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.
You may have heard the term “age friendly communities and asked yourself what is an “age friendly community” and perhaps also, do I care? As we at RetiringNotShy! rail a bit against ageing, do we care ’cause we’re “ageing”? The answer may be like the curates egg.
In this article, we’ll provide some background and some thoughts on Age Friendly Communities.
“One million people worldwide turn 60 every month; 80% of these live in developing countries”, the number of older persons (60+) will have doubled since 2006 from 600 million to 1.2 billion by 2025, and again, to 2 billion by 2050. [do you have a link to this reference- always good to link out to a credible source]
That’s an exponential increase and enough to cause the whole of society to look closely at where we are and where we might be in the all-too-near future. Clearly, these figures include developing countries, but in this post we will focus on our more immediate 1st world surroundings.
That said, given we now know this, is it okay to ignore what will become the increasing plight of ageing in developing countries? The answer is “NO”! Our hope is that some of the principles we may examine will, in principle, apply to other communities.
What is an Age Friendly Community?
The Global Age-friendly Cities Guide proposes eight interconnected domains that can help to identify and address barriers to the well-being and participation of older people.
In a general sense it would be fair to say that an age friendly community also dovetails into several other groups that socially progressive thinkers are trying to incorporate into broad policy and operational frameworks for our communities.
For instance, younger people and the handicapped; a simple example of this is the accessibility of public transport. The age friendliness of a community should be far from just providing exclusive facilities for the aged; as prudent public expenditure would dictate the greatest value for the greatest number, like public transport.
There will undoubtedly be areas of highly directed policy frameworks that would facilitate meeting the demand for, say, accommodation for the aged: this is required through all socio-economic profiles. From simply providing for older people without their own accommodation resources i.e. social or public housing, all the way through to highly specialised aged care facilities, usually, but not exclusively, provided through the private sector as Nursing Homes. This range of considerations may appear self-evident but must be promoted through effective urban planning frameworks.
Ensuring isolation is not the result of planning for age friendly accommodation is critical; ghettoes for the “aged”are not the solution. Furthermore, how much better would this planning be if these issues also had a multigenerational aspect to them. Why could we not construct aged specialised housing in close proximity to schools to open the door to visitation by some older people to the school, possibly fulfilling valuable volunteer functions like reading/story telling/ mentoring for the school and the children. Likewise, an appreciation of the older folk in our community by reciprocal activities by the children in visiting aged care facilities?
In this sense we see that the age friendliness is not as a fiscal burden, but a mutually advantageous symbiotic relationship across our communities to the benefit of several groups, all at once. Costing not a jot more, but providing great value all through some expansive, inclusive thinking.
Well located exercise option with easy access via level footpaths and hard standingsImplementing the Age Friendly Community Framework
Outdoor spaces and buildings — seniors live in an environment that includes open spaces, buildings, shaded areas and walkways that are safe and easy to navigate
Transport — seniors can get out and about, using a range of affordable, user friendly transport services
Housing — seniors housing options are affordable, accessible and close to transport and community services
Social participation — seniors are supported to be active in their community, doing the things they enjoy
Respect and social inclusion — seniors from all backgrounds are valued and appreciated, and no one is excluded based on race, geography. culture, language, gender, sexuality, ability or socioeconomic status
Civic participation and employment — seniors participate in employment, training, lifelong learning and volunteering opportunities, and inform government policies
Communication and information — seniors access information they need in a variety of formats to stay informed and connected with their communities, families and friends
Community support and health services — seniors are helped to stay healthy, active and independent through community support and health services, including services responding to elder abuse, fraud or exploitation.
Co-located community facilties make for an age friendly community
As our towns and cities vary substantially in Australia, it is difficult to be too formulaic and prescribe a “one-size-fits-all” model. What is evident is that effective “aged-friendly” actions rely on activity engaging a number of elements:
Open communication with the local aged community, that will enable realistic expectations to be set for all concerned.
State and Regional planning needs to encompass broad “age-friendly”considerations.
Local Government (Councils) community strategic plans and priorities must be set and transparent.
Land use and transport planning needs to be thoroughly involved.
With a mix of public and private operations, civic as well as commercial activities to be considered, it is essential that all elements be brought together at the same planning table. It is evident that no matter how well-meaning some plans may be, without across-the-board cooperation and agreement within communities, success may be limited.
Failure of at least medium-term planning, mismatched resourcing and a lack of coordinated support and actions amongst stakeholders may skew the desired outcomes.
Is it that hard to create an age friendly environment, and why put in the effort?
As with many issues which compete in the busy landscape that is local government planning, it’s a matter of being heard. Often a voice is muffled by considerations that look like a single sector in a community is pushing a selfish agenda which excludes others. Let’s face it, if one group “gets it’s way” others will miss out in a world of competing resource demands. And yes, striking the appropriate balance is always the hard question. Being heard as an older person can be difficult due to some inbuilt ageist attitudes.
Well planned and level pathways provide access to a library and other community services
As mentioned earlier, many age-friendly initiatives also serve much broader parts of our communities. Furthermore, the statistics that may drive these actions would suggest that a failure to listen and plan will result in an increasingly larger sector of our communities ultimately becoming isolated; that growth appears inevitable. These days, our communities could drown in statistics about age profiles, living circumstances, development growth opportunities etc, etc. These are, however, all fact based and trends are obvious (although never guaranteed), but we are not flying blind.
The conclusion is that, no, it’s not that hard and the effort is worthwhile. The elements of effective planning vs. allowing “the market” to decide, seem a no brainer, because there is much more to the issue than money.
Seems to me that this issue is also about maintaining and fostering an integrated multi-generational society where the benefits of the wisdom of old age meet the vibrancy and energy of youth.
Mosquitos of the world unite – together we can make a difference!
Looking at the news on television quite often frightens me. All the pain, anguish, and hardship can sometimes be too much to bear. We see our beautiful environment being destroyed, injustices occurring in all parts of our world, and people being mistreated and exploited in ways that are unimaginable to us. We see men, women and children being enslaved in jobs like agriculture, construction, manufacturing, domestic work, and the commercial sex industry. They live with threats of physical or sexual violence towards themselves and their families, isolation, denial of food and sleep, and no freedom. Our hearts break, but we just don’t know what we can do to help.
Just like the mosquito, your actions have an impact
So, what on earth does a mosquito have to do with making a difference in this crazy, confused world we live in? Well let’s look no further than the words of the Dalai Lama – “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” No thank you, that would drive me mad! Each and every one of us can make a difference. It’s when our efforts are combined that we can make an impact in this world. Never discount the power of one!
Some simple steps towards living a more ethical lifestyle
Well you ask, what can I personally do to make a difference? Let’s build on the example of modern slavery above. Modern slavery can impact every aspect our daily lives because the industries where people are most likely to be enslaved and exploited produce many of the goods that we use every day; like the coffee we drink, the chocolate we eat, and the clothes we wear. By choosing not to purchase products that have been made by slaves, we can begin to make a difference through the law of supply and demand. If we stop demand through not purchasing these products, then supply of them will reduce as we will have a negative impact on the profits of the supplier, manufacturers and brands. Additionally, if we start purchasing products that are fair-trade and free from slavery;s demand and supply of these products will increase. This is the purchasing power we as individuals have – pretty awesome really!
Buying ethically sourced coffee beans is an easy way to be more sustainableMore sustainable living examples
The same goes for environmental issues too. It’s Plastic Free July right now and you’ve probably seen a lot about it in traditional and social media telling us what we can do in our own lives to reduce plastics and stop them going into the oceans and landfill. For example, if we stop buying our coffee in take-away cups and start using our own refillable keep-cups, demand for the take-away cups will eventually reduce and there will be less of them manufactured and subsequently less ending up as litter and waste.
We all can make a difference by living an ethical life and making considered, caring, and compassionate decisions.
It’s never too late to start making better choices, and often they will also be good for your finances too. First, before you buy something, ask yourself if you really need it? (this is where values based budgeting comes in). Can you possibly borrow it from a friend or perhaps repurpose something you already own?
It’s so easy to just say “Let’s get a new one” but where does the old one end up? Most likely in landfill and destroying our earth and oceans. Ask yourself if you really need to keep consuming, getting more and more things, and contributing to this disposable society? I’m guessing the answer is no!
Next have a look at what you have in your home right now. Do you really need everything? Could a family member, a friend, or even a stranger benefit from some of your stuff? Now I’m not recommending you go all minimalist on me because I actually like a home that has trinkets, photographs, and memories in it, but let’s face it, some of are good at hoarding things and keeping them just in case. But does that day ever come? Probably not, so if you haven’t used it in the last year and it’s not a treasured possession, then seriously think about giving it to someone who might need it more. Try these tips for decluttering.
