As you approach or enter your retirement years, there can be a desire to move away from your current place of residence and start afresh in a new location – a new atmosphere, a new climate, and a new start.

Depending on your personal circumstances, this desire can often culminate into one of the following:

  • a sea change (moving to a sea-side location)

  • a tree change (moving to a rural/country location)

  • or a blend of both (depending on the location)


Interestingly, for inner city or suburban dwellers, this desire is often categorised as ‘counter-urbanism’ (the desire to pursue a shift in housing type and a reduction in ongoing living expenses).


Sea/tree change retirement destination hotspots

If a sea/tree change is a desire of yours, you are not alone in this regard. Based on recent data* on regional population by age, there appear to be sea/tree change retirement destination hotspots.

Please see below for a breakdown of the median age for each capital city, and the top two ‘highest median age’ locations for each state/territory – inclusive of recent data^ on median house prices (where available).


Sea/tree change considerations

Making a move to a new location can be a major life event and as such requires careful research and planning (rather than hard and fast decisions), which capture the relevant sea/tree change considerations.

Given this, one way to tackle sea/tree change considerations can be through the utilisation of a somewhat jumbled version of the ‘Five Ws and How’ (i.e. why, who, what, where, how, and when) principle.

Please note: Although not comprehensive, the checklist below can be useful in terms of narrowing down locations and comparing to your existing location – weighing up the pros and cons in both instances.


  • Why will you be making a move (lifestyle, financial, or both)? For example, your children have flown the coop. Alternatively, or in the same vein, you would like to downsize the family home and in doing so also unlock some additional capital to help fund (or boost) your retirement lifestyle.


  • Who will you be making a move with? For example, your partner, and other family members (children and elderly parents).

  • Who will you be leaving behind/moving closer to? For example, your friends and family members, as well as other social networks (community groups).

  • Who will you need to notify? For example, your friends and family members, as well as relevant government (Australian Electoral Commission, Australian Taxation Office, Human Services, etc.) and non-government organisations (financial institutions, health services, utility providers, etc.).


  • What will you be looking for with regard to housing type by making a move? For example, a house or an apartment, and whether this is incorporated within a retirement village or not.

  • What will you be up for in terms of the associated upfront and ongoing expenses? For example, property (buyingselling, etc.) and day-to-day living (groceriesutilities, etc.) costs.

  • What will you be planning to do there? For example, community and extra-curricular activities (volunteering, sport, etc.) and some form of paid employment.

  • What will you be requiring in terms of services? For example, health services (general practitioners, specialists, allied health, etc.) and transport services (buses, trains, ferries, etc.).


  • Where will you be moving to (in general)? For example, a remote area (with potentially limited services) or a popular tourist destination (with distinct high/peak, shoulder and low/off seasons).

  • Where will you be moving to (in reference to…)? For example, your friends and family members, as well as services (health services, transport services, shopping facilities, etc.) and certain area-specific risks (fire, storm, theft, etc.).


  • How will you be making a move (financially-speaking)? For example, renting out your family home and renting in the new location for a period before proceeding with a more permanent commitment. Alternatively, selling the family home and using the proceeds to buy a new home.

  • How will you be funding your cost of living? For example, drawing upon existing sources of income and investing (inside and/or outside of super) a portion of the sale proceeds from your family home.

  • How will you be positioned in terms of aged care services and housing adaptability as you progress through your retirement years? For example, access to aged care services in the area and house’s adaptability to your changing needs over time (wheelchair access, handrails, one storey, etc.).


  • When will you be making a move? For example, as soon as possible, upon reaching retirement or when your children have flown the coop.

Importantly, if your sea/tree change is not on the cards just yet, it can be prudent to revisit this checklist (and any other relevant considerations) closer to the date. Things can change between now and then.


Moving forward

As previously stated above, approaching or entering retirement, the desire can arise to move away from your current place of residence and start afresh in a new location – for example, a sea/tree change.

However, making a move to a new location requires careful research and planning, which captures the relevant considerations – there are many as you can see from the above ‘Five Ws and How’ checklist.

Importantly, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare#, “healthy ageing involves more than just good physical health. Social and mental wellbeing are also important determinants.”

Given this, when moving to a new location, it’s important to keep up your physical health, build a social network (engage with your new community), and stay mentally active (participate in continued learning).

If you have any questions regarding this article, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Belinda Frazer