So you’ve enjoyed an exotic break in Bali too? Indulged in the charm and cuisine of Thailand? Wept to the tune of Isa Lei as you reluctantly departed Fiji? And always vowed to go back. Holidays almost universally leave the tourist wanting for more. And sometimes musing what it would be like to up sticks in Oz and live the overseas idyll forever.
Back home, reality sinks in. Could you leave extended family so far away if you were to make the change. Would you be wise to abandon the familiar facets of a lifetime for the challenge of a vastly different culture, foreign customs, almost every everyday aspect of your world swapped for something new.
According to an authoritative new book, Sell Up, Pack Up & Take Off, you can do it.
As the authors say, most older Australians enjoyed freedom in their 20s and 30s, before kids arrived and mortgage, debt and our jobs took on greater importance. But once time moves on, kids mature, the house is paid off and the end of your working life looms, the prospect of freedom, of fewer ties and responsibilities and new opportunities arises. All you need, they suggest, is to be clever and brave enough to change your lifestyle and leverage the benefits of that newfound freedom.
Here, in our local statistical division, one in four of the population is on the full aged pension. In our region, we have the second greatest number of aged pensioners anywhere in Australia. And the financial position of as many as four in 10 at least qualifies them for a part pension. So it’s tempting to recall how far the dollar could stretch in other countries where the cost of living’s significantly lower.
The book and its guidelines, the writers coax, offers the chance of plunging in to that other life, in another place, for a few years – or forever – where your precious savings and income will go a lot further. Do you, they argue, remain in a house that’s too big, scrimp on spending now your money doesn’t go as far as you’d hoped, go to the same club, pub or golf course, watch more TV … and get those lawn edges really sharp? That’s the conventional mindset but there’s no need for it to be that way.
“These days, the old 60 is the new 40. Get positive. Go for it,” they urge.
Stephen Wyatt and Colleen Ryan, married with two adult children, have packed up and taken off overseas to live several times. Not only is their book for retirees, it speaks to those of any age who want the adventure of living in another country. But it’s not just a dream: the practical aspects, the brutal reality, pros and cons of making such a radical change are covered in detail. Ryan particularly is well known and respected, a former editor of the Australian Financial Review. Wyatt was a banker with Merrill Lynch.
Trips to Bali, Thailand, Malaysia, have been the norm for many. Big numbers of us have worked and found partners overseas. Medical tourism has taken off, with Aussies seeking facelifts, dental work or surgery in Singapore and neighbouring Asia. Fly in, fly out WA mine workers base themselves in Bali. Life’s much more global than in past generations. Budget air travel sees us able to afford to be back home in half a day. Technology allows us to live elsewhere, yet stay close to loved ones by Skype, email and via smartphones. So sell or rent the house, get on a plane, take a house on the beach in Cambodia or Vietnam, have a housekeeper, enjoy a G&T at sunset every evening – and invite the family to visit.
Change can be modest, or aggressive. You can dip your toes in the water by living half a year here, half a year there, or take the plunge. Grey nomads go international!
Chapters cover, importantly, property, pension and superannuation implications, as well as legal and tax arrangements, social life, medical arrangements and health insurance, residency and visa conditions, security considerations, plus more. Not only packed with current research and reliable advice, the book explores case studies and offers interesting statistics. In Bali, for example, consumer prices are 57% lower, rent 79% less, restaurants 68% cheaper, groceries a 56% saving. Europe – France and Spain – are covered too. It’s an idea at least worth investigating.
Sell Up, Pack Up & Take Off by Stephen Watt and Colleen Ryan. Allen & Unwin. RRP: $24.99, available as an e-book.