Are your clothing choices ethical and sustainable?Thoughtful clothing choices can make a positive ethical impact
Even though our clothing style changes after we retire, we still enjoy dressing nicely and buying new clothes. However, there are some things we can do to dress in a more ethical way. First look at what you already have in your wardrobe. Can it be worn again this year or perhaps updated by wearing it with a new scarf? Take some time to consider what you already own and be creative in restyling it to suit this season’s look. Buy from suppliers that have taken concrete steps to improve the lotof their workers; Adrift Clothing is a good example of just that. Consider also looking at quality second-hand clothing or charity shops for your clothing purchases. By doing this you are contributing to the circular economy by buying clothing that has already been manufactured and worn and now will have a new lease of life in your wardrobe! And whilst you are at it, do think about whether or not the fabrics in your garments are sustainable, if you are not sure, there is lots of information on the web; polyester is a particularly bad choice.
Making sustainable food choices
On the food front, if possible, buy your fruit and vegetables seasonally and locally if possible. Remember when we’d only get watermelon in summer and strawberries in winter? Now we can buy everything all year round. I don’t think it really tastes the same as it used to and there’s nothing to look forward to if it’s always available throughout the year. Do you agree? Get back to buying fruit and vegetables in bulk when they’re in season. Make your own jams and pickles. If you don’t know how to, have a look for YouTube ‘how to’ videos or enrol in a local class. Nothing tastes better than homemade!
Buying and preserving seasonal produce can be both ethical and cost saving
Of course, there’s a lot more you can do to live an ethical life each and every day. I hope we all, like the mosquito, can make changes in our own lives to live and purchase products that positively influence the lives and wellbeing of others and our environment.
Do you find it easy to make ethical lifestyle choices? Which areas do you struggle with? What tips would you add to Judith’s?
Curvy Swimwear by Capriosca meets your swimwear and resort wear needs whether you are heading off to the beach, going on a tropical holiday or lazing by your pool. Or perhaps you are an active swimmer and want serviceable swimwear? Capriosca has your needs covered.
Even though I grew up in the dry inland of New South Wales I have always had a love of the water. Not so much the slushy and muddy dam near our house; I think I only once trod in the silty edges and that was enough. But on a hot Friday night after a day in town shopping, it was always a treat for our family to have a picnic dinner by the municipal pool and a swim before making the 45 minute journey home. I still remember the excitement, and of course the distinct smell of chlorine. And perhaps some of my favourite memories are of family holidays at the iconic Bondi Beach where I loved to frolic in the shallows and roll in the sand (poor Mum!).
These days poolside is where you will find me during summer and tropical holidays and I love wearing comfortable and stylish swimwear, whether lounging by our pool, out and about in Australia, or overseas. Enter Curvy Swimwear, the sister brand to Capriosca Swimwear, offering beautiful and stylish plus size swimwear and resort wear.
The Curvy Swimwear and Resort Wear Range by Capriosca Swimwear
This beautiful swimwear and resort wear range is designed in Australia and offers a stunning array of beautiful prints in designs to suit every body. Whether you are a keen lap swimmer, or prefer to lounge by the pool sipping a cocktail and looking stylish, there is something for you in this range. And of course there is resort wear perfect for taking you from beach to bar (or pool to bar).
Capriosca Swimwear Cotton Kaftan in White
The Curvy Swimwear range offers sizes 10-30, so whether you are a bikini wearer, a tankini wearer, a one piece wearer or a rashie wearer, there is a plus size swimming costume for you. There are styles to suit all body shapes and the range also offers shelf bras and underwires for those of us who are more busty. If your weight is unevenly distributed you can select a tankini or bikini top in one size (using your bra size) and a bottom in another size; the options are endless and many of the prints and plains mix together beautifully. And for the younger woman there is also swimwear for maternity wear.
Let’s talk about body image and curvy swimwear
I know, I know you really don’t feel comfortable in swimwear and that’s why you are staying out of the water. Well I am 65, I have belly rolls and I have loads of cellulite, but I will not feel hot and miserable in our summers, and I will not miss out on the fun and relaxation of being in the water.
We really need to ‘get over ourselves’ in that regard. As we reach our middle years and beyond, life becomes short and it’s time to embrace every opportunity and (legal) experience. It’s time to get in the swim with our friends and family, to laugh and hoot and have fun. If you have any doubts about this, take a look at what the European women wear on the beach. Large or small, young or old, you will find them wearing bikinis or two pieces, enjoying life and not giving a damn what anyone else thinks, I seriously don’t think that even enters their minds. Why are we so precious to our own detriment?
If you are a little body conscious there are still great options for you, like the swim dresses and bike pant bottoms, but really, don’t feel compelled to cover up. A better option, if you really feel the need, is to add a sarong if you have to dash to the front door or want to grab a coffee or a drink whilst at the beach.
The truth is, nobody is really watching you, only you are focussed on your ‘imperfections’. Instead put your focus on having fun, and being fun to be around.
Why the Curvy Swimwear range should be on your shopping list
This range has been carefully curated to deal with the realities of life, offering many features that will delight you.
Sun safe swimwear
Of course some of us have very fair skin and don’t want to risk sunburn and that is a real consideration. Even with my somewhat olive skin I need to take care of my skin, particularly my shoulders, back and chest areas (and of course my face). The Curvy Swimwear range includes both rashie vests like the one I am wearing below as well as swimsuits that provide excellent shoulder cover but leave your arms bare. And to protect your beautiful face there is a range of sun visors in gorgeous prints. Of course no matter what you wear, don’t forget your sun screen.
Capriosca Swimwear Geo Stripe Long Sleeve Rashie with Navy High Waist PantChlorine resistant swimwear
Whether you are the sporty type who loves to swim laps, or like me and a big fan of the backyard pool or spa, you need to select chlorine resistant swimwear. (I was a bit shocked several years ago when I purchased some swimwear which said I shouldn’t wear it in the sun, in chlorinated water or pretty much anywear else). Curvy Swimwear offers a huge range of chlorine resistant cossies in a variety of styles, including several which are lap swimming friendly but still eminently stylish.
Post Mastectomy Swimwear
If you have had a mastectomy you may be even more body conscious. Capriosca have thought of that too, and they have many styles ideal for post mastectomy wearing. Removable mastectomy pouches are included in much of their swimwear. To find out more about the options why not pop online and use the Chat feature to get advice on what will work best for you.
Caring for your Capriosca Swimwear
Even if you don’t swim in chlorinated water (but particularly if you do) it is essential that you take good care of your swimwear to prolong its life. Always rinse your swimwear after wearing; I do this in the shower and then hang my cossie there to dry. Spas and heated pools are not ideal for swimwear, just like you wouldn’t wash them in a hot wash, so do be aware that using those will shorten the life of your swimwear. Once rinsed hang your swimwear inside or in a shady spot (don’t roll it up and don’t dry it in the hot sun). Also take care to not sit on rough surfaces as they can snag the fabric.
Swimming or exercising in water is one of the gentlest exercises we can participate in. When our body is supported by the water we are able to exercise with much less stress on our joints whilst also getting the benefit of the resistance provided by the water – double points for that right?
It’s time to ditch your negative body talk, source yourself a beautiful swimsuit and embrace life. You may even find yourself having a giggle like I was here.
Capriosca Swimwear Navy Dots Tankini and Navy High Waist Pant
Want to know more about personal style for mature women, or needing a style confidence boost? Let me help you with my tips for getting up and getting dressed.
Do you feel confident in swimwear or are you more likely to stay on the shore? What features do you look for in swimwear? Ocean, pool, or both, what is your preference?
At some stage of our lives most of us will need to consider aged care options, for ourselves or for family members. To say this is a daunting process is an understatement; both navigating the government support and working out which is the best service, can be time consuming, confusing and expensive.
[This post was written in collaboration with Aged Care Prepare]
It might be that you or a family member need to go into residential aged care, or are requiring home care services. Perhaps there is a need for respite care, either in home or in aged care accommodation. Each of those comes with its own issues to be considered. In many cases you may need to transition between services, which can mean a repeated, multifaceted search for the right services and advice
Our journey with multiple aged care services – it wasn’t simple.
We have faced a lot of these issues within our family. A family member was initially living in her own home with home support services from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Home Care. Her son had worked with her to secure her DVA pension and the associated services. Living remotely, this provided us with a level of comfort as did the nearby presence of a cousin, as well as her very good friend across the road.
