Blog by Rowan Rafferty and Jan Wild– are Australian baby boomers, who wanted to explore new horizons whilst re-wiring towards a fulfilling retirement. Retired or planning retirement? Follow our lifestyle blog and join our community to share information, ideas, inspiration and explore possibilities.
The delights of South West France include The Loire Valley, La Rochelle and Bordeaux. Join us on a petite excursion to some of our favourite places in France.
We have visited parts of South West France on two occasions; once as a side trip from Paris and on the second occasion as an extension of a visit to parts of Northern France. Both times we have greatly enjoyed our visits. Then again, we seem to enjoy all of our time in France.
The Loire Valley
We drove to The Loire from Paris, a relatively easy drive of 2-3 hours, and based ourselves in the lovely City of Tours. We stayed at the Hotel Moderne close to the centre of the City but with good on street parking. This Hotel gets very mixed reviews on Trip Advisor but we found it excellent value for money and loved the location. Having said that, it is now 3 years since we visited so it may be time to look at other options.
Tours is a University City, and like most of those, we found it vibrant, with lots of great cafes and restaurants and a friendly fun vibe. We had two wonderful meals at L’odeon, located near the Railway Station in an unprepossessing building. Really delicious food and good service. It’s not hard to eat well in Tours though, and we had excellent food on each of our four evenings there.
We also took the hop on hop off tour from the excellent Tourist Office . This gave us a terrific introduction to the City sights including the beautiful half timbered buildings surrounding the square at Place Plumereau. Having discovered the Place during the tour, we headed back there for an evening meal and found it full of locals enjoying a glass of wine and a meal. There is something for everyone here, from a simple meal of crepes to fine dining. I recall enjoying Magret duck with lavender and honey sauce, sadly I can no longer locate the restaurant we ate at.
Chateau de Chenonceau
Of course the Loire Valley is known for much more than the City of Tours. and that includes both excellent wines and the many Chateau which are open to the public. We forsook visiting wineries this time but we did visit the absolutely stunning Chateau de Chenonceau which was built over the River Cher. It would be easy to become totally overwhelmed by all the Chateau so we decided to just visit one and we are glad we did. We spent several hours wandering through the building and grounds of this magnificent edifice and were overcome by the beauty and grandeur as well as the history. We couldn’t recommend this Chateau highly enough.
Chateau de Chenonceau, The Loire Valley
Cointreau factory tour
A couple of months before we visited the Loire Valley I happened to be looking at a bottle of Cointreau; a very favourite liqueur. I realised that this beautiful liquid was manufactured in the Loire Valley, and some fast finger work revealed that it was possible to do a tour of the factory. This we booked in advance and set off for a morning drink tour. This was a truly fascinating experience as we had a complete tour of the factory, with an excellent historical overview and the tour ended with a cocktail lesson and tasting -mmmm. There was also an opportunity to purchase a bottle (or two) at the end of the tour and to our surprise at very good prices, cheaper than Duty Free. We may have availed ourselves of this opportunity.
Tasting cocktails at the Cointreau Factory, Angers, The Loire Valley
On a subsequent visit to France we spent several nights in the lovely City of La Rochelle. We stayed in an Airbnb in the heart of the town and greatly enjoyed wandering around the sights of this beautiful City. Also a University town, we again found that friendly relaxed vibe wherever we went. The entry by car to La Rochelle is less than inspiring, but once in and around the old City we really fell in love with it. The colonnades and arcades are beautiful and there are many stylish shopping opportunities as well as delicious seafood to enjoy. It is also very pleasant to enjoy an afternoon aperitif sitting in the sun and looking over the old port.
La Rochelle is a seaport on the Bay of Biscay (a name of conjure with) and has a population of around 80,000. It is known as the White City (La Ville Blanche) due to the beautiful limestone facades of the buildings. Those buildings include three Medieval towers, one of which is below. Two of these towers stand at the gateway to the old port and are the last remaining fortifications of the City.
Tour Saint Nicolas, La Rochelle
Magnificent cafe in La Rochelle, South West France
La Rochelle is connected to the Ile de Re by a 2.9 kilometre bridge. We did not visit the Ile de Re, but instead took the ferry to Ile d’Aix where, after his defeat at Waterloo, Napoleon spent his last days on French soil, before surrendering to the British and being transferred to St Helena. With the benefit of hindsight we would have preferred to visit Ile de Re with its excellent seafood and to see where the famous sea salt is harvested.
We so enjoyed our time in La Rochelle, it is a City on our list to hopefully return to.
The Bordeaux region
After leaving La Rochelle we drove down to the Bordeaux region, which comprises several wine regions.
We stayed in the very lovely bed and breakfast L’Autre Vie situated in a vineyard and between two villages. This was a perfect base for our stay of several nights. On one day we drove to the nearest train station and caught the train into the beautiful City of Bordeaux, where we enjoyed a pleasant lunch at Le Petit Commerce and a wander around the City and along the River. Whilst we are glad we stayed out in a more rural area, there is no doubt that Bordeaux is a beautiful City and one that demands greater attention.
