Empty nesters spread their wings

Raising kids and launching them out on their lives absorbs large amounts of money, support and emotions. Even when the kids (sorry, young adults) head out on their own, parents still worry about them. It’s only natural.

But having the last child leave home can create a powerful sense of freedom. Suddenly you can make choices about your own life and do what you want to do without the same level of constraint you may have had. It can be exciting but this phase requires careful thought.

One trend is downsizing – selling the family home and moving to something smaller and more convenient. Whilst this can be a difficult emotional decision, it can also provide new opportunities and a new lifestyle. You can give up mowing the lawn, cleaning empty bedrooms and vacuuming a pool nobody uses. Instead, the extra time and money can be used doing what you want – eating at restaurants more often, being closer to cultural centres, beaches and so on.

Thousands of empty nesters spread their wings even further. Fit and healthy, they are out there exploring new frontiers. Travel companies offer different styles of holidays to suit mature adults without children – hiking through Cradle Mountain, 4WD trips to Cape York, cultural expeditions to see Inca remains; the list is just about endless.

But holidays cost money and many people are looking for opportunities to travel without the financial burden. This takes the pressure off superannuation balances. Options include subsidised travel to employment overseas (that’s right, working overseas is not confined to backpackers!).

Could this be you?

When Bruce and Caroline were in their early 60s they volunteered to work overseas through Australian Volunteers International. They spent two years in the Pacific Island of Kiribati teaching in the local school and setting up an adult education centre. They were given basic accommodation and paid the local wage (which was adequate) and spent some of their own money to enhance the experience. Both agreed, “it was a fantastic time in a totally different culture – we’d love to do it again”. Their children visited them in Kiribati and described their parents as ‘awesome’.

Who said life stops at 60? Life can begin again in new and exciting ways without costing the earth!

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