But the time came when this family member needed to move into a care facility and the search was made for accommodation close to her community.
It was assessed that hostel accommodation was the most suitable move and so her home was packed up and she was moved into her own room in a local hostel. At this stage the family began having to navigate the various costs and government assistance packages. To say this was a tangled web is an understatement, and of course the Refundable Accommodation Deposit was substantial.
Sadly, as is often the case, it was eventually found that higher care was needed. At this stage respite care was required whilst nursing home accommodation was secured. As the lead time for this change was very short, there was a scramble to secure this respite care and it was located quickly but in a very inconvenient and remote location.
We found too that during this process everyone had an opinion, many of which were well intentioned but not exactly helpful. It was difficult to sort the wood from the trees.
Aged care choices can be confusing
Ultimately the family member was moved to a nursing home closer to her local area and she lived her last days in that location, but the level of stress generated for family members during those years was immense.
What is aged care and what services are available in Australia?
The Productivity Commission has described aged care as: “A range of services required by older persons (generally 65 years and over (or 50 years and over for Indigenous Australians)) with a reduced degree of functional capacity (physical or cognitive) and who are consequently dependent for an extended period of time on help with basic activities of daily living. Aged care is frequently provided in combination with basic medical services (such as help with wound dressing, pain management, medication, health monitoring), prevention, reablement or palliative care services).”
On average around 40 percent of older people require assistance as they age. Much of this assistance is provided by family members, friends or neighbours, though most older people (80 percent) will use some form of government-funded aged care in their lifetime.
Are you able to provide in home care for a family member?
From that very broad description of aged care we can drill down to the various options available, and this is where it can get incredibly confusing and stressful. Broadly the options are:
Home care services – for older people who are able to continue living independently in their own homes with support, the Commonwealth Government provides assistance through the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and Home Care Packages. This assistance includes nursing, personal care, cleaning, help with preparing meals, shopping, home maintenance and other tasks. At-home support is funded by the Australian Government with a contribution paid by the consumer depending on their financial circumstances. Sadly you need to be aware that the demand for home care services in Australia is currently exceeding supply. That makes planning ahead even more important.
In home or residential respite care – respite care is by its nature short-term and is designed to support carers at times when they are unable to provide care, or when they need a break. Respite care may be provided for a few hours, a few days or longer, but is not designed as a replacement for permanent home based or residential care services.
Transition care – transition care is for older people who have been in hospital and need additional help as part of their recovery at home. The Transitional Care Program provides short-term care such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, nursing support or personal care after a hospital stay.
Residential aged care – nursing home. This is available for various levels of services in accordance with the needs of the service recipient. As per our experience it may be necessary at some stage to transition from one level of care to another. Residential aged care includes accommodation, meals, laundry, personal care and nursing assistance. The costs of residential aged care are subject to a means test. The outcome of this means test will determine how much you have to contribute to your care, and how much the government will subsidise your care.
What are the financial issues around residential and other forms of aged care?
If you then overlay the various financial circumstances on these options it becomes even more of a quagmire, and it essential that you fully understand your options and commitments. These will vary according to your/your loved ones situation.
Is there a DVA pension involved, or a Commonwealth Aged Pension, is the aged care recipient a self-funded retiree? Your specific circumstances will need to be determined to allow the correct aged care solution to be found within the applicable financial situation.
It is important to plan aged care options in advance.
In order to access aged care services in Australia and to understand the associated costs it will be necessary for you to have an Aged Care Assessment completed (ACAT assessment). Thus begins the myriad of paperwork and legal issues you will need to come to terms with.
Where to find help in understanding the Aged Care system in Australia
If you are feeling confused by now (and why wouldn’t you be!) you have the option of doing your own research and starting from the bottom to work through the various service options and their costs, from getting through an ACAT assessment to choosing the right service and level of care for your situation. Or the much easier alternative is to utilise a single point of contact which summarises all of the options available.
Is residential aged care on the horizon for a family member
Be aware too that the aged care landscape is constantly changing and your preferred services might not be readily available in your chosen area. All the more reason to have an expert in your corner.
If we had to make these decisions all over again I know which option I would choose, how about you?
For those not in need of care services other living options in retirement may be a retirement village or manufactured home park. Read about those possibilities and pitfalls.
Have you needed to navigate aged care services in Australia? What was your experience? What would have made the experience easier for you?
Is house sitting part of your retirement plan? It’s a great way to see the world and experienced international house sitter Vanessa Anderson shares her tips for getting started. Read more about Vanessa at the end of this post.
Why consider house sitting
Is it your dream to retire early? Do you mull over ways to make this happen, only to slip back into your humdrum life – working to pay off the mortgage and get the kids through college? All the while enjoying those occasional holidays, but essentially stuck in the trap of materialism, with no easy way out anytime soon?
My hand is up in the air – that was me too a while back!
Why I chose to retire earlier by house sitting
Tied to an energy sapping business in the UK, I worked long days and weekends, and the idea of any kind of retirement seemed a far distant pipe dream. Rather ironically, my small giftware distribution company was termed “a lifestyle business”.
On reflection I’m not sure the “lifestyle” ever materialized!
Although not how I saw it at the time, what happened next was a blessing in disguise. Divorce and the subsequent closure of the business dictated that at the age of 50, I would have to pick myself up and start again. Happy to find my skills were still in demand, I was soon heading to a new job in London. Not easy after 20 years of self-employment, but my confidence was hugely boosted by at least securing full-time employment.
However, my dreams of early retirement were diminishing more. I had a little equity from the house sale, a small private pension not yet accessible, and the government had raised the statutory retirement age yet again. But in my new adaptable life, things were about to change… again.
Within a year I had met my new partner who had found an expat retirement community in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Ian was attracted to the area by the expat living expenses in Bocas, which were among the lowest in the world at that time.
My steps to becoming a house sitterStep 1 – Becoming an expat in Panama
While living in Panama with Ian, I first heard about house sitting. In a region where you can’t leave property safely unattended, it’s common practice to use local sitters. They look after the property and take care of the expat, jungle and rescue dogs living at these island homes.
This is the perfect solution for travelling expats and retirees. We could now leave home for three months at a time to visit family and friends, travel, and renew our visas, all the while knowing that our island home and jungle pup were being cared for by other pet lovers. It didn’t cost anything either – we provided a home and paid the utilities (often for sailors moored up for the hurricane season), and they took care of everything, happy to be on land for a while.
Step 2 – Becoming a house sitter
More and more of us have an urge to travel these days, and have an insatiable hunger for experience, culture, meaningful connections and global encounters. This is especially so in retirement, but it is then that there’s often less money available to experience all these things you have worked your life to finally enjoy.
Neither of us had huge savings, but with my property equity we had enough to get by, and it wasn’t long before Ian put his property up for sale too. Then we had one of those “light bulb” moments when we suddenly realized how we could also benefit from the house sitting lifestyle.
Ian and pup in Mexico
With both properties sold and no accommodation costs our money would go much, much further! There would be enough to buy flights, pay for living expenses, etc., with some careful budgeting.
We set about researching online and quickly learned that we would need some genuine references from completed house sits. We offered our services locally among our expat community in Bocas. Was anyone going on a visa run? Would a short break be welcome if someone could look after the home and pets?
It wasn’t long before our first sits were booked and we had some all important reviews to give us credibility while looking after off-grid properties in a challenging environment! Taking these local sits also gave us a reality check – it made sure that house sitting worked for us. Not everyone finds it easy to live in someone else’s home, following somebody else’s routines and instructions.
The view from our first house sitting experience in Panama
But we loved it and could see how this trust-based exchange would help us transition into semi-retirement by substantially reducing our monthly outgoings . Not only that, we would still be living in comfortable houses with the company of pets – home-from-home without all the expenses! It’s amazing how little you need to live on when you don’t have the cost of a mortgage, rent, utilities, property tax, etc.
Step 3 – Funding our travel expenses
Our hope was that by 55 we would have enough savings and a residual income from various projects to sustain our semi-retirement lifestyle.
To supplement our travel funds we decided to spend a year teaching in China, where we earned a high income coupled with more low cost living. We continued teaching online after leaving China. Just 30 hours a month each was enough to pay our travel and living expenses while we began our house sitting adventures around the world.
Now we’ve been on the road for five years, travelling and house sitting full-time and are successfully semi-retired. Our savings and retirement income go so much further. We do get a small income by producing the FREE online publication House Sitting Magazine, but that arose out of our passion for this lifestyle. Neither of us are quite ready to give up work completely, and we’ve found something we LOVE to do, when we want to do it!
