How to find a true sense of community in retirement

For Irene, it’s just another morning: wake up early, exercise a little on the bike in the gym, followed by

For Irene, it’s just another morning: wake up early, exercise a little on the bike in the gym, followed by aqua fitness in the indoor heated pool and then relaxing in the spa.

Now it’s 9am, and new and exciting plans are already underway:
“After a cappuccino in the coffee lounge at the clubhouse, I was walking home and stopped and chatted to some residents across the road from my house. They were doing some additions to their rear courtyard so we decided to hold a working bee and help them out”.

There’s something truly special about finding a place with real community spirit; where every person adds something valued and unique.

For Irene and her husband, The Cove Village in Fullerton Cove near Newcastle was just that place, and her retirement has proven far busier and livelier than they ever expected.

“It’s different from the rest,” says Irene. “You own your own house and land, and you’ve got really great neighbours”.

“After we moved in, we’ve had friends move in, more friends move in… so it’s a fabulous growing community, which is great.”


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It’s also made for an incredibly varied and lively retirement. “We haven’t got time to work!”

“It’s peaceful, and quiet, but you can do a lot… If you go for a walk in the morning between 6-9, you’ll probably run into 20 or 30 people walking their dogs and have a chat.

For those who crave an active lifestyle there’s an absolute abundance of options.

“They have Zumba classes, Tai Chi, tennis, bowls, Heartmoves Aerobics… our aqua fitness classes have become so popular, they are on several days a week now.”


For those who prefer a mental workout: Mah-jong and bridge and a regular book club meets are among the most popular sessions at the local Clubhouse.

“There’s a garden club, craft mornings, trivia nights… You can do as much or as little you want. And every Friday night, if you want to, you can take whatever you want to eat, and go up to the Clubhouse for happy hour. Some nights there will be 30 people there; other nights there will be 100.

On top of this, the local social club goes above and beyond in organising regular events, such as Christmas in July, dance nights, day trips to the vineyards, whale watching, Melbourne Cup festivities and regular Ladies’ Lunches.

“We keep the busses going – I think there’s 93 of us going to Chinese New Year at the local bowls club.”

Now a newly-established “Men’s Shed” has proved a labour of love for many residents in the community. “We’ve got a few single ladies in here,” says Irene, “and it was costing them a fortune to get lightbulbs changed!”

“If you want anything done, you go down on Thursday, make a little donation, and they’ll help around the home”.

Now the Men’s Shed members are going even further and helping the broader community. They’re volunteering as painters at the local school and are working on a water ways project at The Cove.

“Everyone’s busy. If you stop you die. Gotta move, move, move it or lose it!”

There are now communities within communities. “Our particular street – there’s only eight of us – we hold a get-together every month, just to catch up, since everybody’s busy. It just takes the pressure off – you don’t need to have people in and out of you house all the time.”

While the community is growing, it’s never at the expense of the beautiful location. “When you look out the window you see some wonderful green space. It’s not just house after house after house.

“I think the people who have bought in here are very likeminded. The person who does all the tiling in here, his mother lives in here. The guy doing the lovely conservatories – he’s looking at coming here down the track!”

“Most people in here have interests outside as well. I don’t think it’s good to be really insular. But we have a lady behind us who recently lost her husband. Everybody rallied around her; I don’t think she cooked for a month.”

“Everyone helped. And I think that’s one of the reasons we came in here.


“As we get older, we have support. We’re close to facilities and it’s wheelchair friendly, so I can stay here for much, much, much longer than if I were just in a house in suburbia.

“It’s like everywhere. You have different types of people who have different types of needs. And I really think here fits everybody. There’s something for everybody here. They can enjoy their home during the day or they can go to everything that’s on at the Clubhouse.

“And that’s about my life!”

Is this the type of life you would like to have? Click here to learn more about The Cove Village, or simply fill out this form to get your free brochure.



  1. Sense of community in my opinion doesn’t have to mean that you engage in activities on a regular basis (sometimes daily) with other homeowners within the complex. I live in an over 50 resort, and I see residents who “live in each others pockets”….who never venture outside the village gates because “everything they could want is inside”, and who, in my opinion, have become institutionalised. For me, a sense of community means that we perhaps “know” our neighbours and can call on them if needed (or be there for them if needed) and occasionally come together for activities. I’ve seen so many incidents of conflict and bad feeling from being TOO involved with people (en masse) who live close by. There have been home owners sell up and leave because of bad feeling generated through being TOO involved. Balance….