The City of Bordeaux
Perfect creme brulee at La Petit Commerce, Bordeaux
We also made a visit to the pretty world heritage village of Saint-Emilion. As well as what seemed like hundreds of wine stores, Saint-Emilion has a fascinating history and we greatly enjoyed a tour of the 12th Century monolithic church and it’s underground structures. Well worth doing. Be warned though that Saint-Emilion is a big tourist drawcard and can get very busy with quite a number of tourist buses arriving and moving through the narrow streets.
A good part of our time in the Bordeaux region was spent relaxing at our accommodation, enjoying the local wines and soaking up the sun as well as sharing delicious cheese and charcuterie plates and talking with other guests. This was a wonderful time out after weeks of full on touring, and a fitting end to our time in South West France.
Have you visited the South West of France? What was your favourite place? What place/s are on your wish list?
Sleep problems sometimes emerge with age. Older people might find that their good sleep habits of a lifetime are just not working any more. Keep reading to find out how and why sleep is different for older people, and most importantly learn some tips to help you sleep well.
[This is a guest post by Alicia Potts. Alicia is a Sociologist who is passionate about helping people realise the value of sleep. She is proud to be the founder of The Deep Sleep Co, Australia’s guide to getting a better night’s sleep. ].
How ageing creates sleep problems
Sleep problems can emerge as we age
Older people tend to need the same or slightly less sleep than younger adults. There is a lot of scientific debate around whether older people have different sleep needs or just different sleep patterns. As can be seen in the chart below from the National Sleep Foundation, after 65 years of age the recommended amount of sleep drops from 7-9 hours per night to 7-8.
Hours of sleep at different ages
The biggest changes occur in what the experts call ‘sleep architecture’, which basically refers to the structure of our sleep patterns. As we mature, it takes us longer to get to sleep than when we were younger. Ageing also causes a decrease in the deep phase of sleep. Older people will experience more light sleeping which means waking more easily and more frequently during the night. Other causes of night waking also grow more prevalent with age. These causes include getting up to urinate, anxiety, restless leg syndrome and discomfort from chronic illness. Unfortunately, insomnia is a side effect of some common prescription medications as well.
Consequently, older people can often feel fatigued during the day, and sometimes need to take a nap. So even though your sleep needs may be slightly less, you are more likely to feel tired. But getting quality sleep is just as important, or maybe more so than ever. Lack of sleep has been proven to increase the likelihood of developing dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.
Why do older people have insomnia?
Studies have found that adults start to lose the ability to get deep sleep as early as our mid-30s. As we age, the neurons and circuits in the brain that regulate sleep slowly degrade. This results in less deep, restorative sleep.
Insomnia can become more frequent as we age
Research published in 2017 claims that it’s an important evolutionary task that keeps older people up at night. According to the study, in ancient times, the older adults slept lightly to be able to alert the others in their tribe to danger. This enabled the younger adults, who spent their days hunting and gathering, to get the deep sleep they needed. This could also explain why ageing causes a disruption in people’s circadian rhythm. Evidence shows that younger adults tend to be night owls and older adults tend to be early risers. This minimises the amount of time when the whole tribe is asleep, in turn keeping them safer.
However, unless you live in a cave, chances are this evolutionary hangover is not serving you anymore. There are things you can do to improve your sleep quality, and subsequently your overall health.
Tips to help you sleep well
Keeping a routine is the key to good sleep. As much as possible, go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Doctors have found that this can help with mental health as well.
Spend time outdoors during the day to get exposure to natural light. Some research suggests that older people may not make sleep hormones as easily as young bodies. The best way to combat this is to absorb sunlight during the day and stay away from bright light sources after sundown.
Try some moderate exercise in the afternoon (but not immediately before bed). This does not need to be a trip to the gym. Do something you enjoy – play tennis with friends or walk your dog.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening. These drinks affect your ability to get to sleep and get quality, deep sleep. Try herbal tea as a lovely relaxing night time drink. Rooibos is a delicious caffeine-free tea and has a high nutritional value as well.
Keep a pen and notebook beside your bed. While we are going to sleep or during the night, our brains often remember things or realise answers to questions. Write anything you want to remember down on your notepad and give your mind permission to forget it.
You might assume that poor sleep is a normal part of ageing. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Talk to your doctor about natural ways you can improve your sleep and start taking steps to gain control of your sleep health.
Is it a foregone conclusion that ageing can dent our self confidence? Or is it more likely that we might improve our confidence in some aspects but experience a loss of self confidence in other aspects as we age?
In my experience it is more likely to be the latter but the research seems to show very mixed results. I am no academic or researcher in this field so I wonder how much our confidence is impacted by not just age but by our upbringing, our genetics and our nationality, as well as the personal resources we apply to our situation?
And what are the aspects of life which are most affected by our levels of self confidence? Is a loss of confidence in the elderly more obvious in our social skills, our physical skills or our mental skills, or does it vary from person to person? And if we do experience a loss of confidence, what skills might we employ to improve our confidence?
[This is my personal story and does not represent medical advice. Please seek professional advice if you are facing disturbing mental and physical limitations].
Loss of confidence in physical abilities
My greatest loss of confidence has been in my physical abilities. This is due to a number of factors, not all age related. I have a bad scoliosis and over the years I haven’t taken as much care of this as I should have. In my 20s I was told I would need a spinal operation and to be honest I couldn’t get out of the doctor’s surgery fast enough; the thought of someone ‘sticking a knife in my spine’ (that was my assessment of it) was terrifying. Consequently I pretty much decided to ignore the problem and went on my merry way, including walking to work in high heels!