It’s been a journey. We’ve had failures and successes around earning a remote income. But isn’t that part of life? Out of 60 sits we’ve had a couple that weren’t so good – but overall we think our semi-retirement lifestyle beats our previous life hands-down!
Step 4 – Bringing it all together!
Not everyone wants to fill their days with routines that tie them to the animals they are caring for. And not everyone loves pets in the way we do. House sitting comes with undeniable responsibilities and you need to consider these carefully. You really do need to enjoy taking care of, and spending time with, the pets – this is the number one reason why people use house and pet sitters.
We create balance by mixing house sitting with our “once-in-a-lifetime” travel adventures. In between house sits we’ve spent a month exploring Cuba. We experienced an awesome mobile safari in the Okavango Delta in Africa, slept under the stars in Botswana’s vast salt pans, and enjoyed a memorable trip to Victoria Falls. We learned to sail in Thailand and then chartered a yacht for a couple of weeks to sail down through the Grenadines after completing a house sit in the Caribbean.
Sailing in the Caribbean after house sitting there
By house sitting the rest of the time, being careful with travel costs and budgeting well for our living expenses, we have been able to use the savings on accommodation to pay for all of these wonderful adventures. If something extra-special comes up, we’ll happily use our savings fund.
There are many ways to combine house sitting with your retirement income. Some people sell-up for complete freedom, while others rent out their property while travelling, or use sitters themselves. Your monthly retirement income may be plenty to fund your travels but with house sitting your money can take you away for longer – slow travel at its best. There really are many ways to achieve the same result.
So how do I get started as a house sitter?
There are 4 reputable international house sitting platforms:
TrustedHousesitters is the largest, so has the most opportunities
Nomador is good too, and has a lot of European sits
HouseCarers was the first ever house sitting platform – very professional
HouseSitMatch is smaller but less competitive, good for newcomers
Then you’ll find any number of smaller regional or country based sites. Take a look at this comparison article for more information.
The websites do charge a signup fee for sitters ranging from $50 to $120. But this is an annual charge, and if you weigh this up against your accommodation savings, it really is a small price to pay.
Once you find the right house sitting platform for you it’s simply a case of preparing a really compelling profile and building your references. Then start applying!
Where can I house sit; house sitting jobs for retirees
You’ll find opportunities all over the world. The UK, USA, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Central America are all popular house sitting destinations. But as word spreads, and more expat retirement communities grow, other areas are opening up to this wonderful trust-based exchange that benefits everyone – the homeowners, the pets and you!
I’ve made it sound easy, and in reality there’s a bit more to it if you want to be super successful and guarantee ongoing sits and even repeat sit offers. There’s so much information available online, and the platforms mentioned above all have great resources, tips and guidance on getting started. House Sitting Magazine has some great free getting started guides too.
If you don’t mind sharing your space with pets, and setting time aside for some daily tasks, then this may be the answer to making your retirement money go further. Do some research, learn the basics, and get yourself started. We hope house sitting helps you see more of the world, in the way that you want to in your retirement.
Vanessa and Ian publishers of House Sitting Magazine
Vanessa Anderson is a full-time international house sitter, blogger and the publisher of House Sitting Magazine. She and her partner Ian have been fully nomadic and semi-retired since 2013, travelling and looking after pets all over the world. You will also find Vanessa in the “House Sitting Magazine Facebook Group” where she advises and answers questions about house sitting and nomadic living.
Are you considering a home renovation? Choosing where to live in retirement is so important and one of your options is to remodel your existing home so that you can age in place. We share our tips on managing a renovation, be that in an existing home or a new purchase.
Why consider a home renovation?
Unless your home is already exactly as you want it you may be beginning to think about remodelling it, perhaps so that you can age in place. Or you may be moving into a new home and wanting to ‘make it your own’.
We have been a bit fussy I suppose, but it is nice to have things the way you would like them and make some liveability changes if your property and financial situation affords you that possibility.
Have a look at your proposed new home (purchased or in prospect) or your existing home and consider any changes you may like to make. Get some advice from a builder on possibilities and estimated renovation costs. Don’t just assume the changes you might like to make, simple as they may seem, are going to be easy or cheap. Bless you if they are. Check guidelines such as these when considering costs.
Planning your renovation
Think carefully about timeframes and when would you like your work done. Discuss with all concerned, starting with remodelling designers, and try to be flexible and provide some slack. Tight timeframes are usually a recipe for disaster or extreme expense.
If you can avoid a project finish just before Christmas, that would be wise. Everyone wants to be ready “by Christmas”, which becomes a difficult period for trades and suppliers leading up to their Christmas/New Year shut down. If you miss that deadline you will then be in the nether nether period in Australia of summer holidays until February.
Ageing in place considerations for your design
One of your main reasons for wanting to age in place might well be your community and your connections there. That can include not only friendships but also facilities like access to shops, transport, medical facilities and entertainment options. They are all great reasons to stay in your own home.
Keeping that in mind it is time to have a good hard look at your home and decide what changes you need to make. Consider the following:
Is your home multi-level and how will you deal with that over the years ahead? Do you have an option to live downstairs? Do you need to consider adding a stair lift as part of your renovation plans, or at least make provision for it in the future?
Is access wheel chair friendly or at least uncluttered should you or your partner need a walking frame temporarily or permanently?
Are your floors relatively non slip?
Should you put in place an emergency alert system? Do you have the latest technology in place to support these and other online services?
Do you feel safe if you are alone, or is it time to consider a security upgrade as part of your renovation project?
Getting your design right
Start your own deliberations, consult a designer and inform yourself of the implications of what you’re proposing. This is where you need to have a serious look at the ageing in place design aspects of what is being proposed.
If you are happy to put your proposed changes totally into the hands of a designer, without further input from you, be absolutely certain that you have provided them with a very tight brief. My suggestion is to stay on it with a watchful eye if you possibly can.
First, get a copy of your house plans – possibly from your local council – then sit down with a pencil, paper, scalable ruler and an eraser; the latter being most important.
Take plenty of time at the design stage
Play with your design and ask others about it: you may find some great ideas come from unexpected sources. We were given a brilliant idea by my aunt which we were extremely grateful for, and made an extraordinary difference to the presentation and the way we used our home. It’s not just architects who have all the ideas for home renovations.
Do your due diligence and be prepared
Seek local builder/trade references generally, and not just from a designer, friends or neighbours. There are many local Facebook pages (Buy, Swap Sell, Community News/Information etc.) out there where the seeking of trade/builder references is perfectly acceptable. But do be aware of biases in those recommendations.
If you want to “project manage” you need to have a feel for building practices and standards, and be prepared to take out an owner/builder licence. If not, pick a builder who says they will do that and ask for them to outline their project management process and provide example documentation and references.
Get the correct permits and approvals
Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a “by-the-book“ kinda guy and I’m pretty committed to playing by the rules. Make sure you have your ducks lined up, that you understand all the procedural and building processes, and delays, as best you can – that in itself is not always easy.
Are you prepared for structural modifications?
Between getting plans done, engineering clearances, building certification and Council approvals you can burn a lot of time. Bear in mind, if your builder is ethical, they will not start until all the prerequisite paperwork is in place; suggestions of shortcuts or “let’s just do it” should be red flags.
Frustrating as this may be, failure to get all the boxes ticked, could have implications at resale time (even if that’s going to be managed by your Executors), or impact builder warranties.
Manage your renovation costs and ‘cut your cloth’
Make sure you understand what costs are fixed and where there are contingency sums for any “uncertain’ aspects of your work. Also ensure you understand what the builder will supply and what you need to supply e.g. plumbing fittings/taps, toilets/basins/sinks/water filters, lighting etc
Get your quotes in hand and make sure you are working within your budget expectations. If not, work with your designers and builder to trim costs, separating your wants from your needs. Don’t be afraid to tell your builder that you need to trim down a quote – we have found that they can be very good at working this through with you to identify sensible budget trimming.
Out with the old in preparation for home improvements
Items like electrical and more particularly plumbing are big ticket items. If you are moving walls, assure yourself that there is a capacity to move them and understand the consequences. For example, if an internal wall is not structural (this is often the case with more modern houses with truss roofs, shifting a wall in itself is likely a no brainer). If, however, a wall is structural, the expense of making a structurally sound change can involve steel beams and structural support for those beams. It may also mean a change to the look and feel of your design if beams need to be covered with bulkheads etc.
