Retirement Tree Change

Does retirement living in the country take time to adapt to? Not if you’ve considered all the factors carefully. If you’re clear about what you want to achieve with y...
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Retirement Tree Change

The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions. Click here for full Terms of Use.

How can I be sure moving to the country is right for me?

We all worry whether our ‘dream location’ will actually deliver the dream retirement lifestyle we imagined and not everybody is suited to country living. Once you’ve settled on your top likely locations, take the following steps…
  • Plan a long weekend or short sabbatical and spend it in your dream town
  • Visit cafes and local businesses and talk to the locals. This is where you’ll quickly find out what type of people live in your potential new community and whether they’re like-minded
  • Pick up local tourism leaflets and magazines and check out the options
  • Take a walk through shopping centres and decide if they offer what you need
  • Ask locals about the climate, lifestyle and local attitudes
  • Have a real estate agent show you some different types of properties
  • Use Google to check reviews of the area and its services

Does retirement living in the country take time to adapt to?

Not if you’ve considered all the factors carefully. If you’re clear about what you want to achieve with your lifestyle change, you should be able to establish well in advance whether a tree change will unlock the retirement lifestyle change you seek.

  • Your expectations must be realistic. It may take some time for you to fully exploit the benefits of your relocation
  • Living in retirement in itself is a major adjustment. Adding a change of location can invigorate but it also adds challenges
  • It’s important to extend yourself to meet the members of your new community
  • Joining a volunteers group like Rotary can be a great way to make new acquaintances and start building new networks
  • Adapting will take a little time so some patience is necessary
  • You need to be flexible and prepared to make changes in your normal routines. In most cases, this is what you’ll have been seeking anyway so it’s all good news
  • Don’t assume the country is always more quiet than the city

Are there any guidelines for choosing a retirement country property?

Naturally, people seek a wide variety of different types of country property. Depending on your ultimate end goal, consider things like…
  • Zoning – will the local council permit your intended use
  • Size of land – farm, horses, agriculture or simple lifestyle pursuits
  • Taxes applicable based on land size – could land tax be applicable?
  • Neighbours
  • Type and size of house – classic homestead or modern home
  • Water availability and quality – bore water is often available but will it be potable?
  • Fences – want livestock or pets? Fencing is costly so bear that in mind. Rabbit proof fences are necessary to protect vegetable patches and young plantings

How do I choose the most appropriate country location?

Of course, this is the BIG question. Make a list of what’s important. Ask questions like…
  • What’s important? List the things that inspire, motivate and compel your thinking
  • What you want less of in life i.e. crowds, heat/cold, high prices etc.
  • What you’d do more of when you have more time
  • Where would you feel invigorated? Describe the climate.
  • What’s within your financial reach?
  • What services and infrastructure are important? i.e. Internet, health services, seniors clubs, social groups
  • Do you have a car or will you need to use public transport?

Once you’ve written your list, research the alternatives that tick most of your boxes. Picking a local First National agent and just ringing for a chat can be the most informative time you’ll spend. Use our ‘find an office search’ for the nearest member to your area of interest.

What’s the difference between real estate in a regional centre versus property on its outskirts?

Houses in a suburban setting, located within a country town’s built-up area, usually offer similar modern conveniences to those of their city cousins i.e. grid electricity, phone, town water, town gas, garbage collection.

Properties located further out may not offer any of these features. Consider carefully whether a more remote retirement location will suit your longer-term needs.

I don’t want to move to the country and live in a suburban setting. I want serious lifestyle space. What do I need to know?

You’d better be envisaging some serious self-sufficiency.

Properties located outside town centres are less likely to offer modern utilities and the further they are located from telephone exchanges, the slower and less stable your internet connection may be.

Tradesmen and help are further away and you will need to be capable of doing more for yourself. Your probable utilities are listed below in order of most likely to least likely…
  • Telephone services with ADSL internet
  • Electricity
  • Town water
  • Sewerage
  • Garbage collection service
  • Town gas

In many cases, serious lifestyle space means serious work so make sure you have the physical and psychological capacity to meet the demands of land care, property maintenance, commuting to service centres, and being on your own if something goes wrong. For some, this is the perfect choice. For others, isolation and loneliness can be an issue.

Ask a First National agent about the specifics of the locality. They’ll be able to outline the services typically available in key areas so you can make an informed decision.

I’ve found the perfect retirement property but there’s no broadband Internet. Help!

Don’t despair. Your solution may well be a satellite connection.

Sometimes this can offer far faster download speeds than normal connections but typically depend upon copper lines for outgoing data or ‘uploads’. Google ‘satellite broadband’ for a list of potential providers in the area and ask them about your chosen location.

I want a solar powered home in the country. What do I need to know?

Solar powered homes can be just as normal as any other. Grants are available to help offset the cost of installation but batteries and inverters are where the real costs lie. Obviously, most power consumption tends to be in the evenings, when your system isn’t producing power. This is why a home’s power storage capacity is so important.

Battery technology is rapidly improving but replacement tends to be necessary every 10 years or so. If you want to truly be off the grid, you’ll certainly need a back-up generator. This will support you during bad weather events or when technical issues disrupt your power supply.

Solar technicians are far from plentiful in regional areas and demand for their services is significant. You can therefore find that if your system breaks down, you may be without power for lengthy periods while you wait for parts or a technician.

How available are health professionals in the country?

Not all country towns have hospitals or doctors but regional centres almost universally do.

Remote locations will entail longer travel times to health services so plan adequately to ensure your chosen location meets your health needs.

If I retire to the country, what costs should I keep in mind?

Naturally, there are costs associated with buying that country retreat - conveyancing, stamp duty and general costs of purchasing (building & pest inspections etc.).

Country properties sometimes also require investment in private infrastructure that requires ongoing maintenance and repairs. Don’t forget…
  • Council rates
  • Water rates, if the property is connected to a town water supply
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Garden and general maintenance
  • Land tax, if the property is not your principal place of residence
  • Capital gains tax (if the property is not your principal place of residence)
  • Insurance
  • Envirocycle or septic tank maintenance costs
  • Solar PV power generation maintenance costs
  • Back-up generator maintenance and fuel costs
  • Water pumps
  • Fencing
  • Land care
  • Sheds
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