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Making a Sea Change?

  • May 17, 2018
  • By 50 Shades
  • 29 Comments
Making a Sea Change?

Sea changing, tree changing, downsizing, moving on?
Making a sea change? All the above seem to be considered, in one combination or another, to be a natural progression for those planning retirement, or already retired. Of course the reality is different for some retirees who choose to ‘retire in place’. Whatever your choice, I don’t think I am overemphasising it to say it is a critical choice.

Making a Sea Change?

Why do I say that? Well perhaps because we got it wrong and it was a painful experience both emotionally and financially. Neither of those are resource we can afford to squander in our later years.

But this post isn’t about me, or us, instead it is designed to help you make the right decision when you contemplate moving on (or indeed staying put).

Drivers for downsizing and some traps

There are many reasons you might choose to downsize; if this is your choice it is essential that you are clear on your motivations.

Are you downsizing because you have substantial financial resources tied up in your principal place of residence and you wish to realise those resources to help fund your retirement? That can be a great motivation and it was certainly ours when we sold our home in Melbourne. We knew that we effectively owned a home that ‘we could no longer afford to live in’. That is, the value in a rising market was so great that realising our capital gain would make a huge difference to our retirement. And of course, as our principal place of residence, that capital gain was tax free – bonus! However, if you choose this option and you are on a pension, do inform yourself of the full implications of receiving a tidy sum of cash.

Making a Sea Change?

It was a relatively easy decision for us because much as we loved our home and our neighbourhood we had only lived there for a relatively short time and our friends and family were spread all over Australia – indeed the world.

Another reason for downsizing might be that your current residence really is too big for you, is on a large block or that it is multi-storey, and you can see that it presents physical challenges either now or potentially later in life. We are both very able still, but having lived in two multi-storey homes, one in a hilly area, we are so happy to now be settled in a single level home, on a small block, in a flat area close to facilities. Even though the house is bigger than we might need later in life it will still be manageable.

Sea changing or tree changing isn’t always all beer and skittles (but it can be)

It is imperative that in choosing a new location to live in you give serious consideration to how you see your life in the near term and the longer term.

It is so easy to fall in love with a location which offers natural beauty and a relaxed lifestyle. Perhaps you are considering moving somewhere which has been your holiday location of choice for many years, or maybe you have visited once and just fell head over heels. In either of these situations I caution you to hasten slowly.

Making a Sea Change?

It’s time for you to step back and think about how your life will be on a day to day basis. Will there be enough to fill your days if work is no longer part of your routine? And indeed, if work is still going to be part of your routine are the facilities available to support that work – if you need the internet is there adequate broadband, where do you go for technical support if needed, are there additional business facilities available close by – printing, binding etc. if you need them. Where will you buy supplies for your business and perhaps most importantly, where are your customers?

If you are retiring in this location and you feel comfortable that there are enough facilities and activities to keep you happily engaged (and many small communities do have lots of activities) make sure you also consider your ongoing interaction with family and friends. How easily can you get to them or them to you? Do consider the possibility that choosing an isolated location might mean family and friends are less inclined to visit. Is there an airport close by or regional rail services?

Making a Sea Change?

What of the future too? What if the worst happens and you become unwell? What if you are no longer able to drive? What if one or both of you needs to go into care? Are there services in place to cover those needs? Is there public transport, medical facilities, aged care facilities? None of us really want to contemplate these realities but having lived in a remote location we witnessed many examples of older community members being forced to move out of the town to other locations for advanced care or indeed even hospital care. How sad to find yourself in that situation after spending time building up relationships in a new area.

I know that all sounds negative and I don’t want to pour cold water over your dreams, far from it. However, I do want you to think carefully and pop your rose-coloured glasses aside for a little while before committing your time and your money.

With some thinking and planning and careful consideration of your very own checklist you will be able to find your perfect location for the next phase of your life, whatever that might be. Our later years really can and should be the best time of our lives, I want you to make sure that is the case. Here’s to lots of beer and skittles, or tea and biscuits if that’s your preference.

This was a guest post written by Jan Wild and Rowan Rafferty who blog over at Retiring not Shy!, where they discuss a broad range of topics related to retirement lifestyles, including choosing where to live, wise spending habits, maximising your resources, travel, time management, wellness and exercise. You can find out more about Retiring not Shy! HERE

A big thank you to Jan and Rowan for writing this very pertinent article.

This post is part of the Lovin’ Life Linky with a Lovin’ Life Team of the “ageing positively” kind who are as keen as I am to promote the Lovin’ Life mindset.