Be prepared for disruption and dust
No matter how careful your builder is your home renovation is going to involve dust. Any demolition, movement of materials and equipment, sawing, concrete cutting, plastering, etc. means dust, dust and more dust. Get furniture out of the way and covered, and as necessary ensure builders are going to use dust extractor fans and equipment and clean up regularly.
Be prepared for noise, dust and disruption
Even If you’re doing internal work, builders can be messy, particularly if it rains. Make it as easy as possible for them to get to their work area with minimum mess. Ask your builder how they will manage this, for example, will they cover your carpets with plastic.
Make sure too that your neighbours are aware that you are planning a renovation and that there will be noise and mess during the works period.
Carefully manage your contract and any variations
Have a contract and make sure that you and the builder sign off on agreed cost variations and phased payments. Not only does this make for easier accounting, but it is a tidier arrangement all round. If you are concerned with finish dates, you can try for Liquidated Damages; do be aware these will be modified in application by weather events.
During the project keep a list of outstanding items (sometimes small fixes can slip the net) and regularly review that with your builder. Despite the roles of your designer and certifier, it is ultimately up to you to make sure your requirements are met.
Breathe a sigh of reliefTime for a celebration after renovating
Ah, now you have your home renovation completed it is time to sit back and relax. Maybe pop a bottle of bubbles and admire what you have achieved. After all our time of life is for enjoyment.
Have you been through a renovation process and did it work well? Did you have a good working relationship with your builder and trades people. Have we turned you off completely or encouraged you to consider a home renovation project?
Will you be a happy empty nester or will you struggle with empty nest depression? Leanne Le Cras shares tips for preparing for and enjoying your empty nest.
Leanne successfully launched her two fledglings several years ago and has written extensively about being an empty nester.
[This is a guest post by Leanne Le Cras who blogs at Cresting the Hill. You can read more about Leanne at the end of this post.]
DEFINING THE EMPTY NEST
For starters, I don’t see a nest as “empty” until all the adult children have left and settled themselves elsewhere. I don’t even consider it truly empty if your “kids” are living a few minutes’ drive away – because they’re going to be popping in and out of your life every few hours/days, and that’s not really the same as being alone in your home with your spouse and maybe a pet or two, for lengthy periods of time. There’s not a lot of adjusting to do if your family is in constant physical contact with you – a nest is truly empty when they are living several hours away and visits are a novelty, not the norm.
PREPARING FOR THE EMPTY NEST
The secret to successful empty nesting is to be prepared. There is nothing worse than being a parent who is overly involved in their children’s lives and then finding yourself alone while they start living somewhere else.
I work with a woman who home-schooled her four children and after they left, she had done nothing to ready herself for all the spare time she would have on her hands. She spends her days missing them, bombarding them with texts, complaining that her husband isn’t filling the empty hours for her, and generally being a sad sack that nobody wants to be around.
Our children can’t stay home forever (thank goodness!) and it’s rarely a surprise when the time comes for them to spread their wings. We knew ours would head off to the city for university somewhere around 18 years old, so we loosened the apron strings gradually leading up to that point.
We made sure they had the skills to look after themselves and began spending time doing things that we enjoyed without them. It’s not difficult because most teenagers don’t want to socialize with their parents – so they’re happy to wave you off on your coffee or movie date.
Take the time to re-discover yourself, your relationships, your friendships, your interests – and then start doing things for yourself in anticipation of being childless in the near future. Make sure you have something to look forward to .
LAUNCHING THE FLEDGLINGS AND AVOIDING EMPTY NEST SYNDROMEAre your chickens ready to leave the nest? How will you feel?
I joined an Empty Nest Facebook group a few years ago and my eyes were opened to the number of women who had created their lives completely around their children and had no idea how to live without their constant presence. The multitude of comments about how “lost” they were and how “sad” they were just amazed me.
How could they not know that this launching would be inevitable? How could they have become so lost and so rudderless? And how much guilt must those poor children feel when their mother is weeping on the phone every time they call? Needless to say, I left the group after a short time because I just couldn’t relate to such desperation and despair.
It’s our job as parents to prepare our children to be independent and confident and able to take on the world. To produce young adults who are fully capable of living away from home, pursuing their studies or their careers, is such a joy for a parent. There is a little bit of heartache involved, but the alternative is having an adult child tied to your side and unable to leave home (“failure to launch” as my children describe it) and that’s not healthy for anyone.
As our teenagers grow we need to loosen the ties, encourage them to stretch and spread their wings, put support into place if it’s needed, and then wave goodbye with a smile on our faces. Letting go is hard, but if it’s done well, they know they can return for visits, for comfort, for the memories, for holidays, or whatever reason suits them – then they can go again and know that all is well with their folks.
Be prepared for your children to leave the nest for their studies or careersTHE POSITIVES OF THE EMPTY NEST
A lot is written about the loneliness of a home without the kids in it, but we’ve found there is a whole new world to be discovered when there’s only the two of us to take into consideration.
We travel more – there’s only two of us to pay for and two lots of travel preferences to consider.
We eat out more – once again, only two meals to pay for and more flexible timeframes to do it in.
We don’t need as much income because we’re only feeding two people and paying power and water bills for two adults (no long, leisurely teenage showers!)
We’re not lying awake in bed waiting for a teenager to come home, or worrying if we hear a siren somewhere nearby (our son was a bit of a rev-head in his teens).
There’s no taxi-ing teenagers around to various sporting or social events.
There’s a lot less noise and drama – no boyfriends to be concerned about, no arguments to referee, no bickering over the television or whose turn it is to do a chore.
There’s a lot less worry – the old “out of sight, out of mind” does play a part once they’re living a few hours away.
LIVING THE REALITY OF THE EMPTY NEST
Life is certainly different without kids around – we do miss them at times, and it takes a bit of adjustment to find your feet again. The house is quiet, there aren’t young people popping in and out, you don’t get to voice your opinion on their life choices any more.
I found it particularly hard to step back when our daughter was married because we’d been so close and then she had someone else in that area of her life. But, that being said, a new normal takes root, you can fight it and be upset and lonely, or you can accept it and find the joys that change can bring with it.
Be prepared for sadness when your adult child marries, but also for joy
Knowing that you built a solid foundation for your adult children and that they’re living productive, vibrant lives is exciting. Seeing them succeed in their careers, find a life partner, establish their homes, become wonderful parents, it’s all such a blessing – and so much more satisfying than if they’d stayed tucked safely away in the family home for life.
Letting go is tough, but choosing to see the positives and making the effort to re-create your own life in anticipation of them leaving, means that it can be a smooth transition and one I highly recommend. If you do it well, the nest will always be somewhere they’re happy to visit – and that makes it all worthwhile.
MORE ON THE EMPTY NEST
If you’re interested in reading more about the empty nest, I’ve written several posts on my blog – if you start with this one, there are links to other posts at the end : Loving the Empty Nest
About Leanne Le Cras
Leanne lives in the beautiful SW of Western Australia and works part-time as a surgeon’s receptionist. Her two children have grown and flown, so she now spends way too much of her spare time blogging about the highlights of Midlife at Cresting the Hill and shares the rest of her leisure time with her husband and two cats.
The joys of travel are endless and as the years go by I am conscious that there is a lot of the world left to see. These 7 favourite travel destinations could easily be added to your list and mine. Or have we missed one of your favourites?
I asked 6 travel bloggers to share their favourite spots and I added one of my own as well. Read on for some vicarious travel pleasure.
Nestled among the Rif Mountains in Morocco’s Spanish-influenced north, Chefchaouen is a town like no other. From the blue-painted walls of the medina, to the muezzin’s calls echoing from minarets around the town, you know you’re somewhere truly unique from the moment you arrive.
Despite being a relatively small town, with a population of around 50,000 people, it is a cosmopolitan hub, with Arabic, French and Spanish spoken regularly in the streets. Of course, there are extra languages spoken by visitors to the area; however, there are still fewer tourists than in many other parts of Morocco, as you have to navigate the local bus system to get there. In such a beautiful location, it won’t stay that way forever though.
Beautiful blue hues in Chefchaouen
Inside the medina, shop keepers call out, offering discounts and assistance with your shopping, with leather handicrafts from Fez, spices (including the local Ras-el-Hanout mix), rugs, brass teapots and glasses, and even henna powders in bright colours standing out boldly from the sky-coloured walls and streets. When you’ve had enough shopping, find a café’s (or your riad’s) rooftop terrace to enjoy a glass of the sweet (and ubiquitous) mint tea, while you look out across the countryside surrounding the town. Walk up into the hills for a different view, and you’ll share the path with sheep, goats, and children, and when you’re hungry, try a slow-cooked tagine or some local homemade pastries.
