the perfect spot for their golden years.
“It’s as busy as you make it,” Ms Webb said. “I volunteer at the local food centre … and we fish quite a bit.”
SUNNY SIDE OF COUNTRY LIVING
Withmore sunshine than Queensland it’s hard not to see the bright side to retiring in Horsham.
An average 61 days with rain in a year leaves plenty of time for volunteering, catching up with friends — and hitting the Horsham Golf Course, ranked 96th Australia wide.
The club’s women’s vice-captain and retiree Helen Burke said it was “one of the best” retirement towns in the state with “better weather than Queensland”.
“We really do have lots to do,” she said.
Horsham mayor Mark Radford said the town’s services, local hospital and its mix of cultural and recreational activities were well suited to retirees.
“While we aren’t purely a retirement destination, it’s certainly an area that attracts retirees,” Mr Radford said.
Efforts to reconnect the town to Melbourne via rail as well as plans to better use the Wimmera River in town would “tick most of the boxes” for retirees considering a move.
VICTORIA’S TOP 10 RETIREMENT TOWNS
In Victoria’s north west on the Loddon River, Kerang is the commercial centre to a farming district.
NN Population: 3893
NN Median house price: $177,500
NN Average temperature (Jan): 31.7/15.2
NN Average temperature (Jul): 14.1/3.9
NN Rainy days a year: 55
In the Goulburn Valley, the town is supported by dairy
and orchard operators.
NN Population: 7321
NN Median house price: $261,000
NN Average temperature (Jan): 30.5/14.6
NN Average temperature (Jul): 13.2/3.1
NN Rainy days a year: 65
About 18km west of Shepparton, the town is a manufacturing hub.
NN Population: 4448
NN Median house price: $231,000
NN Average temperature (Jan): 29.8/14.3
NN Average temperature (Jul): 13/3
NN Rainy days a year: 69
A scenic town on the northern footsteps of Victoria’s Alpine region.
NN Population: 3193
NN Median house price: $285,000
NN Average temperature (Jan): 30.8/11.7
NN Average temperature (Jul): 12.6/2.1
N Rainy days a year: 66
Located on the Wimmera River in the central west of the state, it is a three-time winner of Australia’s Tidiest Town.
NN Population: 17,023
NN Median house price: $259,500
NN Average temperature (Jan): 31.3/12.7
NN Average temperature (Jul): 13.7/3.2
NN Rainy days a year: 61
Wangaratta is Victoria’s 10th most populous city, located at the juncture of the Ovens and King rivers.
NN Population: 28,824
NN Median house price: $314,000
NN Average temperature (Jan): 32.1/14.3
NN Average temperature (Jul): 12.9/2.5
NN Rainy days a year: 75
In an agricultural district, the town is named after the area’s original publican.
NN Population: 3113
NN Median house price: $235,500
NN Average temperature (Jan): 30.3/14.8
NN Average temperature (Jul): 12.8/3.6
NN Rainy days a year: 62
Located on the Murray River in the state’s north west, with a range of food and historical attractions.
NN Population: 10,905
NN Median house price: $268,000
NN Average temperature (Jan): 33.4/16.3
NN Average temperature (Jul): 14.8/3.6
NN Rainy days a year: 45
In Victoria’s west, the town is known among other things for its 100-year-old National Trust-listed trees.
NN Population: 2288
NN Median house price: $189,000
NN Average temperature (Jan): 25/10.8
NN Average temperature (Jul): 12.3/4.1
NN Rainy days a year: 115
A historic town with extensive 19th-century architecture located in the state’s west, inland from Warrnambool.
NN Population: 3369
NN Median house price: $235,000
NN Average temperature (Jan): 26.1/11.6
NN Average temperature (Jul): 12.6/4.2
NN Rainy days a year: 116