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How one couple retired to travel the world

Published 27 February 2018

A series of small, steady efforts led Dave and Sue into a world-travelling retirement, writes Brigid Blackney.

In brief

  • Smart decisions implemented early enough meant Dave and Sue could spend their retirement travelling.
  • They paid extra off their mortgage and regularly contributed extra to their super fund.
  • They use the rental income from their property, as well as super, to fund their travels.

A nomadic retirement

Retirement is proving deliciously busy for Dave and Sue Pearse (pictured above). The couple spent the past few years travelling the world full time after quitting their jobs managing a Sunshine Coast resort.

“We got to the stage where we realised we could pay ourselves the same as what we were earning, and after that it was a no-brainer to take to the road,” Dave says.

So far, their journey has taken them to New Zealand, Britain, and the French countryside, visits they’ve dutifully recorded on their blog. Now they’re on the foodie trail in Bangkok, gearing up to head north to volunteer at an elephant rescue sanctuary.

It’s a dream lifestyle, and one the Pearses don’t take for granted.

“It wasn’t until 10 years after we got together that we took our first overseas trip together, and I now very much have the travel bug – as has Sue,” Dave says. “We enjoy each other’s company and usually have a lot of fun working through the challenges that travel presents.”

Early on in their relationship, money was much tighter – both had children from previous relationships, and on the financial front they were just getting by.

“We didn’t have too much,” Dave says. “We sought financial advice from a number of sources and followed that as best we could. At the same time, we tried to make sure we lived a happy life.”

It was implementing that early financial advice, such as taking care of investment options, super contributions etc., that helped build the foundations for their nomadic retirement.

Small, steady efforts are key

One of their first steps was to cut back on over-reliance on credit.

“I realised that if we could live continuously with our cards maxed out, then we could just as easily live with paying the debt each month,” Dave says.

It was part of a several-pronged approach, in which the couple also paid extra off their mortgage, as well as making regular personal contributions to their super account.

“It took a bit, but the key elements are to spend less than you earn, and also, if possible, to pay your interest payment each month on your mortgage, so that your fortnightly payments come straight off the principal,” Dave says.

These small but steady efforts paid off in their working life, and since their transition to retirement the couple use the rental income from their property, as well as their superannuation drawdown, to fund their travels.

But Dave emphasises that in order to make their money go as far as possible, they continue to implement sensible money decisions while they’re on the road.

By taking money-saving steps, such as housesitting in expensive countries, Dave and Sue can make their travel dollars stretch further.

In it for the long-term

As full-time travellers, accommodation is a major expense and it’s a key area where Dave and Sue find creative ways to keep costs down. When visiting particularly expensive locations they volunteer to housesit while local home owners are away.

“The first couple of years we did a lot of housesitting, which helped us fund our lifestyle a lot, especially in New Zealand and the UK where living costs are very high,” Dave says.

This year the pressure is off a bit, while they’re exploring areas where their dollar goes further.

But they’re not resting on their financial laurels – the couple still engages a company to manage their investments, and they continue to seek third-party financial advice.

“We keep a close eye on what the market and what the Australian government are up to with changes and different policies,” Dave says. “We do everything we can to live within our means, and make changes to what we’re doing to adjust to external changes as they happen.”

For now, things are looking rosy. And with plans to visit Cambodia, before meeting friends and family for a holiday in Indonesia, they’re making the most of it.

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