There are so many reasons to love Chefchaouen. Go see for yourself – just be prepared not to want to come home.
My favourite place in the world has to be Machu Picchu in Peru. I first saw it in a picture in a magazine and knew straight away I had to go.
My first visit (I have been 4 times, I love it that much!!) I did the Inca Trail and as we came up the path and saw Machu Picchu for the first time, my breath was taken away and I cried.
Sometimes people come to Peru and don’t visit Machu Picchu as they say there are too many tourists, but it covers a large area and you can find quieter spots where people who only do the tour with a guide don’t visit.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Another way to get away from the crowds and get some amazing pics, is to either hike Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu (you need to book the tickets ahead). They aren’t easy hikes but are well worth it for the views, and if you go up a bit later in your time slot then you can miss some of the crowds.
Machu Picchu has stolen my heart; the location and views from it are stunning. Even when the fog rolls in, it can seem very mysterious and that makes it even more enchanting.
If you’re dreaming of an African safari, you won’t find one better than a tour of Kenya’s national parks and conservancies. The country offers 25 national parks, 16 national reserves, six marine reserves, and countless private conservancies for visitors to explore.
Southern Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve is, of course, home to one of the greatest wildlife shows on the planet. The Great Migration finds millions of antelopes, wildebeest, zebras, and other ungulates hoofing it hundreds of miles to the Mara from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. They come in search of food, water, and fertile plains on which to bear their young. But due to decades of human encroachment and poaching, the reserve has seen a 67% to 80% decline in populations of impala, giraffes, and warthogs over the last 30 years.
This is why the community-based initiatives of the Greater Mara Ecosystem have become an increasingly popular option for serious wildlife lovers. The 18,700-acre Ol Kinyei Conservancy, the 33,000-acre Olare Motorogi Conservancy, and the 50,000-acre Naboisho Conservancy are all owned by local Maasai families, then leased to innovative ecotourism companies such as Gamewatchers Safaris.
Porini Lions Masai Mara
Gamewatchers’ upscale, low-impact, Porini Mara and Porini Lion camps have a maximum of 12 tents, each of which funds the protection of 700 acres of habitat. Approximately 95% of their staff– including managers, guides, trackers, and rangers– is from local Maasai communities. And all the families who own the land receive monthly payments from the company. For guests, this creates incredible opportunities to learn from Maasai guides and see a dazzling array of wildlife. In the four days we stayed in the Porini camps, we saw tons of lions (including two kills), two families of cheetahs, countless hyenas, a gorgeous leopard, huge herds of elephants, fighting hippos, grazing giraffes, and dozens of other species of Kenyan wildlife. Best of all, with few other vehicles around, we had most of the sightings to ourselves!
While Ballarat may not be on every traveler’s bucket list when visiting The Land Down Under, it definitely should be and for a number of reasons.
Located between Melbourne and the Grampians National Park, Ballarat is only 1.25 hrs from Melbourne’s Southern Cross train station.
With the help of gold mining back in the 1850s, Ballarat has transformed itself into a city of rich Victorian architecture, which is still on display today, especially alongside Lydiard and Sturt Streets.
The easy going and relaxed atmosphere of this city and its 101,000+ residents can be observed from the plethora of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs in the city’s center.
The stunning architecture in Ballarat
Walk West along Sturt Street and you can’t miss the gorgeous Lake Wendouree, which is home to a large variety of swans, pelicans, ducks and other creatures. Watch sunsets on the lake, have a picnic with the family, take your boat or kayak out or just take a stroll along its 6 km (3.7 mi) circumference with other bikers/runners/joggers.
Finally, visit Ballarat’s number one tourist attraction – an award-winning, open-air museum called Sovereign Hill where you can relive and participate in, the Gold Rush era of this photogenic city.
The Orkney Islands in Scotland is my favourite destination that I have visited so far. The history of this small archipelago is mind blowing.
I love history so any place that has a strong history presence is for me. I remember standing in this one spot and I had the Ring of Brodger (standing stones) just to my left, the Standing Stones of Stenness to my right and just a little bit further down the road is Maeshowe (a Neolithic cairn with Viking graffiti) and the Ness of Brodgar (they are currently running an archaeological dig there as they believe it is the oldest ruins discovered in the area) just a bit further down the road. The history in these couple of kilometres was astounding.
Skara Brae on the Orkney Islands, Scotland
Two other Neolithic discoveries that must be mentioned are Skara Brae, a cluster of preserved houses that date back from roughly 3180 BC to 2500 BC, and the Tomb of the Eagles, another chambered cairn that has a feeling of people from a prehistoric time watching you in a warm and welcoming way.
If you prefer modern history, than you may want to check out Scapa Flow, a body of water that was used during the World Wars. The British Fleet would use Scapa Flow to dock their ships. From the surface you can see blocker ships that were purposely sunk in order to keep the German ships and submarines out of Scapa Flow. I would highly recommend scuba diving on the blocker ships if you get the chance.
Along with all of the above history, the towns of Stromness and Kirkwall have little boutique shops that will make any shopper happy. The Orkneys are definitely a place that I could return to over and over again.
Easter Island is one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands. It is famous for its enigmatic stone statues called the Moai.
The giant Moai were carved by the ancient Rapa Nui civilization that flourished on this island hundreds of years ago. The Moai are shrouded in mystery; what was the purpose of the statues, how were they carved and moved around the island, why were they toppled, what happened to the Rapa Nui people, and many other questions have captivated archeologists and historians since decades. Visiting Easter Island yields the answer to many of these fascinating mysteries and hence it is my favorite travel destination to date.
Moai at Easter Island
Most of the Moai are protected as a part of the Rapa Nui National Park. The nursery Rano Kau where the Moai were carved is an impressive sight. Hundreds of partially buried Moai can be seen here in various stages of completion and transportation. Visitors can also see many Moai erected on platforms all over the island as well as see ruins of ancient Rapa Nui houses.
Apart from the archeological attractions, there are many other things to do on Easter Island including snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking a volcanic crater, biking, and horse riding. The island is a great place to learn about the Polynesian culture including music and dance performances, delicious Rapanui cuisine, and traditional carvings.
Monet’s Home and Garden, Giverny, France
My personal choice is Monet’s Home and Garden in Giverny in France . Much as we absolutely love Paris we have also enjoyed many weeks travelling in regional France, including northern France.
Rowan outside Monets home
You know those travel experiences that stay in your mind years later, that hold a very special place in your heart and that just might have moved you to tears at the time? For me visiting Monet’s Garden and Home was just one of those.
I have loved Monet’s work since I started studying art in 1966 and that love has stayed with me. And of course his garden at Giverny is the subject of so much of his beatiful work.
Having said that, I kept my expectations low because we visited in Autumn and we all know that Spring is the best time of the year to visit a garden.
How wrong I was; Monet’s vision and the excellent work of those who maintain the grounds, meant that the gardens were a picture. The plantings were so beautiful and themed into different areas. And then there was the famous lake with the water lilies, the boats tied up at the side and the stunning green bridge. Yes there were tears of joy and a great wish that some of my artist friends could be enjoying the visit with me.
If the gardens were spectacular then there was the house itself. I hadn’t for a moment thought how it might feel to walk through the rooms where Monet lived; to imagine sitting in his bright yellow dining room or cooking with the gleaming copper pans hanging over the kitchen range. Or perhaps to sit with Monet himself and his artist friends in the salon, the walls of which are covered in pieces of Impressionist art. What an experience, I was delightfully overwhelmed.
The village of Giverny itself is also delightful and only 75 kms from Paris. After the visit to Monet’s home we enjoyed a wander in the local area, visiting the shops and cafes. Do at least plan a day trip to this gorgeous spot and soak up some beauty.
Retirement villages and manufactured homes are popular choices for retirees looking to downsize, but each of them comes with rules and regulations that it is essential you understand. Discover the pitfalls and make a well informed choice before proceeding with the purchase of a home in either of these accommodation options.
As alluded to in my previous post on Retirement Housing Options under the headings “manufactured homes” and “retirement” villages, in this post I discuss the potential downside of those options. These require careful consideration by you, your family and legal & accounting advisors. Note that legislation and applicable regulations can change between state jurisdictions.
At the outset I must explain I am not a lawyer or an accountant and have drawn on material from Caxton Legal Centre Inc in addition to personal and related experience, and research. Inspiration has also been drawn from Homes for Homes, an initiative from The Big Issue.
