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3 Overseas Retirement Trends for Baby Boomers in 2019—International Living Australia

March 6, 2019 Lifestyle News No Comments Email Email

According to a new report from the editors at, three overseas retirement trends stand out for 2019. The editors in the field are seeing more Baby Boomers taking advantage of good-value opportunities abroad—for dental care, roving retirement or simply travel.


TREND 1: Trading Occasional Trips for Long-Term, Travel-Filled Retirement Overseas

More and more Baby Boomers are trading a sluggish retirement at home, dotted with the occasional holiday, into months at a time spent overseas. They’re embracing a roving retirement, thus minimising visa hurdles and reducing their expenses by visiting countries where the cost of living is lower than in the Australia.

Just like Sharyn Nilsen.

“When my husband Tim and I first left Australia in 2010 to try out a roving retirement, people thought we were nuts,” says Sharyn. “We were pretty ordinary, middle-class, working Australians in our 40s with a nice house in the suburbs of Brisbane, a modest car and a reasonable income. But we certainly weren’t rich by any means.

“People couldn’t understand how we could just pull up stumps and go travelling long term. They figured we’d either be scrimping on everything to stay on the road or back home to resume “normal” life before long. Some still remembered our first extended trip in the 1990s where we really were rock-bottom budget backpackers. None of our friends wanted to ask about how to live that kind of lifestyle.

“To be quite honest, we didn’t know if our plan would work either. We’d done as much research as we could. We were intent on travelling slowly so we could experience places on a deeper level than we could if we were just hopping about. We looked at places we wanted to visit and hubs where we could base ourselves for a while. We looked at how much things would cost, what income streams we could open up and where we could work to refresh our funds, along with the best way to access them.

“We set up our affairs back home to run on autopilot (almost), conquered those last nagging feelings of doubt and set off.

“In nine years, together we’ve visited 60 countries. We base ourselves in Vietnam when we’re not travelling, have established ourselves as English teachers, started a profitable freelance writing business and stayed in a range of luxury accommodation in some of the world’s most expensive places for free thanks to housesitting.”

TREND 2: Dental Tourism

The cost of dental care at home is driving more and more Australians to consider options further afield. People say the service is first-class and a fraction of the cost back home.

Sydney native Alan Hansen, aged 71, retired to Phuket on a permanent basis several years ago but had been attending the island’s dentists for the best part of 10 years before moving there.

“I had a dental emergency when I first visited and couldn’t believe how professional the dentists were. A badly made mercury filling (which I’d had done in Australia) had fallen out which appalled them. They spoke perfect English and did a terrific job with X-rays, examinations and painless drilling. The dentist really cleaned everything up, fixed my tooth and used a much nicer type of filling. All together I paid about $100.”

Alan realised he could return to Phuket regularly to get more extensive treatments which otherwise would have been too costly for his limited budget back in Australia.

“Every holiday paid for itself with the money saved being enough to cover the cost of flights and hotel for a two- or three-week visit. Even after paying travel expenses the savings meant that advanced dental care was suddenly a financial possibility.”

Alan has since had a lot of work completed at the Sea Smile Dental Clinic in Patong which is the first on the island to be JCI-accredited with an ISO:9001 certified in-house dental lab. He says that it’s important to select an established clinic where you feel comfortable and confident. He also thinks it’s better to pay a little more to get the best service as prices are so competitive already.

Says Alan, “Dental care in Phuket is a world and a wallet away from what I was used to.”

TREND 3: Solo Retirement Overseas on the Rise

“My life has changed a lot in the past few years,” says Pamela Manning who moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand. “Indeed, so have I. A few years back, at the age of 65, I was something of a shrinking violet. Not bold or adventurous and certainly not an intrepid traveller. But that was okay, I was happy at home in Australia.

“But then my safe, snug world broke into a million pieces. I lost my husband. The world I knew disappeared. Life became dreary and humdrum. I was busy, but I felt a bit like a robot. I was going through the motions. I wasn’t living.”

Then one evening a story on living overseas came on the T.V. and Pamela was hooked.

“I decided I was going to be brave and intrepid and unafraid. I decided to take risks and feel confident about my decisions. I was going to travel to Asia to pick up the pieces of my life and become a real person again. This was going to be the new me.

“When I called my daughter to tell her my plans she was concerned, but I was determined this was the right move for me.”

Pamela travelled to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand and got herself a job teaching English in a school.

“The more time I spent in Chiang Mai, the more I fell for its many charms and so I decided to buy an apartment here. For just $30,000 I was the owner of a property in a foreign land. My time as a shrinking violet was behind me.

“The years here have passed quickly. I’m 77 now and settled here. There’s a strong expat community and I’m kept busy. I play golf, I draw, I sing in a choir—I even had a go at acting and was in a play with the local theatre company.

“Every activity you can think of is on offer here and your newfound friends will happily help you find it. I learn the language to keep my mind in tip-top shape and it still gives me a thrill using what I have learned—with confidence—when I’m shopping at the local markets.

“I bought two more properties in Chiang Mai which I lease out to earn some income. This helps me live a most wonderful lifestyle. I travel all over the world and have explored Laos, Cambodia, China, India and Vietnam. Russia, the Middle East and Sri Lanka are on my radar too, but I think Greece will be my next port of call.

“No matter where I travel to, Chiang Mai is home now. I have a retirement visa—which I renew annually—and I plan to stay here forever. I’ve found my paradise, my tribe and myself.”

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