Originally published on couriermail.com.au and reproduced here with permission.
When Kiyo Tucs made the leap to move from South Australia to Queensland for her retirement, she was part of a population shift heading north.
Mrs Tucs, 74, had been looking around for a few years to both downsize and be closer to family who lived in the Sunshine State.
An out-of-the-blue email alerted her to the option of retirement living by the water in Redcliffe, north of Brisbane, and she jumped at the chance.
“I’m so happy to be here,” she said. “I have no regrets whatsoever. There were a lot of questions from my friends, ‘Are you really sure Kiyo?’ And it has been so good.”
Mrs Tucs is among a wave of recent migrants to Queensland, a phenomenon that has grown since the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest figures from ABS show Queensland was the only eastern seaboard state to gain population throughout 2019 and 2020.
There were more than 30,000 net arrivals into Queensland from other parts of Australia in 2020, a jump of more than 7000 people on the previous year. This was from total arrivals of more than 100,000.
Throughout the pandemic from March 2020 to March 2021, Queensland recorded the highest population growth rate, at 0.9 per cent.
While many of the new Queenslanders were in their 30s and 40s, more than 2000 people aged over 70 moved to Queensland than left between 2019 and 2020. More recent figures are yet to be released, but anecdotal evidence shows the trend is growing, with thousands of people moving north.
Some are hoping it will echo the mass migration north in the 1990s, when one in three people moving interstate in Australia headed to Queensland. This had accelerated throughout the 1980s to about 34,300 extra people each year late in the decade.
At its peak, more than 49,000 additional people moved to Queensland each year in the early 1990s, driving strong economic and infrastructure development across the southeast corner.
Mrs Tucs said she enjoyed living in Queensland, where her neighbouring residents were friendly and relaxed. She said while most of the other residents in her village were from nearby areas of southeast Queensland, she had found it easy to settle in.
“Everyone has been very welcoming,” she said. “They are nice.”
Mrs Tucs said the seaside location of her retirement community, Azure Blue Redcliffe, about 40 minutes north of Brisbane, reminded her of her birth home of Nagasaki in Japan.
She moved away from Japan when she married her Australian husband in 1971. “When I came here [to Australia], it was an adventure,” she said. “I didn’t know anything about it. When I married my husband, it was a life of adventure. I trusted his love and I trusted him.”
A decade after he passed away, she thought it was time to make another move. A big factor in the decision was to be closer to her son, who lives about 45 minutes’ drive away in Brisbane’s southeast. Likewise, the warmer Queensland weather was also a motivator.
Mrs Tucs said she is happy to have more time to enjoy the local region, with home maintenance and grounds maintenance taken care of within the village, something that was becoming more challenging at her previous Adelaide home.
“We had a fairly large property [in South Australia]. At 72, I was doing all the gardening. I thought I would have to do something about it.”
University of Queensland demographer and senior lecturer, Dr Elin Charles-Edwards, said Queensland had the highest rate of internal migration in the pandemic years.
“Queensland has certainly gained as a net gain, but a lot of it is due to people staying put,” she said.
She explained Queensland’s climate, and geographic features like the beaches and hinterland was a lifestyle drawcard, that reflected other regions around the world people move to as they retire.
“In some places around the world there is a ‘retirement hump’ when people move. You will see it in some locations, mainly for lifestyle factors.
“For older people, you might have different motivations and different places to move to. It might be lifestyle reasons, or it might be being closer to family,” Dr Charles-Edwards said.
Mrs Tucs explained she is pleased to have made the move, despite the initial reservations from her friends about the big change.
“I recommend it,” she said. “I can say 100 per cent that I am happy. I chose the right place.”
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