Continuing in our Retirement overseas series, Australian Expats Share The Reasons Why They Moved Overseas for a more happy retirement.
A new report from the editors at International Living explores why more and more Aussie expats are leaving their homeland behind for a fresh start overseas.
How to have a Happy Retirement Abroad
No longer a radical idea, Aussie natives are finding a move overseas is actually a smart move for a happy retirement. The lower price tags can reward expats in many ways—provide greater freedom and adventure, relieve financial strain and allow for lifestyle upgrades.
These expats reveal why they left home and what they found in their new lives overseas. Read on for some inspiring retirement quotes and wisdom, and ideas for a happy retirement lifestyle …
Senior Gap Year Brings Travel Joy
Life overseas can bring wonderful joy—and in fact, in the right spots it can be cheaper than staying home, as Jane Dempster-Smith and her husband, Duncan from To Travel To found out.
After a three-week holiday, the couple decided to take a senior gap year. However, that senior gap year has been extended—they haven’t stopped travelling since.
After working on a 12-month, round-the-world itinerary, they set themselves abudget of $165 a day. Later, they discovered they travel the world for much less.
“Excited by the possibilities that lay before us, we set about doing our sums,” Jane says.
“We soon worked out that we could travel the world for less than day-to-day life was costing us in Sydney. With the numbers stacking up, there was nothing stopping us.
“We left Sydney in February 2013 with 16 flight sectors planned throughout South America, USA, Europe and Asia,” Jane says.
“By the time we landed back in Sydney we were thrilled to have stuck to our budget of $165 per day and to have had the time of our lives, of course! The only thing we wanted to change was our budget. We set ourselves a new target of $92 a day—in and around the equivalent of the Australian Aged Pension for a couple.
“We were still a long way off from getting the Pension but if we could travel on that sum for a year, we could actually prove that it was cheaper to jet-set the globe than it was to stay at home on the sofa in Australia…and a whole lot more fun too.
“Ever since, we have kept travelling and kept to our budget and we couldn’t be happier.”
Housesitting for Early Retirement Plan
When Melbourne couple Glenn and Jacqueline Lamb discovered housesitting back in 2015 it was a game changer for their early retirement options.
“I was 54 and Jacqueline was 48,” says Glenn.
“We both enjoyed our jobs and loved our home but we wanted to satisfy our wanderlust while still young enough to enjoy everything the world offers. It was never our plan to work until the official retirement age. Little did we know that housesitting would change our life’s future direction, but it has. And in the three years since discovering this money-saving travel hack, we haven’t looked back. We now live a life of full-time travel and adventure and thanks to housesitting, it costs us less than staying put at home.
“You may find this hard to believe but we spend less in a year living and travelling overseas and having amazing experiences than we did when we lived at home. Our yearly living costs in Melbourne were around $47,300 (without a mortgage). We set a budget for our travels of $4,000 per month however we only spend an average of $2,660 per month (a total of about $32,000).”
Pleasure in Penang
And with such good-value available, many people are seeking an early retirement.
Six years ago, Keith Hockton and his wife, Lisa, decided they were going to live the good life they’d dreamed about for years. Not wanting to have to work until they were 70, they wanted adventure while they were still young and energetic enough to enjoy it. They wanted their retirement to be a reward, not a struggle. Overall they wanted a happy retirement.
He says, “one day my wife said that instead of just putting it off, let’s just do it. So, we did.”
They sold their Sydney home in 2010 and headed for a new life in Penang, Malaysia—a firm favourite among savvy expats for decades. This island, of 1.6 million souls, packs a punch. Here, the lifestyle is comfortable and first world.
The low costs make it affordable even on a more modest budget and exploring further afield in Southeast Asia is easy thanks to the international airport— Penang International Airport is only nine hours from Sydney and Brisbane.
This is how Keith and Lisa can afford to explore, live well, travel freely and enjoy their lives, without money worries.
Keith says, “There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t say to myself how lucky I am. I wish that we had done it years earlier.”
Thailand in her 70s
But it’s never too late to go and live your dream, just like New South Wales native Pam Manning, who, in her 70s, set her sights on Thailand and never looked back.
“When I moved to Chiang Mai, I unearthed the rich and colourful life I thought was lost,” she says of her new life.
“It takes a brave person to move to a country that does not operate on your own native tongue, but I’ve been learning the language and I think it is wonderful brain training.”
Fortunately, there is a very active and large expat community in Chiang Mai to support newcomers and they host regular meetings, breakfasts and lunches.
Pam certainly has a respect for her Thai community and they for her in turn.
Pam says, “This is a great country to ‘age’ in.
“I live in splendour in the place I needed to find. Chiang Mai is a unique and lovely place nestled in the luscious jungle in the north. I found my paradise.
Chiang Mai is just one of many paradise boltholes Aussies are escaping to around the world for a happy retirement overseas.
The Kingdom of Wonder
Cambodia, known as “The Kingdom of Wonder,” attracts millions of tourists each year along with foreign investors and business professionals lured by the booming economy.
