Long time readers probably know that we have always been undecided about exactly where we would retire.
For quite some time, we have been tossing up between retiring to Newcastle and Canberra. And finally, we’ve made a decision!
But before I reveal the location (if you must know now, you can skip straight to the bottom) we chose, I’ll give a rundown on why we wanted to live in these two wonderful places.
The best beaches in Australia.
End. of. discussion…
Not really, but this is a massive draw card. Poopsie loves, loves, loves the beach. He loves spending time anywhere near a beach, even if he isn’t actually in the water. The ocean is calming to him and he’s at his most happiest when he can be around it regularly.
The biggest drawcard for me is friends and family. My older brother currently lives in Sydney but he and his wife have already bought their house in Newcastle, which they plan to move into by the time my nephew starts school (he’s currently one). Being able to live so close to my brother and my nephew (plus future nieces and nephews) is an enormous drawcard to me. While I have two other siblings, neither of them know where they will end up living, so it’s hard to make plans based on that. My brother does know and he has chosen a city that we both love.
We also have a lot of friends in Newcastle. My best friend lives there and intends to remain there into her own retirement. Poopsie’s best friend also lives just outside of Newcastle. We have a large number of other friends living there and love spending time with them anytime we are in Newcastle.
Newcastle is pretty small, but it has everything we need and want. We will have access to almost all major retailers we use on a regular basis (Nespresso being the only exception, but we can easily order those online). We’ll have access to a great library, regular visits from the Sydney Symphony and a decent theatre scene, both professional and amateur. We’ll have the beach, but also great national parks nearby that we can bushwalk and camp in. It has everything we want.
I should caveat this by saying that Poopsie has never actually lived in Canberra. I lived there for the first year of our relationship and he lived in Newcastle. He visited me every weekend that I wasn’t working except for three, making the long five-hour drive every Friday afternoon, and then again on Sunday night (he must have loved me or something). While he certainly got a good feel for Canberra, visiting is different to actually living there.
I went to university in Canberra, and then spent a year there for work in 2015. After living there for four years in total, it’s a place I know very well and a place I love.
I love politics. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Management and a Master of Arts in Strategy and Public Policy. Neither of these two degrees really pertain to my day job. The main reason I studied them was because of my strong interest in politics and public policy. So for me, Canberra is awesome. I have all the access I want to Parliament House, as well as a wide range of lectures, conferences and events where politicians and lead academics present.
Canberra is full of culture. It’s Australia’s capital city and thus, has all of our national museums, galleries, theatres, memorials and archives. It has also really developed into a bit of a foodie heaven. The restaurant scene is excellent.
Canberra is also very close to the snow fields. Poopsie and I have never actually been to the snow together! Poopsie loves to snowboard and spent a lot of time on the slopes when he lived in Denver, Colorado for three years. While I haven’t been a lot, I do enjoy skiing and we can definitely see ourselves visiting the snow in retirement.
Poopsie and I have ummed and ahhed about this decision for at least eighteen months now. We love both places and could definitely see ourselves being happy in both.
We have spent a reasonable amount of time stressing about this decision.
What if we made the wrong decision?!? What if we’re miserable?
However, as they’re usually want to do, Our Next Life talked us off the ledge in their recent post about the suboptimal. This helped us to realise that there was no perfect solution, nor did there have to be.
What would we do if we made the wrong decision?
We’d move. Simple.
One of the beauties of early retirement, to us, is the flexibility that comes with it. If we don’t like where we’re living, we won’t be tied to a job and can move elsewhere. Realising this (which may seem obvious to others but was not to us), relieved us enormously and allowed us to make a decision. In fact, we only made it this morning! No small feat considering Poopsie is currently in Sydney for work and most of our communication during the work day is via email.
Our Retirement Location
So where are we retiring to?
We are beyond thrilled- mainly to have finally made a decision but also because we really do love Newcastle so much. For day to day, it’s where we want to be.
We’ll certainly continue to visit Canberra, probably at least once a year. But we will live in Newcastle, surrounded by some family and some excellent friends. We can’t wait!
So what next? Well, we’re moving to Sydney for at least three years. After that, we will take one more transfer with our jobs and then, three years after that, we plan to retire. Following our time in Sydney, we will have both Newcastle and Canberra as options to move to. We’re unsure if we’ll go straight to Newcastle or if we will take the opportunity to live in Canberra for a few years. That decision will come.
In the meantime, it’s back to house hunting. We’re not quite ready to buy our retirement home, but we’re certainly ready to start looking. We will only be a couple of hours drive from Newcastle next year, which gives us a good opportunity to head up there on a weekend and inspect a few homes. Hopefully by the end of next year, we’ll be about ready to pounce.
Have you picked your retirement location? Did you agonise over it as long as we did? We’d love to hear!
Hooray! Just making a decision must be such a relief. And you are right – no one is going to beat you over the head if you end up changing your minds (I think that’s the freedom part of financial freedom)
Based on your description of family and friends, I would have picked Newcastle for you, even though I love Canberra. Also – beaches in Canberra? Naaah. You’d find Poopsie travelling 5 hours every weekend to visit the beach.
Thank you for saying that you would have picked Newcastle for us as well. It’s nice to get some backup validation that we made the right choice.
Sure, we might change our minds, but I doubt it. We have already decided we will probably try and go to Floriade every year, so we can get our Canberra fix in then. But it’s just once a year, as opposed to every few weeks travelling for the beach as you pointed out.
Not sure if this was self-projected but I always felt you would choose Newcastle. You seem to write about it with more passion and while culture and arts are an important part of your life, family and friends seemed to be higher up the list.
I’m glad you’ve made a decision and are happy to go ahead and plan as is for now. As you say, you could always change your mind later, go on holidays more, or even buy an investment down in Canberra if you really wanted to. There are always options.
That’s very interesting you say that, Miss Balance. I didn’t realise we wrote about Newcastle differently, but it makes sense.
You’re right, there are always options. And we will really enjoy visiting Canberra, and if we start to feel drawn there, we can always change it up. But, my nephew being in Newcastle will be a hard thing to walk away from. He’s just so stinking cute!
Cool! This is so relevant for my own life, as I currently live in Sydney, but my husband and I often talk about moving to either Newcastle or Canberra. He’s a Kiwi and I’m originally a Canberran, and Sydney has never really felt like home for us, despite having lots of friends here now. It has some great things going for it, but I think we both dream of a slower pace of life. We own a restaurant here, though, which means we can’t just up and leave in a hurry.
We also have a 3-year-old son and a baby on the way, and I would really like to have made a decision about whether we move or stay by the time our son starts school so as not to have to disrupt him. On the one hand we have lots of friends and my parents living in Canberra, and I love how there’s so much nature and culture everywhere. However, my husband grew up at the beach, and he says he would miss not having access to it. That’s why Newcastle seems like a potential option, although we don’t know anyone there. The housing is way more affordable than Sydney, though.
Anyway, sorry for the rant! I’m just excited to see you were tossing up between the same options as us. 🙂
Jane, that’s so funny that we were both tossing up the same two places. Ultimately, the decision is a very individual one and I’m sure you’ll be very happy with whichever one you choose. But, if it’s any consolation, you will know people in Newcastle. Us!