The Meeting Place

To move or stay put?

Hi and Happy New Year.

Just wanted a few opinions on an all too familiar dilemma as retirement approaches. I realise nobody can give me the "right" answer  but.. Here goes:

We have always loved Port Stephens NSW and have holidayed there for 30 years, with a view to retiring there one day.

Now I am hearing from people who, due to ongoing  ill health, have found it impossible to remain there as the nearest big hospital is an hour away and the polyclinic is woefully inadequate when you consider the growing  (ageing) population and holidaymakers who rely on it. These people cannot afford to move back to Sydney.

I am not a confident driver and would not drive to Newcastle should anything happen to my partner and public transport is infrequent in this area. Uber would be very costly, too. My partner and I both have chronic health conditions which are manageable and at present we are relatively ok but this can change.

I have also been told by people who live there that the infrastructure is not keeping pace with the growth of over 55 lifestyle resorts and the power/water supplies will suffer as a result. I don't know how true this is, but frankly it is putting us off moving there.

If we stay in Sydney it is certainly more convenient (infrastructure and family wise) but we will be giving up on our dream. Our children love this area and are saying we are crazy not to go. They would visit frequently as they go there for holidays anyway but we would not ever expect them to drop everything and come running if we took sick (it's a 3 hour drive for them whereas now they live 30 mins away).

Friends of ours are taking the plunge and moving up there soon but they too have their worries about whether or not it's the right thing to do.

I know nobody can see into that crystal ball and some people are more easygoing than others...we tend to overthink things, sadly. All opinions welcome  (unless they are sarcastic/nastily unhelpful). Thank you.

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I have no idea of the value of real estate in Port Stephens compared to Sydney but I made the mistake of selling a house in a capital city to move to a regional area and if I had my time over I wouldn't do that again.

I now live in Ipswich and I don't regret the move, I have been happy here, more land, a bigger house, but I do regret selling my little Brisbane house.  I wish I had kept it as a rental.  At least then I would have had the option of moving back if I wanted to.  Now I'm not sure I could afford it.

Maybe you could hang onto your house in Sydney and rent in Port Stephens for a while to see if you really want to live there. Holidaying and living full time in a place can be a bit different.

As far as real estate value: we don't live in an expensive part of Sydney so the house we would buy in Port Stephens would be roughly of equal value to our current one, maybe slightly less. We really don't need to rent any more in Port stephens as we have done so for long periods over many years and know what living there is like, through all seasons; no surprises there. We love the place and feel so at peace there. It's just the lack of medical facilities as we age....our friends are going to keep their Sydney specialists and go back there when necessary but that is rather strange and inconvenient if they need treatment! They have nowhere to stay if their other half was hospitalised in sydney.

all I know is that I am so darn pleased we downsized to a not for profit thing we ever did...more social life, new friends, no gardens to worry about, keeping fit in the new gym with a personalised plan, great functions every month, happy hour every week if you wish to go, keep fit classes, shopping trips you name it it is there.....when you go into a village you are buying a lifestyle, not buying to make a profit on your new home.

if you want to stay in your home with a large garden, and all that is involved in looking after as 20 year old home that constantlly needs maintenan ce, high rates, every increasing insurance and the loneliness when your partner dies , and all the outgoings...just stay where you are to leave it all to your kids.


I stress this is a "not for profit" village not one of the others.   I know exaclty how much we will get if we move into a nursing home environment and we will get a cheque in our hand in 60 days.  We do not have to sell it ourselves which can take years if you are in a for profit village.  


If you leave it until one of you is too ill to have left it too late!

Hi there Hyperbole, for Not-For-Profit over 55s retirement communities, can I recommend you check out either Living Gems (Queensland only)  or Gemlife (Queensland, NSW & Vic)   We made the move last April to the Woodend (Vic) Gemlife resort, and while it is still being built, we have been absolutely overjoyed with our new life here. I have a friend in Living Gems Caboolture and they also are totally rapt with their life there.


Yes, Hyperbole, I see the advantages and we have considered an over 55 lifestyle village (not sure how to find a not for profit place?)

The one our friends are moving to is land lease and the monthly maintenance fees seem very expensive to us. The back yard you couldn't swing a rat in, let alone a cat and it has artificial grass (shudder). My husband loves gardening and even the size of dog we are allowed is restricted at the village our friends are going to. We do not like to be told what to do. 

