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.
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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?