  2. As for people being truly valued (to quote the post), I doubt that’ll happen in any community. Some people value other people whom they like, but as for overall valuing, I’ve yet to see it anywhere, from city to country (I’ve lived in small towns) to retirement resorts…..

  3. It is not a community without a demographic mix of all age groups, income levels and backgrounds.

    • Perhaps, Wally, but it is a community with some common interests and in any broad collection of people there will always be self selecting communities which interact with other interest groups. For example, in general, the school mums and dads don’t interact with older people except where it intersects with their interests as relatives and grandparents.

    • I agree Wally. I live in a small town in regional NSW and one of the things I love is the fact that we have got to know people of all ages and backgrounds. I am in my sixties so maybe in 15 years or so I may feel differently.

    • Exactly! Who wants to live exclusively with old folks? All those aching bone and doctor stories wear thin pretty quickly.

  4. Lorraine Moyes, I also live in an over 50’s resort and it is definitely nothing like you just described. WE DO NOT LIVE IN EACH OTHERS POCKETS, however we all have interests beyond our gates, I have been here 6 years and in that time I have only witnessed 1 or 2 disagreements. We all respect each other and choose carefully the activities we want to be involved in, and the only people who have sold up here has been because they have needed aged care or have passed away. I feel sorry that you didn’t choose wisely where you moved, because you sound so unhappy.

    • I too enjoy the activities here in our over 55 village , dances ,swimming ,Bridge etc but very much I touch with other friends, who life elsewhere
      I think I’ve got a great social life ,best move I could have made . We value our privacy ,can join in or not it’s up to the individual YOLO. Be happy you only live once 😎😎😎🎼🎼⛱⛱ pine needles resort

  5. I actually have my name down at The Cove did it a few weeks ago, I am excited. It is the only 55 and over place that I have found that you actually own, you own the house and land and there NO exit fees thank goodness.

  6. Thanks for the post. Great to have a discussion of housing choices and the different things older people value. Sadly increasingly older people’s housing choices are limited by affordability, accessibility and level of care and support required. The private sector in Australia has identified residential aged care as a growing market to invest and generate income. Sadly from my experience planning and design of those facilities leaves a lot to be desired and are often driven by economic of scale and financial returns rather than the need of residents. Love to hear from people about their experiences in residential aged care and what they value, what they are missing and what they like to see for themselves once they require residential aged care.

  7. The last thing I want is to spend my last years in the company of old folks. I want around me the whole range of humanity, until my last breath. Old people are reassuring, stable, and have some great stories to tell, but their conversations tend to fall too often into the personal infirmities and ailments category. Young people are bright, engaging, enthusiastic about life, in the middle of achieving, striving. Children are so fresh, so full of life. Why would you want to live away from all that?

  8. We have been looking at villages for years and haven’t found any like the cove where you own house and land. Not a rip off with exit fees.

  9. I’d just like to point out that, in NSW anyway, it’s illegal to discriminate on age grounds unless you are a registered retirement village.

  10. Pat zammit  

    I would be interested to hear if there are any like this in WA, my husband won,t buy in our local retirement village because you never own the land

    • Gail O'Hara  

      I live in a “lifestyle resort” in W.A. for over 45’s. We don’t own the land, just the house. We do pay rent for our facilities, which are almost fnished, and if you’re on a pension you get a portion of your rent back from Centrelink. We have all the facilities the writer has and it’s fanastic. I have gone along to the activities on offer (which there are many – daily) to see if it’s “my thing” then either continue or try something else. I do have friends outside the resort so I have the best of everything – best move I could have made and I love it.

  11. Rob smith  

    You forgot to mention the MOZZIES …there’s millions of them ..just make sure your inside before sundown. How do I know ?
    My mum lived up there and it was a run for your life between the car and the house after sundown.

  12. Pingback: The housing needs of Baby Boomers you should know about - Starts at 60 - Raw Boomers

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