I do see the advantages, though and am glad you are so happy where you are. Just don't think it's for everyone, especially introverts like me. Maybe further down the track we may change our minds, though.


Agree with you Holly

The infrastructure in the Rural areas is pathetic and the results can be seen from

Garvan researchers who collated data from health peak bodies across the country to produce the report.

"So really, in every facet of health, the outcomes are worse in rural and regional areas."

Health outcomes for regional people:

40 per cent higher death rate in remote areas compared to a major cityLife expectancy

2.5 years lower for men and 1.3 years lower for women in outer regional, remote and very remote areas

Five-year relative survival for cancer decreases with increasing remoteness

Diabetes killing more people in remote and very remote areas compared with regional and city areas

Prevalence of asthma significantly higher in regional areas compared with major cities

Adults in outer regional and remote areas more likely to be overweight or obese (69.5 per cent) compared with adults in major cities (60 per cent)


We moved from Sydney to a regional area in 1987 -- where we had holidayed for many years and loved the place -- although it was a village then and still a village atmosphere when we moved here.

My husband died 2 years after we moved here  (at the age of 50)  after an 18-month illness but I am still here and AND in the same house with a huge yard LOVE it and you would not get me near Sydney ever again.

I just wish we could have moved here many years before but you have to stay where the work is.

Oh dear, we're not much help, are we Holly?  LOL  You seem to be getting both sides of the story.  Whatever you decide to do I hope it all works out for you.

PlanB, how sad to have lost your husband so soon after the big move and at such a young age.  It's good to hear you are still happy there though.   

I have a friend who went through something similar, losing her husband soon after moving to a regional area. 

She found the smaller community was very helpful to her in what became a time of emotional and practical need.  They were in the middle of renovating an old house when he passed and that small regional community all pitched in to help her finish the project.  



Yes, Leonie, it was very sad that Hubby was never able to enjoy our move and he suffered so badly -- we had no Palliative care here then so I was trained via the Mater hospital to be able to do it for him -- thank goodness as it enabled him to spend most of the time in the home he loved and in the company of friends and family that we're always here on weekends.

I am pleased we were here as if we had been in Sydney it would have been even further-- well because of the bumper to bumber traffic in Sydney AND with much more traffic to get to the Hospitals there.




I had always wanted to move to a quiter place. Husband was never into moving. When he got very ill with Prostate Cancer he never wanted Chemo or Radiation and decided to live out his days quietly. It was okay for him but I was the one who had a difficult time what with doctor's appointments and hospital appointments to have a Catheter fitted then arranging home nurses to come every three weeks to renew a Catheter. I thought I was going off my head, and always putting on a front that everything was okay. When he eventually passed that's when my health started to go downhill and ended up having a triple by-pass. But I was strong and recovered within 6 weeks and that's when I decided to sell our home and move closer to friends and family. Although I don't see family that often I still have my friends around, and that's what keeps me going. You can't keep following your children around because they have their own lives to lead.

Having elderly friends who live on the central coast and spend a lot of time driving back and forth to Sydney for medical appointments, I think you have more plus points for staying than going, your kids being close is another.   Hope whatever you decide, you have a happy and healthy retirement.  

We were going to move to an isolated area in Far North Queensland where we had wonderful holidays over the years, until a cyclone changed our minds.

I'm so glad we didn't move. Stayed on the Gold Coast after earlier living on the Central Coast in NSW. My husband ended up getting cancer and I was so grateful for the huge range of health servicers and support available locally. He died unfortunately and then I got sick. My local bulk-billing GP is 5 minutes away, plenty of parking and I can get in any time I want. Nearest big hospital and related support services only 10 minutes away with good parking. My family is 15 minutes away which is another huge bonus.

All the best with your retirement Holly. Hope everything goes really well for you.

Sorry to hear your sad story too, RnR.  

We also love Far North Queensland, have holidayed a few times in Port Douglas, but I don't think I could handle the heat, not to mention the Crocodiles and Irukandji.  I'd love to move to the Gold Coast, but my partner isn't all that keen.  I don't know why like you say you have everything there.  Even a light rail system.  

Thank you so much, everyone, for your wonderful comments. You truly are a great group of people and I am so sorry for your sadness RnR and Plan B.