As with any business affairs that may impact our financial, physical and mental well-being, and more so if you are concerned about what you may pass on to loved ones, it is essential that you gain a thorough understanding of what you are signing up for. This includes how you or your beneficiaries might be allowed to liquidate and indeed benefit from your investment at the appropriate time.
There is plenty to consider, it’s not all straightforward and laws change (too) frequently. Do be sure to read all the applicable documentation (plenty of material there), seek assistance from legal and accounting advisors and be wary of claims/assurances not in that documentation. Be informed and assume nothing.
Manufactured Home Parks
One of the downsizing options you might consider is the relatively low cost retirement villages or “manufactured home” parks; these are certainly an affordable option.
Along with your own living space you may have common use facilities at your disposal. These may be over and above what you might have in a unit or apartment, perhaps parking areas for guests, swimming pool, gym, BBQ areas, tennis courts etc. These are of course shared, and you need to be comfortable with that form of space sharing and communal living. If so, you will no doubt find these additions very attractive. Of course you need to be sure you will use them, as you will be paying for their maintenance.
Less maintenance can mean a chance to sit back and relalxYour checklist for manufactured or relocatable home communities
Do be aware of the following:
you will not own the land associated with your home, and the landowner may not be the manager of the park.
you will pay rent for the land and rent can, and most likely will, be changed (read “increased) . You may not have any say in that change other than that it may be defined or limited within your Site Agreement (contract) and/or by State legislation. Check those terms carefully before signing anything.
purchasing your manufactured home may impact arrangements you have with Centrelink e.g. rental assistance and pension; it is your responsibility to keep Centrelink informed.
if you have taken a loan to buy your home then you will continue to be solely responsible for paying that loan.
rent for the land will continue to be payable whilever your home is located there, irrespective of whether you are living in it
check any terms & conditions related to selling e.g. where advertising is allowed, restrictions on selling through agents, mandated selling through park owners etc. Again, be aware that rent is still payable (as above), while you or your power of attorneys are trying to sell.
You have no control over who your neighbours will be, with limited recourse outside standard obligations should their behaviour be unacceptable to you. Whilst this is the case in any residence it can have greater impact at close quarters.
the landowner and park managers may change without notice and the good relationship you had with management when you moved in may not continue.
the landowner may be entitled to unilaterally terminate your rental and request that you remove your home – an expensive and very inconvenient (to say the least) process.
There is no obligation on the landholder to continue the land use as it was when you moved in, or to continue operation of the park. The risk of this may be higher where the park is located in areas where land values are increasing. The land may be worth much more if sold for another purpose, e.g. residential development.
Although parks may be advertised for over 50’s, unless the landowner has been granted a specific exemption other age groups cannot, by law, be refused a place – this is not the case in a ”retirement village”.
Other important checks for relocatable homes
Pre-purchase inspections for pests and building condition are always strongly advised, particularly if the building is not new. If you are purchasing from the mobile home park owner, you need to ensure the park owner will, prior to your moving in, rectify any defects. If you are purchasing from an existing owner, the park owner must agree to the assignment of the Site (rental) Agreement and cannot unreasonably refuse to do so. You should check the current rental.
Utility costs may be included in your Site Agreement. Whatever the metering arrangement is you are entitled to see the relevant utility billing.
Park owners are responsible for the maintenance and access to common areas and facilities and likewise as a homeowner you are responsible to keep your building and immediate surrounds well maintained and safe. There may be strict rules regarding your maintenance obligations.
Will there be rules about your garden at your new home?Retirement village rules and regulations
One of the key differences between Manufactured Home Parks and Retirement Villages is that the latter have exit fees and even if you hold a freehold title, it is not the same as owning your own home.
Villages vary considerably between promised lifestyle expectations and facilities, as do the options to reside in them and the associated financial implications. If you are considering this option as a couple, it is worth noting that if either or both of you need to go into care, the financial burden of the initial decision may impact your capacity in that regard. Even if the Village has an associated Aged Care Facility, there may be no guarantee that you will be able to access that facility; there can be different institutions, with different access rules.
Is a retirement village the right choice for youRetirement village ownership variations
Village resident “legal interest” options include:
Freehold – may still be subject to a body corporate, leasebacks, mortgages, maintenance levies and more.
Leasehold – registered on the title for the whole village.
Loan & licence agreements – not registered against the land title
Shareholder & company title – share ownership providing the right to live in a nominated unit
Again, being thoroughly cognisant of the nature of the legal interest you will buy in a Village is essential. Read every word and seek legal advice from a solicitor with experience in this area. Consider just as carefully what happens when you leave as well as when you enter, including the implications for those managing your estate.
Residence Agreements for Retirement Villages
A Public Information Document forms part of the Residence Agreement
and will spell out:
communal facilities available
resident age limits
contributions for general service charges and the basis of service charge increases
these charges are payable throughout your tenure
many increases are limited to CPI, but may be varied when a set percentage of residents agree to those changes. Increases over which the operator has no control e.g. rates insurance, taxes, are not limited to CPI.
individual residents are responsible for personal consumption costs such as personal liability & contents insurance, electricity, gas, water & phone.
fees for maintenance and capital reserve/replacement funds are payable throughout your tenure – additional costs may be incurred where residents request capital improvements or if damage is caused by a particular resident
repair or replacement of assets like air conditioners and hot water units may, depending on the Residents Agreement, be paid for by individual residents.
the agreement should also specify operator insurances and your insurance liabilities as a resident
the dispute resolution process – make sure you understand this
process for terminating residential agreement – actual resale arrangements will vary between Villages and should be well understood on entry. This can be critical as there are many stories about owners not being able to dispose of a property due to village rules regarding who can sell the property and under what conditions.
In addition to details above, the Residence Agreement will contain information on your resale rights, exit fees, payment from the operator of the exit entitlement, and termination of the agreement.
Again, let me state that whether you plan to leave any part of your Village investment in your estate, or use it to enable you to fund your next accommodation, it is imperative that you know exactly what the Termination/Exit provisions are, and any variables that may impact your ability to exercise your options.
General obligations on your behalf as a resident relate to:
ensuring the peace, comfort and privacy of other
the ability of village workers to fulfil their
duties free of intimidation bullying or harassment
not negatively impacting the health and safety
of village workers
Village operators are similarly obligated to residents including, most importantly, not interfering with the autonomy of residents exercising their rights over personal, financial or other matters and their personal possessions. They are also obliged to respond to residents’ correspondence within a defined timeframe.
Understand the legal issues so you can enjoy your new home
Be aware that operators do have the discretion to act in an emergency where residents may be at risk or to effect urgent maintenance.
Retirement Village operators are free to set the ingoing contribution payable by residents; similarly operators are free to set the basis and amount of exit fees. Both incoming and outgoing fees vary extensively between facilities. Again, gaining a clear understanding of how this will affect you is very important.
The resale process has many of the same elements as the usual real estate selling processes. How this process occurs can vary widely in a Village is based on terms and conditions such as who is entitled to sell, time and limitations and offsetting exit fees legitimately chargeable by the Village operator. Herein lies a potential minefield that cannot be explained by any generalisations, but which needs to be sorted out before that time arrives, and preferably before any commitment to buy into a particular Retirement Village.
Be aware of any state legislation which might apply regarding mandated buybacks for retirement villages. Queensland has just enacted new legislation (April 2019); Queenslanders who “terminate their right” to reside in a retirement village will be paid for their homes after 18 months – even if it’s not yet sold – under new laws introduced by the State Government.
This compares with the new NSW’s buyback period of six months (metropolitan areas) and 12 months (regional areas).
Final thoughts on retirement villages and manufactured home communities
Assuming that you have taken good care to fully apprise yourself of the rules and regulations that apply to your imminent purchase, do make sure you also attend to your personal legal responsibilities. Make sure your will is updated to reflect your new purchase and yes do update Centrelink if applicable to your situation.
If you are considering pooling your resources to purchase your new home, make sure you fully document any agreed joint ownership arrangements and clarify those through your will.
At a time in our lives when we’d really like things to become more simple, both the options above definitely aren’t, but they can be great options if you have done your homework.
If you or a family member are in need of Aged Care Services you might find this post helpful.
Have you or your family or friends been through this process and how was the experience? Would you take either of these paths?
You know it don’t you, you really must exercise, and that as you age, fitness and strength become ever more important. But life gets in the way, sometimes in the form of injuries and pain, sometimes due to boredom and general lack of motivation.