Needless to say I am paying the price now; funnily enough ignoring the problem didn’t make it go away. Back ache is a regular event for me and the effects of my scoliosis are felt all down my right side into my ankle. Add several twisted ankles on that side and I am decidedly wobbly in certain situations. I have continued to compensate for my injuries and allowed the weaknesses to worsen. The situation wasn’t helped by living in a location with limited medical and exercise facilities, nor by my inherent laziness!
Fortunately I now find myself living in a location where I am surrounded by a choice of practitioners as well as a surfeit of exercise options. As well as regular myotherapy sessions I have commenced small group Pilates. After 2 Pilates sessions I can already feel the difference in my back; much less pain when walking. I am delighted to be more able to work on my fitness without experiencing pain.
I am on the road to improved confidence in my physical abilities – is that a rainbow I see ?
As I stabilise my core and my spine, I plan to increase other forms of exercise. I am off to a new GP to get an exercise clearance and then I will be looking for a personal trainer to put together some strength training. COTA, the Council on The Ageing, explains why strength training is so important. I have definitely lost strength in my arms and my legs and I find myself looking for support in too many instances – amongst other things I don’t feel as confident on stairs as I should. I am looking forward to regaining my confidence in a number of activities which I have tended to avoid – I have been on a slippery slope in more ways than one.
Loss of confidence in mental abilities
I experience more ‘tip of the tongue’ moments than I would like. Frustrating as it is, this is described as an example of ‘normal ageing’ and not necessarily a forerunner of dementia. Similarly, not being able to remember names or the detail of a conversation or events that happened a year ago. There is much information on the internet on the differences between normal ageing and dementia, I found the Dementia Australia guidelines clear and comforting. Of course they are guidelines only and if you have serious concerns about your mental abilities then do seek medical advice. There is a huge amount of medical research in this area and my understanding is that the earlier a diagnosis is made, the better the outcomes.
To stave off dementia there are many suggestions of ways to keep the brain active. I recently read that dancing is one of the best ways to keep the brain healthy. I understand learning a language is also excellent. There is a long list on the Dementia Australia page of things to avoid and things to do more of. Like most life issues exercise, a healthy diet and relaxation are key factors for memory retention.
A healthy diet is important for maintaining mental abilities
Managing emotions in the face of loss of confidence
Perhaps the greatest risk in dealing with ageing and self confidence is managing one’s own emotions. I know for me fear can be a powerful force. I have never been really confident in the ocean but I wasn’t always as nervous as I am now. I fear my dodgy ankle will let me down and that if I get knocked down I won’t be able to get up. Perversely I love the feeling of salt on my skin and I want to get back into (relatively calm) ocean water. It’s part of my plan for living on the Sunshine Coast. So along with improving my strength and getting my ankle healed I need to give myself a good talking to; I need to change my script from ‘I can’t do that’ to ‘I can do that’. Another tool I can use will be visualisation to both dissolve my fears but also to see myself enjoying the ocean.
Confidence in physical abilities is important in ageing
There is a lot of information available on how to improve confidence at any age, do take the time to find what works for you
Summing up ageing and self confidence
Ageing can bring self confidence in personal image
On the positive side of the ledger I am much more confident in myself as a person. Despite my physical and mental limitations I feel much more confident in who I am and how I present myself to the world. I no longer feel like I need to follow rules devised by others and I generally have a stronger sense of self and my personal compass for navigating the world. So perhaps it is true that as self esteem and ageing can wax in some aspects and wane in others. Now to continue to tackle the weaknesses and leverage the strengths, isn’t that what life is about?
How is your self confidence as you age? Do you feel more or less confident? Are you better in some areas, and worse in others? What tools do you use to maintain your physical and mental agility and to manage your emotional responses to any weaknesses?
It has already been postulated that the first human to live to 150 has already been born. Given living to 100 has been an achievement for very few, living to 150 seems almost crazy. Almost.
[This is a guest post by Leonie Sanderson of The Ageing Revolution. Find out more about Leonie at the end of this post]
Scientific advances in human longevity
Recently I listened to a very interesting panel of scientists, all of whom were working on increasing human longevity. Their guess was that within ten years’ time, there will be drugs on the market that not only extend our lives but also our overall health. As I sat there listening, the talk noted research on mice which also indicated that women’s fertility might also be able to be extended, since lab mice subjected to these particular experiments had a delayed onset of menopause. ‘Woohoo’, the perimenopausal me thought. That’d be a bonus!
Is longevity desirable or not?
And then I started imagining what our lives might be like if we all knew we could live longer, delay having kids, delay all those things associated with kids – a mortgage and a stable job, settling down and at the same time, reduce our chances of getting diseases associated with ageing (like cancer, alzheimers and diabetes type II).
The reality of defeating ageing
A million questions entered my head. How would we approach work? Life? Play? Would retirement even be a thing? Would population growth slow? How would we pay for our longer lives? Would the gap between rich and poor widen even further, with those who are rich remaining youthful inside and out, and those in poverty marked by old age? What would it be like to treat age as a disease instead of a natural part of life? Would it lead to more ageism? Or an increased valuing of the experience that age naturally brings?