The Lovin’ Life Team includes:

Lyndall from Seize the Day Project
Deb from DebbishDotCom
Min from Write of the Middle.
Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit
and of course me, Kathy from 50 Shades of Age


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By 50 Shades, May 17, 2018 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

Browsing Byron Bay
29 Comments
  • Lydia C. Lee
    May 17, 2018

    Not your point at all but FAB shot with the dolphins in the wave!!!! When do I move?! #Lovinglifelinky

    • Kathy Marris
      May 17, 2018

      Yes that was a lucky capture on a perfect day at Mallacoota but you can find those all up and down the coast. Jan

  • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
    May 17, 2018

    I can relate to this Kathy as currently we live in two homes. We mostly reside at my in-laws where we have lived downstairs for 11 years. Now that my FIL has passed away and my MIL is in aged care, we need to prepare to sell the home to fund her aged care home. We have the apartment at the Gold Coast which we love. My husband can’t wait to move there and although I love being near the ocean,my life really is in Brisbane. I have a new grandbaby due in June and my friends are here. I realise it is only an hour’s drive away but I like to be on hand to help my daughter if she needs help with Ethan (& future baby) plus I enjoy running with my Saturday Sisters. It will definitely be a difficult transition for me and one I need to do for Mike. He has always been so supportive of me and has always wanted to retire tot he Coast. At 70 and having always looked after his Mum and Dad and family, I feel it is time for him to enjoy what he wants to do.

    • Kathy Marris
      May 17, 2018

      You certainly have some challenges ahead of you Sue but I am sure you will manage them with your usual equanimity. Hopefully your new location will be close enough to public transport that you can wizz up to Brisbane and enjoy the journey but I can understand your uncertainty. I hope it all works out for both of you. Jan x

  • Jo Tracey
    May 17, 2018

    Some good points. As you know, we did it last year & our motivations were all of the above. We have no regrets, although hubby at 56 has had difficulty finding work, so I suspect that could be him retired. I was fortunate in that I kept my job in Sydney. On one income life in Sydney would have been a struggle, but realising on the capital, life up here is so much different & better at the same time.

    • Kathy Marris
      May 17, 2018

      Finding work in a new location can be tricky, particularly in a more ‘regional’ location like yours, but as you say the lower cost of living can balance that out very nicely. Truth be told work can be hard to find anywhere at any age these days is seems :-(. Jan

  • Denyse
    May 17, 2018

    Interesting and helpful post. Our story was that I was unwell emotionally more than anything and the cost to my health of continuing a part time job to fund a Sydney mortgage along with some other income was not going to happen. My husband is very handy and had a business of kitchen building for some years. Even though we did not speak of moving with a definite plan, he went about slowly and surely preparing the house for sale in a booming (not as extreme as it got later) market in late 2014. Our family told us they no longer needed our help with grandchild care and I was not even too fazed by that as I longed to be debt free. We chose the rent on the Central Coast – a 90 – 120 minute trip back to Sydney if needed and found the first house…then hated it…then found another..liked it..and now one we love. In fact my post linked up on #lovinlife is about house moves. Of course we knew serious health issues might be a challenge IF that came about but for the first two years, I got counselling help and had great GPs and a good dentist. My cancer diagnosis a year ago today changed a lot. We won’t ever move back to Sydney – we both hate what it has become from when we moved there in 1978- but with my on-going visits to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for the next 4 years and Westmead too, this distance is doable. We have moved to a new house in a somewhat different areas and are already making neighbourly friends. Denyse

    • Kathy Marris
      May 17, 2018

      It’s great that you have settled in so well to your new location Denyse. There is no perfect spot is there and they all come with their pluses and minuses, it’s just a matter of weighing up priorities. Jan x

  • Natalie
    May 17, 2018

    Practical tips to consider. Thanks, Kathy, for featuring Jan and Rowan’s post.

  • Candi Randolph
    May 17, 2018

    I agree that it’s one thing to dream about making a move to another place for retirement, but it can be another thing entirely to actually do it and live there day after day. The advice to plan carefully and thoughtfully is very wise indeed!

    • Kathy Marris
      May 17, 2018

      Ah thanks Candi, I don’t often get called wise, but I’ll take it ;-) Seriously though it is so worth taking the time and planning carefully, it can save a lot of time, money and angst in the long run. Jan

  • Min@WriteoftheMiddle
    May 17, 2018

    Fabulous post – thanks Jan and Kathy. It’s so easy to fall in love with a location and forget to think about the practicalities. It’s important to think these things through carefully and hopefully find the right place that will tick all the boxes and provide a happy next phase of life! :-) #TeamLovinlife

    • Kathy Marris
      May 17, 2018

      Thanks Min, it easy to fall in love and if you are a real estate lover there are so many potential loves to pursue :-) It is definitely worth taking the time to work through the options and the realities and get out that crystal ball. Jan x

  • Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au
    May 17, 2018

    It seems like such a simple choice, but there are so many factors that come into play when you start thinking about this seriously. We bought a beautiful block of land with stunning views in a country town about an hour further South from us – but in the end we sold it because it was just too far away from all the resources we’d need as we age and also from our family – it’s hard enough to get them to visit now – let alone adding an extra hour to their trip! So it was a good introduction to the concept of tree change/ sea change. I’m putting it on the back burner for now and we’ll see what happens down the track.

