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 moved almost 2 years ago from Sydney to Launceston, which is referred to as a Regional City, sometimes I  am sorry I did due to health problems, I have been waiting to get into several clinics at Launceston General Hospital, and when I rang several months ago regarding one I was told it could be up to another 18 months before I got into this clinic.  I am on a pension with no Private Medical cover, so cannot afford to go to s specialist in their rooms etc. With the change in Premier last week, who is also the Treasurer it seems things will not get better, for that reason I would have been better staying in Sydney, but could not afford to do so.



Jondon, this is Tasmania, with a very poor amateurish Liberal government, so things won't improve. Launceston (Inceston?) has most of the problems of a big city with few of the benefits. It is better to move further out to say Devonport, Ulverstone or Burnie, closer to a less crowded area but with better facilities.

I wouldn't do it. I owned a house in Brisbane but having been brought up in the country, wanted to get out of the city. I then researched and moved to a rural town, renting out my Brisbane home. All I can say is thank god I never sold Brisbane!! I got a good job, and was fairly happy there. That was until a large employer went bust, town started dying, lost my job when dept got moved to another town, then faced medical problems that couldn't be handled locally. Only one very over priced supermarket, with limited stock. Plus crime and drug taking became the 'sport' for many. Rents were still relatively high, only one power supplier, air con a necessity. The absolute only bonus I could find was that I filled up the car with petrol once a month as from one side of town to other was less than 5kms. Very limited shopping, basic tradesmen impossible to get, often having to come hundreds of kms and charging for travel. Very limited activities for any age group, no cinema, average to poor internet. I moved back to city 3 years ago, and was absolutely the right decision. SO much more choice. Many of the people I knew out in the town have or are moving to bigger cities. Is definitely not the 'cheap' option many people think it is.

Just another thought Holly, you could rent your house in Sydney and also rent in Port Stephens for a while to see how you go, you know the area very well but in the winter when the kids are back at school, the country towns take on a different vibe.  

toot20000 , we have spent several winter months up there and love it most at this time of year. The summer is the worst, with the influx of holidaymakers but if we lived there we would cope;just get up earlier, do the shopping and race home before the crowds descend on everything! We honestly do know what it's like in all seasons.

Well Holly, there is a lot of information for you and if I may, here's a bit more. Port Stephens is a beautiful place with limited medical facilities and locals who resent anybody who hasn't lived there for at least 25 years but that's the only downside. It has great beaches to suit everybody, great fishing of all sorts and lots to see and do only a short drive away. We had an on-site van there for many years until the kids grew up and no longer wanted to go there. I'm not sure of the current prices but maybe you could investigate an on-site van as a possibility. You can rent it out to close friends on the sly to off-set the costs when not using it.

On a broader look, there have been many people who have moved for a seachange or treechange who have found that medical facilities generally in the new area not what they expected. Our dear friend moved to a coastal town and unfortunately got a serious illness. There were no local doctors available as all of them had closed their books and the nearest medical facilities were an hour away. As we all age, we seem to need medical help more than we used to so, whilst trying to remain positive, if you are concerned about health issues maybe staying where you are could be the answer. If not, go for it and enjoy what time is left. Remember a lot of us are on the downhill run with certainly more years behind us than ahead of us.

Thanks, Horace. Disappointed to hear the locals are not too welcoming. I should have realised this as a few months ago I e mailed a writing group I would like to join in Port Stephens and all I got was a terse reply stating the day and place they meet. I did think the reply was rather unwelcoming. There was no "we would love to meet you" or anything remotely encouraging. However, I am not shy and would still go along. I guess there's the risk you may not fit in wherever you join a group?

We will cetainly look into the idea of an onsite van..never thought of that! Our children, unlike yours, by the sound of it, love Nelson bay and holiday there often with their own children. I think this is why they are so keen for us to move accommodation! My daughter was looking at houses for us and found us one with 7 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms! Just so they could have their own set of rooms and not have to bring things every time they visited! Ah, no, 7 bedrooms is not downsizing. I had to disappoint her on that one.


Port Stephens is not too far from Newcastle which has great medical services. A gem that not many think about is Stockton (about 5 minutes from Newcastle by ferry).. So close to Newcastle medical services and on the coast + small community and a close drive to your favoured area on the coast at Port Stephens. Why not consider alternatives other than Sydney and Port Stephens?

As we age we must consider our future needs. As a retired full aged pensioner in a second marriage, I would be unable to afford a house in the Capitol city where we live, if my wife were to die and My share (50%). I have done some research into areas where there are good hospitals, airport and rail neRby, good shopping and facilities, and a public transportsyystem. The two places that stood out were Port Macquarie, and Caloundra area.




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