Is ageing a bed of roses?
These philosophical dilemmas are no longer the realm of science fiction or some distant future – remember, ten years was the conservative estimate of the experienced scientists on the panel – changing how we view ageing and health is very much a present-day reality.
Is anti-ageing just another form of ageism?
And to be really honest, I feel completely conflicted by the whole thing. While I wholeheartedly embrace ageing and the benefits it brings, there is no doubt in my mind that if a drug were available to reduce the effects of ageing, on my muscles and my organs, that I would take it. The opportunity to live a longer and healthier life is appealing, especially as I begin to notice more and more the effects that growing older has on my body. But am I being ageist?
The definition of ageism according to a number of dictionaries is: prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group and especially the elderly. So maybe it isn’t ageism if I don’t particularly like the idea of age-related disease but like the idea of growing older free from ill-health or decline.
Ageism and women
But this is complex territory especially for women since youth and beauty and value seem to be so connected as to make ageing almost immoral. Author of ‘Perfect Me’, Heather Widdows argues ‘that our perception of the self is changing. More and more, we locate the self in the body–not just our actual, flawed bodies but our transforming and imagined ones. As this happens, we further embrace the beauty ideal. Nobody is firm enough, thin enough, smooth enough, or buff enough—not without significant effort and cosmetic intervention. And as more demanding practices become the norm, more will be required of us, and the beauty ideal will be harder and harder to resist’.
Are you chasing longevity? Cartoon by Simon Kneebone
Not keeping up with beauty ideals is hard for women even now, bombarded as we are with anti-ageing messages to fight wrinkles, hide grey hair and stay youthful and slim. I, for one, am not immune but perhaps we are all a bit paradoxical. I love my grey hair and have eschewed most skin care products designed to attack the lines since I figure, what the hell, they’re my lines and my life. But I still ply my face with cold-pressed oils, strive for a fit body and despair at the fact that even looking at a donut now seems to add centimetres to my waistline. I love the experience ageing brings, the calm that I feel in most situations, but yearn for the days when I could party til 3am and do it all again the next day.
So viva ageing, I say. Life is here to be lived and enjoyed for as long as possible and growing older should be valued not denied. But if there’s a chance to kick cancer and menopause in the ass, then count me in!
Leonie Sanderson from The Ageing Revolution
[Leonie Sanderson is the Director of The Ageing Revolution. The Ageing Revolution is a profit-for-purpose company co-founded by Leonie and her partner Simon Lowe. The Ageing Revolution aims to be the trusted authority and leader on creative change in the ageing system. Leonie and Simon believe they can make a difference to everyone’s ageing journey! They are creating a network of strategic partnerships that can disrupt the ageing system and create new, better products and services that can benefit all involved.]
Special thanks to Simon Kneebone for the cartoons.
How do you feel about ageing? Do you accept it gracefully with its pluses and minuses, or do you rail against it? Would you want to use drugs that extended your life or would you prefer to just have better quality of life but not greater longevity? What other issues do you see with these possible changes?
Moving house scores 20 on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. If you are moving as part of your retirement plans then your stress levels might be even higher; retirement in itself is considered by many as number 10 in the 10 most stressful life events. Here are our tips and a checklist for minimising stress for your next move.
1. A long settlement period
If you are selling an existing residence, and if it is possible, negotiate a long settlement period for both your current and new residences. For our recent move from Mallacoota to Noosaville we agreed a 120 day settlement on our Mallacoota property which significantly reduced our stress, allowing us plenty of time to plan and execute our move.
2. Declutter then declutter some more
Use your settlement period to ruthlessly declutter your possessions. We thought we had been quite ruthless, but on our arrival at our new home we realised we needed to declutter even more. Many of those decisions are difficult, but pared back possessions which will fit well in your new home can create a harmonious sense of old and new. Allow yourself to move on in every sense of the word.
3. Use checklists for everything
We ran Excel spreadsheet checklists for major tasks like changes of address, connection and disconnection of services etc. You can download our moving house checklist and edit it to meet your own needs. As well, we ran a spreadsheet with a line for every part of the house that needed to be packed. When a cupboard was packed it was ticked off the list.
4. Clean as you pack
We cleaned as we went, once a cupboard was packed up it was then cleaned. This was also noted on the packing spreadsheet. We did use a cleaner to do a final exit clean but it saved us a lot of money to have most internal shelving clean as part of the packing process. And on the cleaning note, we found Eucalyptus Oil to be our greatest friend, particularly on white melamine; sticky marks just disappeared like magic.
Cleaning as you pack saves money and time
5. Wrap and pack each item carefully
Don’t use newspaper, it will leave dirty marks all over your possessions. We were fortunate to secure second hand packing boxes and paper to meet our needs. We double wrapped precious things and put aside a box of hand blown glasses to travel in our car. We also had wooden crating tailor made for two pieces of art. Stock up on quality packing tape (clear is generally better quality than the brown stuff), as well as thick permanent markers in black and red. Also, choose appropriate boxes for different items; don’t break your back or stress your removalists by using large boxes for books, wine boxes are ideal for those.
