Australian cities down the list of best places to retire

Where we retire is a big decision but, for most Australians, it will be in this country.

With living costs higher than ever and life expectancy improving every year, it’s crucial that your retirement destination delivers. So how does Australia rank in delivering a world-class retirement?

A new study, conducted by Veolar in partnership with Magmatic Research, identifies the best cities around the world for retirees, and the destinations may surprise you.

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Along with local cost of living, the study rated cities in such categories as quality of healthcare services, public transport and housing to create a list of the top 100 cities around the world for retirees.

From there, the cities were ranked on retirees’ quality-of-life plus how connected the city was to other parts of that country and to the rest of the world.

You might expect Australian cities to take out at least a couple of the top five positions, but that’s not the case.

In fact, only two Australian cities made it into the top 20 and they just scraped in.

Brisbane came in at 18th position, while Adelaide was 19th. Both scored highly in access to healthcare, housing and public transport.

Where both fell down compared to those ranked higher was a comparative lack of cultural events and public outdoor spaces. However, both cities received very high marks for air quality.

Further down the list, Melbourne came in at number 24 and Sydney at 28. While still relatively high compared to other places around the world, Australia’s two largest cities couldn’t crack the top 20 mainly due to mobility issues around public transport access.

Curiously, Sydney and Melbourne also scored relatively poorly on cultural items, which may come as a surprise to anybody who lives in either.

The state capital that ranked lowest on the list among Australian cities was Perth at 37. It was given middling scores across most categories but was marked down harshly for a lack of public transport and the high cost of housing.

So if not Australian cities, then where in the world do retirees have it best?

Tokyo, Japan

Japan’s capital and largest city is consistently billed as one of the world’s most expensive cities, but it takes out top spot for retirees largely thanks to its high-quality accessible healthcare system.

Read: Record levels of working older Australians driving housing reform

Tokyo also received high scores for its public transport and accessibility. This part probably comes as no surprise as Japan’s public transport networks have long been the envy of the world.

Wellington, New Zealand

A bit closer to home, the NZ capital offers a higher (and cheaper) quality of life than the major cities of Australia while remaining culturally very similar.

Ranking very high in areas such as parks and public spaces, as well as air quality, Wellington misses out on top spot for lacking effective public transport.


The city-state of Singapore lies off the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula and offers year-round warm weather and low crime rates.

Cost-of-living for retirees is comparatively low and its high-quality public transport is almost on par with Tokyo.

Singapore loses points for not having the same cultural attractions of other top cities.

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Paris, France

Paris is another city with a reputation for being expensive, but it remains a top destination for seniors thanks to its seemingly endless list of things to do. Excellent museums, theatres, parks and restaurants fill almost every corner of the French capital.

France’s exemplary universal healthcare system is another reason for the high ranking, and has been ranked by the World Health Organization as the best national health service in the world.

Vienna, Austria

Rounding out the top five is Austria’s capital Vienna. Often ranked alongside Australian cities in most livable cities lists, Vienna makes this list thanks in part to its highly accessible public health system.

Public transport in Vienna is also very high quality.

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Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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