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01 February 2024

Find the Perfect Place to Downsize Between the Countryside and the Coast

The beauty of its setting on NSW’s east coast has earned Port Stephens the nickname “the blue water paradise.” With its natural attractions and enviably elegant lifestyle, the area has become a magnet for downsizers looking for a more relaxed and connected way of life. At just two and a half hours drive from Sydney, and half an hour from Newcastle, Port Stephens offers the perfect blend of holiday-like serenity and convenient access to urban centres.

Sunrise by Hometown Australia Communities offers boutique independent living for over 50’s that perfectly complements Port Stephen’s culture and community. Residents can be active and adventurous, or slow down and relax with Sunrise’s low-maintenance lifestyle. Given its impressive choice of stylish homes and first-class facilities, investing in Sunrise is surprisingly affordable.

Read on to learn more about Port Stephens and Sunrise, and to hear why residents Graham and Suzanne are so happy to have made it their home.

Bays, Beaches and Natural Beauty

A large part of Port Stephens’ charm is its collection of towns, bays and beaches. Larger neighbourhoods like Nelson Bay and Raymond Terrace are connected by a series of smaller bayside villages, each of which has its own ambience and appeal. Among them are Shoal Bay, Lemontree Passage, Tanilba Bay, Salamander Bay and Corlette.

Foodies are spoiled for choice with a huge selection of cafes, clubs and restaurants. You’ll find buzzy fish-and-chip joints alongside chic country clubs complete with elegant, old-world decor. Water views are a specialty, as is the amazing local seafood, and there’s arguably no better place to experience it than Bannisters, Port Stephens – home to superstar chef Rick Stein’s iconic eatery. You can also enjoy a tipple at a range of local wineries and boutique breweries.

For active retirees, there are lots of local points of interest and some unique experiences to be had – tee off on the championship courses at Horizon Bay or Nelson Bay Golf Clubs, hike or cycle the coastal or hinterland trails, or indulge in a spot of rock or ocean fishing.

Graham and Suzanne’s Downsizing Journey

After raising four children and selling their business of many years, Graham and Suzanne decided to make a move north for their retirement years from their large family home in Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley.

They debated whether to move to the mountains or to the sea, and eventually decided on Port Stephens and Sunrise as their top choices. “We always thought that when we came to retirement age and selling our business we would move,” Graham says. “We wanted to live somewhere with a holiday feel, have different shopping centres to choose from and be closer to transport. We’ve got the convenience of an airport near us here at Williamtown (Newcastle).”

“There’s plenty of on-water activities,” Graham adds. “You can go whale watching or take a ferry trip up to Tea Gardens. There’s also lots of good restaurants around Port Stephens and great shopping centres at Salamander Bay, (10 minutes away) and Nelson Bay (about 15 or 20 minutes away). There’s excellent medical and dental services as well.”

While the couple have formally retired, Graham points out that some Sunrise residents are still working full or part time. In fact, “If I’d had known about the sort of lifestyle that you could have in a place like this while I was still working, I would have bought into it,” he says.

Community is Key

The couple have been in their two bedroom home with study for three years now and when asked what the best thing about living at Sunrise is, Graham answers enthusiastically. “It’s the community, 110%!”


Graham takes pride in his role as Chairperson of the Residents Committee, which represents the residents on both internal issues and external ones, like local developments that might have an impact on the community.


“The fact that there’s so much to do here makes the fabric of the community so strong,” Graham says. “We’ve got an extremely active social club that organises lots of events and entertainment every month. There’s a Men’s Shed (which, incidentally, ladies are welcome to attend!) and a band and singing group.”


Graham adds that getting behind charities and common causes is another thing that really helps bring people together. “Most of the residents have an interest in our charities,” he says, “And we recently had a big event with music on the green to raise money for the charities we support, and we managed to raise $1,500.”

Along with the community-based activities are a whole host of casual social initiatives organised by residents themselves. “There’s a group of ladies that run their own exercise class in in the main community centre. Suzanne goes to that and really enjoys it. There are other groups that play pickleball and tennis,” Graham says.

“We have an ANZAC Day service every year and a big Melbourne Cup Day celebration. Any excuse to have a celebration, really! We’ve got an indoor heated pool, an outdoor pool and a fully equipped gymnasium. I could go on and on,” he continues.

“We have to keep a diary these days, not because we work anymore, but because there’s so much to do socially. If we don’t diarise what each of us is doing, we lose track of where we’re supposed to be!”

A Booming Bowls Scene

“Our lawn bowls community is very active at Sunrise,” Graham explains, “And Hometown Australia runs a State of Origin bowls competition every year, which culminates in a final Queensland versus New South Wales.”

Last year the popular event was held at Sunrise in front of more than 100 spectators, who gathered to cheer on the men’s, women’s and mixed pairs battling it out on the green.

A keen bowler himself, Graham explains there are a variety of ways to get involved. “I haven’t bowled in the State of Origin but I’ve just recently competed in a local Hometown, Port Stephens villages competition. We compete against three other villages that are close by and we have a big day of bowls, with lots of great community competition.”

Support and Security

“Another great thing about this community is the security of having supportive neighbours around you,” Graham emphasises.

“You get to know everybody. We had an example recently, where somebody hadn’t been seen around for a couple of days, and we went to knock on their door, and they were quite ill. And when people can’t drive themselves to a medical appointment for one reason or another, there’s always a neighbour available that can do it.”

“And it’s not only physical but mental support as well,” he adds. “You’ve always got a neighbour you can have a chat to. You can be as close as you want to be, and as involved as you want to be. The peace of mind that goes along with having people handy, and that you can rely on to help you out, is really wonderful.”

Enjoy the Benefits of Land Lease Living at Sunrise

Land lease living has become popular with a wider range of residents in recent years. Big-city house prices, a desire for “sea and tree changes”, and the ability to work remotely are all big drawcards. And resort-like facilities in communities like Sunrise are also a big part of the appeal – they help to create the close-knit communities that land lease living is known for.

In land lease communities, residents buy a dwelling and rent the land under a long-term lease. The housing model comes with clear financial benefits as there’s no stamp duty, council rates, strata levies or deferred management fees. Owners keep 100% of capital gains on sale and you may also be eligible to claim Commonwealth rental assistance.

Homes at Sunrise are stylish and  set back from the street, creating a sense of space and offer the flexibility of having one or more bedrooms which can be used for guests or as a study or home office. You can customise your home with a choice of facades, colours and finishes, and choose from designs that have single or double garages. Sunrise is a pet friendly community and offers caravan and boat storage

If you’re ready to find your dream home in Port Stephens, get in touch to learn more or arrange an inspection.


This article has been written in partnership with Downsizing.com.au. 

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