6. Label every box clearly
On each box record your name/s, destination address, which room the box is to be delivered to and what the contents are. Take particular care to detail which box essential items are in – you don’t want the kettle to be in any one of 10 kitchen boxes; you will be wanting a cup of tea. You may wish to number your boxes, some people do, we had far too many to be bothered with that. If a box has fragile contents and/or needs to be stored upright or on top of rather than under other boxes, use your red marker to make that clear.
7. Choose your removalists carefully
Research removalists and if possible meet them face to face before making a final selection. Can they meet your timelines and specific needs? If you need goods stored are they able to do that, and will that be secure. Make sure too that you understand what their insurance does and does not cover. We had our goods put into a container which was stored on the removalists’ property for a couple of weeks before being delivered to our new home. The container was ideal as things didn’t need to be unpacked at their premises. However, the goods were not covered by the removalists’ insurance except whilst in transit. We organised for our content insurance to cover our possessions for the time they were in storage, so do check this out.
Choose your removalists carefully!
8. Have an ‘on arrival’ box and take it with you
Make sure you have a box with you that contains essential items for when your goods arrive. Not just tea and headache tablets :-), you will also need a stanley knife or two for opening boxes, and perhaps a toolkit with screwdrivers, allen keys etc. for assembling beds. We also found having a small portable vacuum cleaner was great for keeping rooms tidy as we unpacked.
9. Have a clear agreement on priorities for arrival
We were very clear that our top priority was to have our bed made and our bedroom relatively clear on our first night. Bed linen, towels, perhaps a beautiful soap etc. needed to be close at hand, as did drinking glasses for copious amounts of water, and a bottle of wine for the end of the day. Your list might be different but so long as you are clear on your priorities then you will be OK. Perhaps too you might plan to eat out on your first night whilst your fridge is cooling down and your kitchen essentials are not yet all unpacked.
10. Don’t try and do everything on the first day
Remember where we started; moving house is stressful. Take your time to find new homes for each item. Two weeks after moving in we still have unpacked boxes but we are fine with that. We have all our essentials plus a few luxuries, and we have some calm uncluttered spaces to relax in; the rest is being dealt with on a bit by bit basis.
A relaxing space in our lounge room
11. Know that things will go wrong
With the best will in the world you will almost certainly have some challenges and removalists, even good ones, won’t get everything right. We had a broken wine glass and a cracked noodle bowl, and put that down to bad luck. Also whilst our cutlery was clearly labelled on the box and was designated Kitchen for unloading, because it was a relatively small box it got put into some tubs and left in our garage behind other stuff. It took us about a week to track that down. Fortunately we had a small set of cutlery with us on arrival.
12. Take time to enjoy your new home
We are very fortunate to have a pool at our new home. We made sure that every day during the unpacking we took at least a few minutes to enjoy a quick dip and a soak in the sun. We also planned some walking and other activities in the local area so that life wasn’t all work and no play.
Taking a quick break in the pool helped us get through the unpacking.
Have you moved house recently? Got tips to share with us? Did it go smoothly or did you have challenges?
Think you want to retire in a different location to your current home? Then it might be time to get out your crystal ball, or at least apply some ‘what if’ scenarios. Relocating in retirement can be a wonderful experience but it can also come with pitfalls.
Why do I say it might be harder than you think? Well, if you simply choose a place you enjoyed holidaying at, you might find it different to live there. Usually when we go on holiday we have a certain scenario in place which makes for an enjoyable time. We might want to lie by the pool and read all day then go out for cocktails and a delicious dinner. Alternatively, we might want to play golf every day for a week and enjoy a BBQ each night. A holiday is a wonderful restorative time after weeks and months of hard work. It is a time to ‘down tools’.
However, it is unlikely that your retirement can or will be one long holiday. Don’t get me wrong, one of the wonderful things about retirement is having management of your own time (although that too can have challenges – you can read about my experience here). Retirement is real life and you will not only find you have more time on your hands, you may also find that you wish to have different and more varied experiences than you would have on a 2-3 week holiday. I once read (unfortunately I can no longer find the source) about a client of a retirement coach. When the coach asked his client what he planned to do in retirement, the answer was “play golf”. The coach then suggested to his client that he take leave and play golf every day for a month. At the end of the month the client realised that there needed to be more to his retirement life than just golf, and so began the coaching process.
We need to plan for richness of experience in retirement. What are the things we want to do, who are the people we want and need to be with etc? Then choose your location based on those considerations, which apply whether you plan to relocate within your own country, or retire overseas.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What do I expect to be doing in retirement (full or semi-retirement)? Will the locations I am considering support those expectations, including part time work if you wish to continue employment?
Where are my friends and family located and how easily can I visit them and indeed how easy is it for them to visit me?
What support and health services are around for my later years – you may not need these now, but it is useful to project forward if your retirement location is to be your ‘always’ location.
What public transport options are there within that location and away from that location? What if for some reason you were no longer able to drive?
What communities of interest and hobbies will you want to be involved with – sporting, musical, other arts, crafts, church, etc.
Is there a gym, a heated pool, walking tracks, a beach, a water course for boating or kayaking? How will you get that essential exercise in a way that you enjoy?
Are there opportunities to learn something new, to keep your mental processes alert and healthy?
How will you manage your finances in that location? If you prefer to not do so online is there a bank, a government agency etc. that you will need to be able to access?