Hopefully the variety of stories below will provide you with some ideas and motivations to create an exercise plan that is individual as you are, and that works for you.
My path to fitness over 50 (I know, I know, over 60!)
I have definitely faced all the obstacles of poor motivation, downright laziness, pain and injury. I still do on a weekly basis, but I know that regular exercise for over 50’s (over 60’s in my case) is absolutely essential to my heart health, and indeed to my mental health.
As I write this post I have some damage to my right rotator cuff and I am also a life long sufferer of back pain due to a severe scoliosis. I am also naturally lazy and a love of exercise appears to be missing from my genetic makeup. But at 65 I know the benefits of exercise and I have learned to enjoy a mix of exercise designed to lower my blood pressure, increase my muscle mass, and protect me from the possibility of falling and breaking my bones.
My ‘over 50 workout plan’ looks like this:
Monday – 5 km walk. This is in no way power walking, it takes me around an hour and I usually sit for a few minutes half way through. That allows me to rest my back, and enjoy the fruits of my labour by watching life go by on the riverside. It is important to me that my walk is in an environment that I can enjoy and I am very fortunate to have canals and the river to wander along. I am a bit of a fair weather walker, but last week I actually convinced myself to walk despite the threat of rain. I ended up calling for a lift towards the end of the walk because I didn’t want my phone to get wet, but in the past I wouldn’t even have gone out, so I was rightly proud of myself. My next step is to find my drysac so I can carry my phone in it. I wear a Fitbit as well and find that the 5 km runs out to around 6,500 – 7,000 steps, such that with a bit of incidental walking at the shops, around the house etc., I often hit 10,000 steps without really trying too hard. But, and this is the key for me, if I don’t hit that target I don’t worry.
Tuesday – 1 hour small group Reformer Pilates class. This is my favourite exercise of all. Not only is it the perfect exercise for my back and for core strength, I enjoy the laughs with my fellow classmates and our trainer. I only do one class per week because it is expensive, but I might in the future look to add an additional less expensive floor pilates/yoga combination class.
Wednesday – a visit to the gym. We spend about an hour here and I do a combination of strength training, foam rolling, warm up cardiovascular and some theraband stretches focussed on my rotator cuff injury. I have a program that is in need of updating and that is on my radar for sometime in the next few weeks. Curiously, for one who is so lacking in love for exercise, I do enjoy the challenge of weights work and seeing my reps and weights go up over time.
Thursday – 5 km walk again. To date we have followed the same route since moving to Noosaville and there is plenty of variety with dog walkers, runners, idling tourists, bird life and changes in the weather. As we become more settled we are looking to change that up a little with some walks in the National Park. That will mitigate against boredom over time. Some mornings my back is not keen to be up and walking but I have found that, as advised by my osteopath, a single Panadol Osteo relaxes me enough to push through without pain. Having said that, do not treat that as medical advice and do read the disclaimer at the foot of this post.
Friday – back to the gym for the same program as Wednesday
Saturday and Sunday – rest days with perhaps some incidental walking for pleasure.
You will note that nowhere in my program do I talk about weighing myself. I am conscious of my weight but I observe weight changes more in my clothes than on the scales, and make small adjustments to my eating and drinking in order to not let my weight ‘run away with me’.
At the halfway point of our walk
If I have a single tip for you to help with staying on track, it is “don’t beat yourself up when you miss a day”. Don’t let one missed day have you feeling like a failure. Just make sure you get up and back to your workout plan the next day. Of course if you are regularly avoiding doing your exercise you will need to determine why that is the case and deal with your mental blocks – only you can do that.
There are many ways to find and keep motivation and here are several other stories that may provide the inspiration you need. Each story is different with different exercise routines and different tricks for enjoyment of exercise.
Jane Adams jogs for her over 50 workout
When my elderly mum said she was worried I might develop type 2 diabetes I was shocked. I was nearly 50, and over 20 years I’d been working hard, bought and sold a house, paid the bills, got married, nursed my husband through cancer treatment, but I hadn’t been looking after myself. On that day, driving home in the car, I decided to change things – but I wasn’t sure how.
At a meeting with a charity client that very next week, we were talking about raising money for an important fundraiser. It was agreed that staff would run in a 10km race, and before I thought about what I was saying, I’d put my name down be one of the charity runners. I couldn’t run, but I had 3 months to get to the start line.
Jane at the beginning of her first 10 km run – image by Steve Davis
Luckily the race organisers had a 14-week
beginners training plan – and I started following it religiously. I remember
the first training session – it said, ‘walk 5 min, run 5 min, walk 5 min’. I
think I probably ran no more than a minute before stopping for a rest, but after
completing those 15 minutes (sweaty, tired and aching) I was elated. I knew it wasn’t
going to be easy, but I was determined.
Having something to aim for and doing something
for a charity I loved, had given me the kick up the backside I needed. I had
bad training days, but I never regretted a run.
I now run purely for pleasure, with friends or as my selfish me-time.
Like most of us I suffered aerobics classes back in the nineties. I loved my lycra outfits and the music, but that was about it. It was far too energetic for my liking.
In my mid fifties, I found and fell in love with Body Balance. This hour long class can be done at most gyms and combines Tai Chi, Pilates and Yoga in specific routines choreographed to music.
What I find motivating about Body Balance is the music. I lose myself in it and love that it is slow and purposeful. A Tai Chi warm up is followed by Pilates then Yoga stretching and balance before a return to the original Tai Chi.
My current Gym, which I love, has two classes each week but I would do more.
The second part of my regime is a 4km walk each day with my husband. I really need accountability and companionship or the excuses creep in. Luckily we live by the ocean and have beautiful views for inspiration.
Jan does a beach walk as part of her over 50 workout
When we travel I enjoy taking Bicycle Tours, but at home cycling is firmly in the occasional basket and always involves exploration.
I feel very comfortable and happy with my exercise routine and that is what makes it achievable.
When I was younger I was so lucky, my metabolism worked overtime, I could eat whatever I wanted and never do any exercise.
Now, in my 50’s, my metabolism has stalled and the weight has started creeping on. Unfortunately years of lazy habits can be hard to break and I’ve had to force myself to exercise.
Luckily, I have managed to find a few tricks that (most of the time) help keep me motivated:
Wear your exercise clothes at home – If you are lazing around in your PJ’s you are never going to exercise. I find that if I’m dressed in my sports gear when the enthusiasm strikes, I actually feel more motivated.
Start small – Set achievable goals that are easy to meet. Don’t overdo it, you’ll just end up with sore muscles and give up.
Keep an exercise diary – It can be really motivating to track your exercise and then look back at how much you have improved. Try to push yourself a little harder each day.
Make it social. Instead of catching up with friends for dinner, organize to meet them for a walk.
We enjoy meeting friends for evening walks, going on bush walks in the local forest or trying out the local bike trails. We also plan holidays involving our favourite activities.
Susan cycles for exercise
Find an activity you enjoy and get your friends to join you. You’ll be so busy having fun that you won’t notice you’re exercising.
To start, an admission: I’m still a decade away from 50. But as I’m about to head into my forties, I have a fantastic role model for maintaining your health through exercise. At almost 52, my husband Andrew is in better shape than he has been in ages, and that despite a major hip operation three years ago.
How does he do it? He heads to Crossfit workouts 3-4 times per week during his lunch break. It’s pretty impressive to hear him report the minutiae of the demanding workouts, and he gets oohs and aaahs from me when he’s broken yet another personal record or has perfected a new skill (rope climbing! handstand pushups!). The great thing is that the trainers make sure everyone is scaling the weights and repetitions to their current abilities and keep a close eye on technique, so participants come in all sizes and ages. Andrew says: “With age comes wisdom, and wisdom whispers that it’s competitive but not a race. Or else I’ll get hurt.”
His injuries so far have been pretty minor, such as ripped callouses and rope burn on his hands, a strained elbow tendon, and a slightly pulled back (fixed in a session with a chiropractor). When they occur, he sometimes takes a few workouts off, but is happy to return as soon as his body is ready. “Once you’ve gotten into good shape, your body craves the workout,” he says. “The only time it’s a little harder to get excited is right after a long vacation.”
Andrew adds some extra weight to his plank
As a result of his hard work, Andrew has dropped 15 pounds (6.8 kilos) that had slowly snuck onto his body over the decades. I sometimes envy the energy he has for keeping up with our toddler and preschooler. And he’s not planning on getting complacent: “My only goal is to keep death and all the ailments that precede it at bay for as long as possible.”