I supose we all have to be brave no matter what life throws our way and it's probably unrealistic for my husband and I to try and cover all bases with our decision.

The bottom line: our heads say "stay put." Our hearts say, "take a chance ".

Whenever we are in Port Stephens it's as if all our worries seem to melt away but I do realise that is not really the case and it truly could be out of the frying pan into the fire. It's just that Sydney is so hectic now and the pace of life is so fast. We would so love to live near the ocean; at present we are approx 1.5 hrs from the sea.

You have all made such good points...thanks again, truly appreciated. Health and happiness to you for 2020 and beyond!


Thank you, Holly, for your  good wishes -- boy do I wish we had Private messaging -- and I wish YOU BOTH all the VERY best


What is private messaging?

It's a feature that is in most other forums, a bit like Facebook messenger.  You can send messages to other forum members privately.  

We no longer have it here.  I don't really know why.  Personally I can't remember ever seeing it, but I think it was still around when I was a newbie, I just never used it.   I think it disappeared a couple of years ago, so it's not likely it will ever be reinstated, but you never know.


I have seen many people sell up and move to an area that had wonderful memories of pleasant holidays who have regreted it after a few months.  The fact is a holiday experiance is not the same as actually living full time in a community.

We made the move to a rural area eight years ago, but we spent many years looking for the right one.  We searched and found an area where we had access to hospitals,  shops and services.  We actually bought the block in that area ten years before we built a house on it and retired there.  We have never regretted it.

Renting in an area for six to twelve months to see if it is really what you want sounds like good advice, it could end up saving you thousands.

Maybe you can compimise by moving to an area between the place you prefer and  facilities that may be required..  We chose to live 5 minutes down the road from a popular developement and saved more than 50% on the purchase price.  It was actually closer to facilities.

Hey Holly the cost of not following your heart means spending the rest of your life in regret. I live near the sea, love it and Port Stephens is a great place to retire. Your having spent 30 years holidaying there tells me you have a good idea of what to expect. Don't know which part you're going to but Nelson Bay is set for a state of the art health centre. Grab the bull by the horns and go, before it's too late. Who knows with a peaceful life and all the fresh air, your health may improve! Good luck.

Great place Port Stephens. We share a weekender shack with another relative at Shoal Bay. Might even end up living there full time one day!

ABE , you make good points and my heart soared when I read your post.  Yes, we should just go for it.

But everyone else also makes good points. It's so interesting to hear everyone's stories.

I made the move to Tasmania and have not regretted it. I was in Tassie when another heatwave hit Sydney about three years ago and not liking the heat that much decided to move. With the current heat waves going on it turned out to be a great move. The myth about Tassie being a cold place is unfounded. I have lived in Canberra and the Snowy Mountains and believe me they were way colder. In fact, where I live I have never seen a frost around my house.

I bought 50 acres in a forest with a four bedromed house. I did that because I wanted things to do and not live in a house twiddling my thumbs. Joined the local tennis club and now President and play at least twice a week. Last week I had my 70th birthday and luckily I am in good health so will continue cutting wood for the fire and maintaining and improving my property.

My cost of living is low as I pay rural rates, have septic and rainwater (you won't run out of that where I live) and electricity seems fairly cheap. No traffic to talk of, 15mins from Devonport and a climate that is temperate and bearable.

I go to the mainland for a couple of months in the winter to visit friends and family. I go on the ferry with my small car and drive around visiting. Last trip nearly 8000 kilometres. Life is good and I wish I had moved here 30 years ago. I feel sorry for those that have to stay in places like Sydney for medical reasons but for me I would never go to Sydney again if I could help it.

Yes, Snowflake Tassie is great -- and can get quite hot there as well -- I went there for a holiday -- people told me it could be seen in a long weekend -- what ROT! 

I took the car and Van and stayed 7 weeks   I would have stayed  longer

but school holidays were starting --  and saw a lot but never saw it all -- and flew over the Sth west -- loved it all.

Not sure about the water temps for swimming there though?

I like places that are nice but I HATE crowded places with a heap of people -- and lots of buildings -- I like nature the most.    I always like to go to places that have peace and quite and lots of natural things --



Snowflake, we love Tassie too but it's way too far from family for us, unfortunately. Your life sounds fantastic! I wish you continuing good health.

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