Hoi An, Bali and Beyond: Our Roving Retirement Adventure

My wife Christie and I knew a couple of things about retirement. One was that we didn’t want a run-of-the mill, rocking-chair affair. We wanted excitement, adventure, to meet new people, to keep learning and to have heaps of fun. And, with all that in store, we knew we didn’t want to wait to enjoy it.

So, for us, taking early retirement and setting off overseas made sense…although it sent a lot of our friends and family reeling. After all, we’re not your typical adventure types; we’re not adrenalin junkies and we don’t much care for roughing it when we travel. People would describe us as quiet and sensible. Hardly the sort to go haring off to the other side of the world.

But this wasn’t some madcap, spur-of-the-moment decision. For about a year beforehand I’d been busy doing my research. I poked about on the internet, found International Living magazine and, through its pages, discovered there was a whole world of likeminded souls out there, looking for—and finding—ways to live overseas. And the best part…? We’d actually be saving money.

I found that hard to believe myself at first, I thought there must be some creative accounting going on. But doing more research—and our sums—proved it was true. So, decision made. We were off.

Our first stop was Southeast Asia, where we spent a year exploring Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. A highlight was the three months we spent test-driving life in Hoi An.

We rented a furnished, two-bedroom house for $470 a month and spent our days wandering its romantic, historical streets and savouring its delicious food. Tasty banh mi (filled rolls) bursting with fresh meat and vegies for less than $1, cao lau, a signature dish of savoury broth, fat noodles, juicy pieces of barbecue pork, crispy rice croutons for $2 and the best pork belly we’ve ever had for just $7. With options like that on the table you won’t be surprised to hear we ate out every night, but you might be surprised to learn that we lived in Hoi An on a budget of just $50 a day—for both of us.

Next up, we headed to Central and South America. One of the great things about travelling like this is we can pick and choose where we stay and how long for. If we don’t like a place, we just move on. And, if we find somewhere we love, we can stay as long as we please.

Take Medellin, Colombia’s “City of Eternal Spring”. Our planned quick stop here turned into a two-month stay when we fell for the city’s many charms… Friendly locals, a great climate—the year-round temperature averages 22 C—and parks, green space and public art abound. We lived well here on a budget a shade under $100 a day for us both, including rent on a brand-new, furnished apartment in one of the city’s best expat neighbourhoods.

When the time came for a change, we headed to Bali where the laidback, easy living in the seaside town of Sanur saw us stay put for 10 months. A record for us. We had only intended to stay for 10 weeks! But we’re on the move again. After a housesit in Singapore, we spent 10 days exploring Egypt on a guided tour and our next stop is Greece. The start of our European adventure.

When we first set off, I think a lot of people expected to see us back in six months—or less—but, we’re now over two years into our roving retirement adventure and there’s still so many places we’ve yet to explore. Along the way, we’ve had a few adventures, seen some amazing sights, sampled delicious food and made new friends. Most of all, we’ve realised just how lucky we are to be on this journey.

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