If you are planning to volunteer, will you find suitable opportunities to do so? Will your skills and talents be well used and valued?
To begin the process of choosing your location you might like to answer some of these questions and also to refer to the Wheel of Life.
Have you chosen your retirement location yet? How is it working out for you? Is the best scenario for you to remain where you are? What will be the key factors for you in choosing your location? Tell us your thoughts.
Around four years ago, my husband took me out for a drink one night, and he had big news to impart. I was concerned that his news could be that he was ill, or had decided to leave our marriage or change careers. However it was none of the above. He said: “So you want to caravan around Australia”? In other words, he wanted to know whether I would be prepared to leave my job and home, and travel around Australia in a caravan for six months or more! I said yes and here are my tips on planning your caravan trip.
[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Kathy Marris of 50 Shades of Age. Kathy and her husband Tom are experienced caravanners and keen travellers Be sure to check out Kathy’s blog. This post contains affiliate links, if you purchase a book from Booktopia, we will earn a small commission but you won’t pay any extra].
My initial reaction was one of delight. Leave my job – YES! But leave my home and our two adult children and beautiful Labrador dog behind – I was not so certain. I had hundreds of reasons running through my head as to why not to go. After all we were both only in our mid to late fifties and maybe a little too young to be classified as ‘grey nomads’. How would I survive without the luxuries of life I had grown accustomed to? And how would I cope being with my husband 24/7 in a small caravan?
There were so many reasons not to take this gigantic step, but after thinking and talking it through with my husband I thought “What the heck. What have I got to lose”? There really wasn’t one plausible reason why we couldn’t go (apart from the fact that we had to rent out our house for six months).
Camping at Little Brook Dam Pemberton
Planning your Caravan Trip
And so the planning began! We decided to depart on our trip from the Gold Coast in Queensland at the end of the Christmas school holiday period which was the day after Australia Day on the 27 January 2014. We also, after doing some research, decided to take our dog with us, as we discovered there were many pet-friendly camping spots and caravan parks around Australia.
As for the dilemma of what to do with our house, after discussions with our 25-year old son he asked whether he could get some friends together and rent the house from us for the six-month period. We agreed to this under certain strict conditions and at the end of the day it solved one of our problems.
Purchasing the Right Caravan for the Trip
We immediately started looking around for a new caravan as the one we owned was not suitable, plus it didn’t have a toilet or shower. We both felt we needed a caravan that was solid in construction for all the off-road stuff we were intending to do, plus it had to have an ensuite. After shopping around we decided upon a New Age 16-foot Manta Ray caravan. We discovered that this very modern caravan had all features that we required and aesthetically it was very pleasing to the eye.
Planning your caravan trip will include choosing the right caravan
There are hundreds of caravans on the market, so do your homework well and attend Caravan and Camping Expos, talk to fellow caravanners, get onto online caravan forums and visit some caravan dealerships. Work out what you’ll be comfortable travelling in and make sure that your motor vehicle is big enough to tow the caravan. A four-wheel drive is paramount for towing most caravans.
Think about things like the length, weight and manoeuvrability of the caravan you’re going to purchase. There is no point in buying a huge monster of a caravan if your vehicle isn’t up to towing it and it’s going to use up hundreds of dollars of petrol every day. So economical planning is extremely important.
Planning an Itinerary
The preceding four to five months to the trip were a blur of being very busy planning and preparing for our trip. We spent nights poring over maps and camping guides working out where to travel. My husband spent endless dollars on buying accessories and equipment required for the trip and I spent mine on buying odds and ends for the interior of the caravan.
Perlubie Beach Camping
There were two invaluable resources we discovered and that was the Camps 9 Australia Wide book and an app we downloaded on our phone called Wikicamps. Both resources informed us of the best places to camp with detailed information on each campground/caravan park and gave us co-ordinates that we could plot into our Navman.
Packing the Caravan
Pack as lightly as possible. If there is only the two of you travelling you only need a small amount of crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils and kitchenware. Ladies, you will only need very casual clothing like shorts, t-shirts, yoga pants, a couple of casual dresses and a jacket for cooler mornings and nights. You won’t need dressy outfits, high heels and heaps of makeup or beauty products, because you won’t be going anywhere dressy (unless it’s to the Pub or local Sports Club for a counter meal).
Take a change of linen and towels, in case you can’t get them laundered and take an extra blanket, because some nights do tend to get cold in the caravan. Pack a few books, magazines, cards or board games for entertainment. Also put some movies or TV shows on a hard-drive to watch on TV because reception can be dodgy in a lot of areas. Also buy yourself a 3G/4G portable WiFi modem so that you can keep in contact by email or messenger with family and friends. Most places have Telstra 3G/4G reception.
Happy Hour at Katherine
The most important thing is to relax, go where the road takes you and don’t try to plan too far ahead. We never made too many forward bookings at caravan parks or camping grounds because we didn’t want to be too regimented. This is one of the best things about caravanning around Australia – no set itineraries and absolute freedom!!!
What is it about work that can make living without it such a life change? There are plenty of good things about work. One option, when we retire, is to leave behind the bad aspects; such as not having enough time, and specifically keep the good things. A possibility might be a gig or sharing economy job.