But why exactly are people choosing to retire in Cambodia?
“Because Cambodia makes retirement fun!” declares expat Matthew Stokes, 64, who makes his home in the capital, Phnom Penh.
“First off, I qualify for the retirement visa. As long as you are over 55 and don’t need to work then that’s all there is to it.
“I suppose the second big attraction is the absolute affordability of the country. It doesn’t matter if you want to live in a penthouse in Phnom Penh or a villa by the coast because the cost of living is so much lower. I have a regular monthly income, but it wouldn’t buy me bread and water to last the month in Australia nowadays. But here in Cambodia I can live very nicely indeed. Good grub, great beer and a nice place to call home.
“It’s not a struggle for me now but it was before I came here, it wasn’t pretty at all. This change in my financial situation has brought a real sense of fun back into my life, there’s no more worrying about money all the time. When you start getting old you get anxious about ending up in the poor house but moving to Cambodia means that’s not going to happen.
“The third thing is the excellent dental care by expat professionals and also Cambodian dentists who have degrees and certifications from Europe. They do a great job and the price is so much lower than in Australia. I have had lots of things done in Phnom Penh that I didn’t have the money for in Australia.”
More Retirement Ideas
What retirement ideas do you have? Would you retire overseas? Are you going to protire or retire – read more about Protirement here.
Or do you fancy retiring to where the wine is good?
Read more about The Best Places to Retire Overseas.
More information on retirement overseas havens, and how to have a happy retirement abroad, can be found at International Living.
Have you thought about retiring overseas? Where would you like to go?
I echo Michele’s sentiments in the above comments, and am also ‘intrigued’ by people who move overseas post-retirement. I’m curious about what provides meaning and purpose in their lives. Yes, it’s cheap to live there, but is this enough? As time goes on community and connectedness are becoming even more important to me. If I were living overseas I wouldn’t be able to resist getting involved in something like a women’s social enterprise, or teaching English in a school. I’d be most interested to hear stories of people who are making a contribution to the local community in these ways.
Hi Jo, and thank you for your thoughtful comments. When I was younger I always had ideas about retirement and where that might be. Often envisaging somewhere tropical and exotic. I think as we get older though that changes, and as you say, community, connectedness and also where our children live become a cocktail of things which become important – more important than an exotic location which is a cheap place to live. It would be great to feature people who’ve retired overseas who are making a contribution to the local community – yes! Anyone out there? Please send me an email 🙂
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au
When I read posts like this Jo I have a little kernel of envy for the life these people lead. The thing is that I don’t think I have the courage or the final impetus to make a life changing decision as big as moving permanently overseas. If I was going to go, I’d probably buy a villa in Bali – cheap living, cheap travel, and still relatively close to home. I’m too much of a homebody to ever leave here though, so I’ll just live the dream through other people’s stories!
Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂
Hi Leanne, if you buy a villa in Bali maybe we could share it! Lol! I often think I’d like to live a swallow life, a few months in Bali each year but then home to kids and Aussie creature comforts. Thanks you for sharing 🙂
Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
Hi Jo isn’t it wonderful that retirement doesn’t mean sitting in a chair and giving up? Whilst we aren’t in a position to retire overseas I do the next best thing and travel. If I had the opportunity though Florence in Italy would be my choice. We took an apartment there and it was wonderful living like the locals. Great to have you join us at #MLSTL and proving that life doesn’t stop with retirement but opens new opportunities!
Hi Sue, yes it’s so true. The idea of retirement in our parents’ days was so different to now. We are lucky to have the chance to travel far and wide.
I love these stories and am intrigued by the idea of living abroad. I would likely not want to settle in on e place, but perhaps spend a couple of months in a place. I can’t see giving up our home just yet, but who knows? I find it fascinating that some can live aborad for less than they were spending at home!
Hi Michele, yes I think I’d like to be a swallow too!
Hi Jo, thanks for the inspiration! I am always amazed and in awe of people who choose to travel the globe or move to a different country to retire. These examples show that it really can be done, and not just for the most affluential of us. #MLSTL
Hello Candi, yes it’s always good to have inspiration from people who’ve actually made moves like this.
What an inspirational post. I am always intrigued by people who ‘toss it all’ and find contentment living an alternate lifestyle.I certainly understand the appeal. Visiting from #mlstl
Thanks Suzanne, yes it is very appealing. We’ve done it a few times before retirement but following work rather than stopping work. There is a great sense of freedom, but often contentment takes a while to find. I loved the inspiration and real stories from people for this post.
It’s interesting to read about how people do really extended holidaying and living overseas. I must say, I can’t imagine settling overseas away from family (kids and grandkids mainly), but if the shoe fits …
I agree, and also think that to live far away from my kids would be difficult Christine. I do think that perhaps three months living away somewhere exotic where they might like to visit would suit me down to the ground! Lol!
I’m loving this series. I think it feeds the fantasy in me… #MLSTL
So glad you’re enjoying it Jo. I think lots of us coming up to retirement age fantasise about a fairytale place to retire to – which is less expensive too!