If you’re one of the many thousands of retirees or soon-to-be retirees who is dreaming of travel, start planning.

Most of us are familiar with the ‘grey nomad ‘ phenomenon, where the over 55s hitch up the caravan or fit out the campervan and disappear to warmer climes in the winter or head south for the summer. The trick is how to afford this lifestyle.

Many retirees fund their travel through downsizing from their family homes and realising the monies. They can afford to purchase an apartment, townhouse or even a villa in an over-55s complex or retirement village. With a ‘lock and leave’ property, it’s easy to make a quick decision to hit the road.

Some grey nomads choose to retain their home and rent it out while they’re away but this can be problematic. Should anything happen while you’re away, you need to know you have a bolthole to which you can return without needing to wait until a tenancy lease expires.

House sitting: living like a local

One of the downsides to being on the road is you’ll end up in a tourist park that’s filled with others doing the same thing. However, there’s a great alternative (especially if you’re good with animals). House sitting, whether it be within Australia or overseas, offers a great opportunity to live in a community and enjoy the local region.

House sitting (or, less commonly, house swapping) is a growing trend among the over 55s. Many of you might be working still, but able to work remotely. As long as your temporary home has decent wi-fi, you’re good to go. Imagine spending a month in British Columbia, Canada, or a couple of months in the northern rivers region of NSW.

Finding house-sitting opportunities

If this is how you choose to live, you’ll find many house-sitting sites online, from Nomador, HouseCarers and MindMyHouse international house-sitting communities to the Australian-only Aussie House Sitters and mindahome. Be aware that, to be a house sitter, you’ll pay a membership fee that ranges from $59 a year to around $100 a year depending on the service you choose.

Facebook is another good source of house-sitting groups. Look for House Sitting Australia Wide, Australian House & Farm Sitters + Tiny Home Sites or Kiwi House Sitters to name a couple.

The Facebook group, House Sitting World, is a house sitters support group you might find useful.

Staying in touch with family and friends

I’m sure you’ve heard the statistic that the fastest-growing user group on Facebook is over 55. Most of us have (of somewhat reluctantly) embraced our laptops, iPads and smartphones. Since the advent of 4G (with 5G on the way), it’s so much easier to stay in touch. You can Facetime or Skype with the family, post your travel photos on Facebook or Instagram and keep up to date with what’s happening at ‘home’.

And now the major phone carriers have made its mobile data plans more flexible, it’s cheaper and easier than ever before. Even when you’re overseas, you can activate International Roaming that costs only $10 a day and only if you actually use the service on that day.

Are you ready to hit the road?

If you’ve done your planning, all that remains is to fund your travels. Selling the family home and buying a lock-and-leave property will free up your finances. You could be living a globe-trotting lifestyle, meeting locals and caring for much-loved pets and farm animals. Who’s up for that?

Can we help with advice on downsizing?

Having navigated the home sale and downsizing process not only for our real estate clients but also for members of our own family, it’s an area in which we’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge. So don’t hesitate to seek out our help – no obligations.

Free downsizers guide

Michael & Rhiff Larkings

As a specialist team, focused on Caringbah South and the surrounding suburbs, we've been providing real estate services for over 20 years. With numerous real estate awards to our name, we're in the top echelon of licensed real estate agents in the Sutherland Shire. We regularly set new street, suburb and area sales records. Most importantly, we understand that real estate is a ‘people’ business where the development of relationships and trust, with both our clients and purchasers, is vital to achieving your all-important sales result.

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