[This is a guest post by Melinda Livingstone from IncomeConnection. IncomeConnection is a website designed to connect your skills with opportunities to earn an income. If you think that only means Airbnb or Uber, you will be surprised to see how many other types of sharing economy jobs are available in Australia]
What are the benefits of working?
The first benefit of working is the ‘positive stress’ of having our week structured and people depending on us. We have deadlines and are expected somewhere at a certain time; essentially providing the services that we are paid for. We are less likely to suffer from relevance deprivation syndrome.
We also get a buzz from achievement, social connection, collaborating with others, contributing our skills, and working together towards a common purpose.
Even the small things of navigating our journey to and from work engages us in our communities and gives a sense of being part of something bigger.
Even our journey to work gives us a sense of connection to something bigger
And lastly, there is also identity and status associated with our job. Meeting new people and being asked ‘what do you do?’ can be uncomfortable for some retirees.
Dr Martin Seligman, author of ‘Authentic Happiness’, identified five things as being important to happiness. These are positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement. For many of us, work has either intentionally or unintentionally gone a good way towards meeting these needs for most of our lives.
So how do we bring ‘positive work’ into retirement? Here are three options:
Continue in our career, but on a part-time, casual or consulting basis
If you enjoy your work, this option is a great one because it supports a smooth transition into retirement. Hats off to those who can pull it off. We all know people who do. But, for as many who can, there are more who want to and can’t. It is much easier to negotiate going part-time with your current employer than picking up part-time work on the open market where you are competing against part-time working parents.
For some occupations such as law, nursing and teaching, the choice to keep working is more likely to be yours . In other occupations, it is rare to see someone aged over 50. Given careers can come to an end due to an employer’s choice, it is good to have other strategies in your back pocket.
Volunteering can tick the ‘positive work’ box and be incredibly satisfying.
One of my friends was a teacher and a high school principal before he retired and each year helps a school in rural Asia with teacher training and governance. He feels that helping this school as a volunteer has been the most rewarding highlight of his entire teaching career.
After a career in a very different industry, another friend fulfils a life-long interest in gems by serving on a not-for-profit board and teaching students.
For me, my volunteering is with refugees and in advocacy for children with disability. Although my corporate career was enjoyable and engaging, volunteering is that too, plus meets purpose goals for me.
Volunteering is a great way meet our achievement, teamwork, purpose and positive stress needs. So many organisations appreciate our skills that we have honed over the years.
If you miss the status and identity that your career provided, many charities, sports and community groups have consultancy, high profile and leadership roles such as boards and advisory councils.
Having said that, I appreciate that volunteering doesn’t suit everyone in retirement. In Australia the highest rate of adult volunteering is actually by people aged between 35 and 44.
Flexible opportunities in the on-demand sharing economy
Expanding our options is the on-demand sharing economy. The new part is the ‘on-demand’ technology that makes it easier to pick up work, when and where we want to. Also new is that people are willing to pay us for activities and assets that previously did not have a monetary value.
The sharing economy enables us to turn a hobby into an income stream
Companies in the ‘sharing economy’ space are increasingly targeting older people. Whilst Uber and Airbnb are better known, (with 35% of Airbnb hosts in Sydney aged over 50), there are many more options to consider.
Over 100 platforms are now operating in Australia, across a broad range of markets; including food and hospitality, training, art and design, technology, real estate, transport, entertainment, domestic, health, professional and employment services. Here is a link to our website, IncomeConnection, which lists out the 100 options or platforms to for you to browse through.
Working in this way ticks the ‘positive work’ box; providing structure, achievement and community connection. What is different versus employment is that you generally need to get an Australian Business Number (ABN). You also need to read the fine print, such as who is responsible for insurance.
Some people like the flexibility; you can turn the work off and on. One client is working three days a week in her career occupation of marketing through one of these platforms. As it’s not a permanent job, she can stop it at any time to pursue one of her other interests or change it for something else.
For others it is a segue to starting a small business without the up-front capital. One client used a platform to turn a food passion into an income stream. With many platforms in the creative space, some people sell their product or service on one of these platforms to test the market before establishing a small business.
Sharing Map event March 2018 in Sydney, one of many community events around the world
Some people set up a side-gig while still working in their career job, in order to experiment with an idea that they want to develop more fully once retired.
Another client used these platforms to set up an income when moving to a regional location, as she had left behind her usual source of work.
Despite work’s negative connotations, we are seemingly hardwired to do some sort of ‘work’. The challenge for us then is to bring the good things about work into our retirement.
For more ideas on working after ‘retirement’ you might enjoy these posts:
One of the challenges of being retired can be maintaining a sense of relevance. Sadly, for some, perhaps more particularly those who have had high profile careers, relevance deprivation syndrome can set in. If that’s you, it’s time to find new meaning after your retirement.
So what is relevance deprivation syndrome and are you suffering from it?
Apparently the term was coined by ex Federal Minister Gareth Evans when he made his transition to the Lower House and then into Opposition. For him it described a situation where he found it difficult to get traction for his ideas. In more recent times one could suggest that both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott also suffered from relevance deprivation syndrome.
