Village Voice

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sun-seeking retirees flocking to the Bay of Plenty and East Coast


Sun, affordability and pace of life are luring retirees to the North Island’s East Coast.

Seduced by the weather and quieter lifestyle retirees aged 75 and over are flocking to Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne to take up residence in the growing number of retirement villages.

For Village Guide this comes as no surprise. When we launched our website back in 2015, Tauranga was already a popular destination for 75-year-olds. Both in terms of the number of retirement villages listed as well as people searching for properties in the area. The February 2017 New Zealand Retirement Village Database (NZRVD) prepared by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) backs this up. It shows that at 17.4%, the Bay of Plenty has the highest proportion of people 75-years-old and over choosing to live in villages.

A closer look at the data reveals that when you take Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch out of the equation, the penetration rate for people in this age group residing in villages is 11.1%. However, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay are averaging 15.7%.

So what’s the attraction? According to Angela Webster, an economist and research consultant who produced the NZRVD, weather quality and proximity to the coast are key factors.

We spoke with some village managers in these areas to get their thoughts.

According to Sandy Quigley, Village Manager of Ocean Shores it’s, “location, location, location.”

Ocean Shores is located in Mount Maunganui and operated by Arena Living. When Sandy says location, she really means Tauranga’s weather and lifestyle – Ocean Shores’ residents are only a few minutes from the beach – both are major selling points for their residents. In some cases, where residents have come from Auckland, it’s also a cheaper option. Ocean Shores’ residents tend to be a mix of locals and people from outside the region.

“Many of those who are local, moved into the area from somewhere else, lived locally for a couple of years and then moved into the village,” says Sandy.

Bruce Fleming agrees with Angela Webster’s assessment. The Sales Manager for Pacific Coast Village, which is also located in Mount Maunganui says the area’s climate make it a top lifestyle destination.

“The Bay of Plenty has become a popular option for retirees looking for a relaxed, coastal lifestyle. It’s also an easy 35-minute flight or relaxing morning’s drive to Auckland which makes it convenient for retirees who travel often,” he says.

The Hawkes Bay is another region with higher than average retirement village penetration rates. The weather plays a key role in bringing people to this region too, says Jeanette Moynihan.

“It’s lovely and sunny here in the Bay.”

Jeanette is Manager of Atawhai Village, which is located in Napier and operated by Oceania Healthcare. A trend of people moving back home after some time away is one she’s also noticed.

“Some of our residents have grown up here but moved to different places for work. Now they’ve retired they want to shift back,” says Jeannette.

When you move to these parts of New Zealand you’re also guaranteed a slower pace of life. Who wants to deal with traffic jams, road rage, street noise and crowded footpaths when you’re in the your late 70s or older?

“I often hear that the larger cities are getting too busy and crowded and people want to move away from that. The slower pace means residents are more comfortable driving and getting around,” says Jeanette.

But the beauty of Tauranga, Napier and Gisborne is that while life is slower, things aren’t at a standstill. What these cities have in common – apart from good weather and cheaper retirement villages – is they’re big enough. They provide what larger cities offer – cinemas, shopping centres and other amenities – but with more open spaces and less people.

For Doreen Crook, it’s this combination and a greater sense of community that compelled her to move into Atawhai.

“You have the best of both worlds – you’re not too far from Auckland and Wellington – it’s quite central. People don’t push themselves on you, but they’re still concerned about you. When you’re semi-rural I think it’s instinct that everyone helps everyone,” she says.

Sun. Affordability. Pace of life. Proximity. It’s easy to see why the North Island’s East Coast is such attractive retirement village option.

 

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