On the 9th of April this year, my wife Jacqueline and I left Australia to travel the world full-time as roving retirees. We have no planned return date.
How did we arrive at this momentous point? We have to go back a number of years to when we first came across International Living magazine…
We always had ideas of retiring early but, like most folk, we hadn’t worked out a way to achieve this. After 30 years of the normal 9-to-5 existence, working in the IT and Public Health fields, we were looking for a more exciting and affordable lifestyle. The thought of working until we hit 65 (or even older) never had great appeal…but finding a way to afford our dream was always the issue.
Flicking through the pages of International Living magazine each month we came across people just like us who were living the dream overseas in beautiful locations with a much lower cost of living. We knew we had to give it a go so we decided to take an adult gap year to test-drive the roving retiree lifestyle for ourselves.
We planned to start our adventure in Southeast Asia as we had holidayed in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia previously and enjoyed the energy—and affordability—of the region. Plus, it wasn’t too far a journey from our home and family in Melbourne. We used International Living magazine to compile a shortlist of expat-friendly destinations offering a low cost of living, excellent healthcare and a good climate. For us, it came down to Chiang Mai, Thailand, Penang, Malaysia and Da Nang, Vietnam.
Our plan was to spend three to four months in each location to see which we preferred. If the cost savings stacked up then we would spoil ourselves with a month or two in Europe where the cost of living and travel would be pricier. We had a plan, saved up the funds and got ready to go.
A few months before our departure date, we made another discovery through International Living… housesitting. We completed the course and in November 2015, our adventure began.
Our first stop was Chiang Mai, where we jumped enthusiastically into expat life. We quickly made new friends through the activities and various off-shoot interest groups of the Chiang Mai Expats’ Club and discovered a whole new life was possible.
Whilst in Chiang Mai we very excitedly secured our first housesit in the Thai royal resort of Hua Hin…our housesitting journey had commenced. Shortly after completing our Hua Hin housesit, we found ourselves in an apartment in Hong Kong looking after the place for an English couple who were on holidays. These amazing experiences led to a total re-think of our original plans. We didn’t get to try living in Penang or Da Nang but instead ended up doing six months of back-to-back house sits in France, Spain and the U.K.!
We were hooked on this new lifestyle. We found housesitting suited us perfectly and also enabled us to stretch our budget many times further than originally planned, travel to fantastic places, meet wonderful people and stay in beautiful homes caring for lovely pets.
We returned from our housesitting adventures in Europe and spent the final month of our gap year back in Chiang Mai renewing friendships from earlier in the year and reflecting on everything we’d learned and done.
We returned to Australia safe in the knowledge that the housesitting lifestyle was going to be our passport to an enriching, affordable and exciting retirement.
Jacqueline returned to work whilst I busied myself preparing our family home for rent and selling or giving away almost all of our possessions. After a year of travel we realised that you don’t need all the material stuff you accumulate…so, off it went. A few months later, we were all set, we spent the spring and summer in the U.K. before heading to Spain and on to Thailand, where we are now, loving every minute of our roving retirement lifestyle…
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