    • Kathy Marris
      May 17, 2018

      As you say Leanne there are so many factors and we don’t always know what the future holds either. It’s great that you realised sooner rather than later that your choice might not have been the best; you at least have time on your side now. We wish we hadn’t made a mistake but glad we didn’t get to our 80s before finding ourselves in a right pickle. You will undoubtedly make a much wiser choice next time (as we hope we have). Jan x

  • Jodie
    May 17, 2018

    This is such great thought to ponder!! We all think it’ll be glorious to change our location and not have the worries, but there’s always something to consider!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Kathy Marris
      May 17, 2018

      Hi Jodie, yes there is always something to consider and the decision is so much better with a bit of ‘due diligence’. Jan x

  • Melissa@All Around Oz
    May 17, 2018

    We are about to downsize…..to a caravan. We hope that during our travels we will find the perfect spot for us to live in the long term, but realistically it will probably be somewhere close to our kids. Lots to think about before it happens.

    • Kathy Marris
      May 17, 2018

      There is lots to think about Mel but taking your time to check out many different locations whilst applying your very own checklist or filters will give you a much better chance of getting it right. In the meantime, enjoy your travels. Jan

  • Jo
    May 17, 2018

    Some very interesting points Jan made, and they definitely need to be stated because downsizing or sea changing can take so many different guises and be reliant on many more factors than merely freeing up some cash – which isn’t always the happy case. We made a semi sea change last year and it’s really suited us. Not being to far from the madding crowd, but near enough not to be remote has been great, and buying a less expensive house has helped too. Ideally I would have loved to pick one of my dream destinations, the ones I’ve visited on holiday (!!) but I know it just wouldn’t be practical for the long term.

    • Kathy Marris
      May 18, 2018

      It’s great that you could see past the temptations Jo because they are so very seductive. Finding a happy medium is so wonderful when you can achieve that, and if you can pocket some cash at the same time all the better. Nice work and those holiday destinations will always be there for, well, holidays. Jan

  • budget jan
    May 17, 2018

    We made the shift to the Sunshine Coast about 1.5 years ago. My parents bravely made the move with us aged 91 and 90. It was traumatic because my wonderful mum died weeks after shifting. We were still packing up their Townsville home and getting it ready for sale. So my life has been a bit up and down emotionally because as well as grieving for mum, our children now grown still live in Townsville. Actually our son is coming and going and may move here too. But we love living on the Sunshine Coast and our neighbours on all sides and across the street and down the road are amazingly friendly. The Sunshine Coast is the friendliest place on earth! I’m loving being closer to Brisbane and meeting up with all my blogging mates – something I never had when I lived in North Queensland. I think we made the right move.

    • Kathy Marris
      May 18, 2018

      Of course I have to say I think you have made the right move ;-) It must have been devastating having your Mum die so soon after making that big move, I feel for you. The children thing can be tricky it seems as the next generation is very mobile and it seems impossible to predict where they might end up, but how lovely for you if your son moves closer to you. And yes the Sunshine Coast does seem to be the friendliest place on earth. Jan

  • Pat
    May 18, 2018

    I can relate to this and some of the comments as well. We just rightsized last fall. Downsized overall but bigger kitchen for me and 2 car garage for hubby’s toys. It’s our “10 year home” as we did not look towards the age-in-place requirements. But we did think through many other aspects, including a move to our “other place” near the beach (900 miles away, 2 bedroom cottage). I was worried about leaving my lifestyle and friends/connections. It was hard enough working through the retirement transition when I had some connections still in place! Hubby would like to move completely there…I’ve agreed to snow-bird it. A compromise for now. We’ll see what the future holds.

    • Kathy Marris
      May 18, 2018

      That sounds like a great compromise Pat. Have you asked your husband what he would do if you lived there full time? He may or may not have thought it through but it sounds as though you definitely have. When you decide you need to move again I hope you find the perfect place. Jan

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    May 23, 2018

    All good info! Especially the “not all beer and skittles” bit. LOL. After our quick junket to the goldie last weekend (and returning to the cold cold winter of Canberraville) the hubby and I are talking more and more seriously about the possibility of apartment living in a warmer climate.

    • Kathy
      May 24, 2018

      I made the sea change for Queensland 38 years ago and have never regretted leaving the cold climate of Central Victoria for the sunshine and beach. It’s a matter of personal choice I guess. It can be difficult leaving friends and family behind so that has to be considered seriously. The downside is that it can get very hot and humid here in Queensland during summer.

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