It’s easy to see then, that if you have held a position (paid or otherwise) where you have had significant influence and actual or perceived power, it might not feel very comfortable to suddenly lose that power. If you ‘are your job’ whether that be as a CEO or a Mother of a busy household, what do you do when that role is no longer available to you? What if you retire from your CEO/management position (or even worse lose your job) or you suddenly find yourself an empty nester. And consider that it is entirely possible that both those events could occur in close proximity to each other.
Some think that relevance deprivation is a pejorative label in the sense of ‘the bigger they are the harder they fall’, but I don’t see it that way. I see the syndrome as very real for many of us who find ourselves having difficulty finding meaning after retirement.
I have seen it in myself and in Rowan, and indeed in some close friends (but not all). Maybe it’s that the phone doesn’t ring as much, the email inbox isn’t full of requests for your expertise and assistance. Whilst you might well have been very much looking forward to retirement, you might also find that the empty days drag on and you feel bored and possibly depressed.
One of the likely outcomes is that the person experiencing relevance deprivation will almost desperately begin seeking ways to fill their days and regain a sense of self importance (or more kindly, self worth). We all need to have a sense of self worth and meaning, so that behaviour is entirely understandable. However, this is generally not the best approach.
Why do I say that? Well, it is quite likely one plunges into activities, volunteers, joins committees and begins to flex one’s muscles. There are two issues with this; first you are likely to annoy those who were there before you joined, and secondly you may just be filling your time with activities that don’t have much meaning for you.
Tips for finding meaning after retirement
The first thing you will need to do is re-orient your sense of relevance. In simplistic terms you need to make yourself relevant in new ways. Start with determining what it really was that work gave you. Money of course, but what else, where was the value for you? Self worth, creativity, connection, authority, relevance? Take some time to make your own list. You might find it helpful to use the Wheel of Life as a checklist to look at all the areas of life.
Retirement is a great opportunity to reinvent your life
If status and power were the primary things work gave you, then you will be challenged in retirement if you continue to seek these. You will need to change your world view. No longer will your network be one where you stand at or near the top with a team reporting up to you. Instead it will look more like this:
You will no longer be able to exert power in the same way and you will need to behave like a peer and use influence rather than power. Be aware too, that if you step into a pre-existing organisational structure your attempts at influencing may not be appreciated. Humility and willingness to learn will be much more highly regarded.
Then consider whether those attributes that were positive in your previous role still serve you; or perhaps you need to find new ways to have a sense of purpose and meaning. Listen hard to your inner voice, what is it telling you? If you are hearing words such as ‘you’re washed up’, or ‘I’m better than all of them so I can show them which way is up’, then it is time to change your internal dialogue. Disengage the ego and engage your heart and soul.
Find meaning by opening your mind to new possibilities
Far better to put these words in place ‘I may no longer be in xyz role, but I know I still have value, I just need to take some time to figure out how best to deploy my skills’ and ‘I no longer have power due to my title but I can still positively affect the world around me, I just need to take it slowly and try a few things’.
It’s time to rebuild your identity, to acknowledge that you are no longer a CEO, Team Leader, etc., despite these being your dominant identities to date. It used to be that men in particular left work and died shortly afterwards due to the sense of relevance deprivation. These days there are so many more opportunities to find relevance – grab those opportunities with both hands.
One of the first things you should do is limit how much time you spend talking about the past glories of your illustrious career, perfect children etc. That tends to be repetitive and boring and sounds, frankly, egotistical. It also locks you into the past and meanwhile the present and the future are there for you to work with and towards.
Create a new plan
What skills do you have? How might you utilise those in retirement. Make a list of your skills and get creative with ways to use them. Brainstorm with your friends or family. Look for ways you can maintain a sense of relevance without the career you once had. Allow this to be a time of expansion rather than believing it to be a time of contraction. We prefer the term re-wirement rather than retirement – you may be retiring from work but you don’t need to retire from life.
What balance of activities do you want? Do you want to fill every day or do you want to move at a slower pace? Do you need flexibility to travel, visit family, attend to superannuation etc? Don’t over commit yourself, but don’t under commit yourself either, time management is still important in retirement.
Above all else, retirement is a time to find true happiness
Try some new things – join an art class, join a gym, volunteer in several different organisations (tell them you are not ready to fully commit yet), set up a coffee group with like minded others, plan some extended travel, make a priority of regular contact with friends and family, start a vegetable garden, join U3A, go back to University. Allow yourself to fail. Ideally, begin to create new networks before you retire, but it isn’t too late post retirement. Be proactive and reach out to friends and family and also create new relationships. Get social, one of the things we tend to miss most in retirement is social interaction and social interaction is increasingly being recognised as a key contributor to healthy ageing.
Revisit the Wheel of Life and look at which areas of your life might have been neglected during your working years. If you have had a big career, there is a good chance your relationships have suffered. Is it time to nurture those you love? Do be aware that if your partner is already at home when you retire, you will need to work on creating a new routine which works for both of you. Don’t expect them to take you along to everything or to sit at home with you, or necessarily join in all your activities. Look for a mix of independent and shared activities that works for you both.
Bring yourself into the here and now and if necessary rebuild your life from the ground up. You have the perfect time and opportunity to do that. Get excited about the possibilities.
Have you experienced relevance deprivation? Have you seen it in others? What tools have you found useful to create new meaning in retirement?