Grey nomads: Retirement on the road

An increasing number of Australians are choosing not to spend their retirement at home. Instead, they’re setting off for adventures in the great outdoors. Could this be your dream retirement?

Wandering retirees, known as ‘grey nomads’, are defining a new kind of retirement lifestyle. In 2016, grey nomads accounted for almost half of visitors at caravan and camping sites across Australia, a 20 per cent increase since 2015.

Road-tripping retirees usually travel with their partners in motorhomes or in cars towing caravans, and stay at caravan parks or free camping grounds.

So, what’s the appeal of this peripatetic lifestyle?

For some, it is the opportunity to tick new experiences off their bucket list after a lifetime dedicated to working and raising a family. That can mean travelling far and wide across Australia.

From the ‘big lap’ to a coastal drive, grey nomads are hitting the road to visit sights such as Uluru, Kakadu, the Great Ocean Road or Shark Bay. Some retirees are making pilgrimages to historical sites such as the National Anzac Centre in Albany, Western Australia.

The nomadic lifestyle may also be a cost-effective way to spend retirement. Grey nomads avoid the hassle and costs of flights and hotels simply by taking their accommodation with them. Some choose to sell their home, enjoying the added freedom from mortgages and utilities bills.

Some even find work on the road – called ‘workamping’. Many tourist centres and caravan parks have begun using the skills and experiences of retirees, offering free accommodation or payment for completing tasks such as conducting visitor surveys or doing maintenance jobs. Workamping is also a great way for grey nomads to become part of the local community.

Retirees can even turn their passion into a profession while travelling. Hobbies such as photography, knitting or painting can supplement the pension or other income. It’s simply a matter of putting a notice up at the caravan park or joining the local market.

Retirement can be stressful. Individuals may feel a loss of purpose as they rethink their goals, where they belong and how to spend their days. Becoming a grey nomad can help retirees answer these questions and enjoy a new life of travel at their leisure.

Grey nomads can also become part of a tribe. Each day, grey nomads come together to share happy hour at campsites and caravan parks across Australia. Happy hour is an informal tradition that goes with the lifestyle and can help retirees meet new people.

Before setting off, retirees may need to consider if their finances, insurance policies or estate plans are set up for retirement on the road. A financial adviser can help with this, so the adventurers can focus on other important questions – such as caravan or campervan?

January 19, 2020

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