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Canberra life just capital for Belconnen couple Jenny and Geoff Williams

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It's a familiar stereotype: the retirees saying goodbye to Canberra just as soon as they leave the workforce. But Jenny and Geoff Williams never gave leaving a moment's thought.

The Belconnen couple reflect a growing demographic change around the capital, one of the factors powering the city's population towards 400,000: retirees who are choosing to stay put.

Like many in this emerging breed of Canberra retirees, family, lifestyle and social considerations all played a role in the Williams' decision to stay.

But apart from anything else, they like it here.

The ACT Government says that as the city matures, residents are statistically more likely to be attracted to staying because of family ties in the area.

The Williams, who raised their son and daughter here, are no different.


"I'm an only child and my parents decided to come up from Melbourne to live in Canberra. Both our children are living in Canberra, so there was no real reason to move anywhere else," Mrs WIlliams said.

"We've got a daughter with two children here, and a son with two children here, and the majority of our friends are all the same."

The family also demonstrates another emerging social trend: young people are less likely to move away from Canberra in search of career opportunities, reinforcing the likelihood of families to cluster in the Canberra area.

Mrs Williams said she had noticed similar patterns among her friends' families and around town more generally.

"The kids have all decided to stay here, because there are jobs," she said.

"We had to go to the hospital a couple of months ago. They're training doctors here now, and the young fellow who was looking after my husband told us that the majority of doctors would stay in Canberra. I thought that was interesting too."

Mr Williams left the public service about 10 years ago, and Mrs Williams called it quits from her private sector jobs about a year ago but keeps busy with the gym, golf and the University of the Third Age, and does not have to travel far to see the grandchildren.

She says that the majority of her friends have children in Canberra, but some have children in Sydney and Melbourne, and that Canberra is sort of a centrepoint for them.

With the recent arrival of big-name retailers like Ikea and the introduction of direct international flights, Canberra just keeps getting more attractive, Mrs Williams says.

But there's just one small problem, and its cultural.

"We get a lot of the blockbusters at the National Gallery, but for theatre you've still got to go to Sydney or Melbourne because they don't bring the big shows to Canberra," she said.

"That would be a real plus if we could increase the theatre size, so we could bring good shows to Canberra."