ANGELA COX: What’s it like
when you’re out there, driving along in the convertible,
with the top down and the wind through your hair? Do you feel like you’ve made it? Yes.
(CHUCKLES) Every time we go in the car, that’s what you say, isn’t it?
Yes. Yes. Colin and Michelle Bodie
love two things in life – their family, and the bright yellow MG
they meticulously restored together. Who picked the canary yellow? Oh, that was my idea.
Oh, yeah, Colin’s. Yes. I love bright colours.
If you’re gonna have a… It’s Monaro… Monaro yellow. Yeah, Monaro. Yeah.
If you’re gonna have a… If you’re gonna have a…
drive a sports car, it’s gotta be bright-coloured.
It’s… makes them go faster. The Bodies have nailed the
retirement of their dreams, downsizing from this,
in suburban Melbourne,… this,
on the Mornington Peninsula, pocketing enough money from the sale to set themselves up
for the rest of their lives. So, are you among Australia’s
happiest retirees? Yes. But we don’t want to sound too…
too positive, because… because everybody
might want to do it. (CHUCKLES) (LAUGHS) But it’s not the only way to do it. This is what you wake up to
every morning? Yes. It’s lovely. Tonight, the inspiring people who’ve found the recipe
for making life work after work – at home and away. When I looked to here,
and what I could have, and how I could live,
it really was a no-brainer. Could you ever imagine having
all of this anywhere in Australia? Never, ever, ever,
in a million years. I would be living in… in poverty. But first, inside this home, on the New South Wales
Central Coast, a bold retirement experiment is in its tenth year. One sprawling house; three retired couples… Out, out, out, out. Out. You’ve
got your own thing over there. ..who have pooled their savings to make the best of
their golden years. Good. Good. I think it’s more of an adventure,
really. I think it was not to
end up in aged care. Certainly that, but then,
you know, where could we go and build something, create
something that we would like? What they created was
three houses in one. Michael and Judy Hollingworth
live in one wing (LAUGHS) Their American friends, Daniel
and Eve Grzybowski, live in another. What didn’t you want
your retirement to be? Anything that seemed to be what
everybody was doing in retirement – moving into a retirement village; hanging out strictly with
other people who were retired and getting old; and no young people around. There didn’t seem to be any options
that seemed very attractive. Ah. The third couple are Canadians –
Rick and Heather Bolster. Cheers. I didn’t want the life
that my parents had, which was… isolation, growing old, getting more
and more rigid in their lives and set in their ways, and never getting out
and seeing anything any more, and, kind of,
withering into old age. ‘Like the menace in “Jaws”‘. And I didn’t want that for myself. I didn’t want a conventional
‘old folks’ home’, you know, a retirement village where
we go and it’s just the two of us. I mean, we wanted something else. The idea of finding something else
first came up 18 years ago. Back then, all three couples lived in their own homes
in suburban Sydney. They were good mates –
even took holidays together. One night, at dinner, they started
talking about the years ahead. So, what was your worst fear about growing old? Finishing up in a retirement home. Complete loss of autonomy, loss of interest in life, and what was the other thing? No stimulation. No social… You know, like, dull, flat, boring. Then you go the other way.
Just unwind. It was what all three couples
were determined to avoid. Eve was the first to suggest that,
perhaps, they could live together
and look after each other. Everybody wants to take ownership
of the idea, but I think it was my idea.
I said, “Well, what if we do this?” You know, “We live together.” You know, “We all want to retire. “We all want a gentler lifestyle. “So what if we all did it together?”
You know, “See what it’s like.” “How many movies have been made “in the ‘Mad Max’ franchise?”
Four. Three old and one new. But not everyone was on board. Daniel had his doubts. Initially, I was willing to humour
the others,… (CHUCKLES) because I didn’t think there
was any hope of this sort of thing happening. I did have plenty of share houses
when I was younger, and I thought, “This is not
necessarily a great idea.” (GENTLE MUSIC) So, first, they took a test drive
of their idea, renting a large house in Sydney
together for two years. It was only then that they
decided to take the big leap – sell up and construct
a purpose-built house they could all share
for the rest of their lives. The initial investment
was about 250,000 per couple. Thank you so much for having me over
for lunch. This looks amazing. This is a do-it-yourself
retirement home. Now, who’d like a bit of white? Mmm. Yeah, that is good. You’ve been friends for decades, and you holiday together. Clearly very good friends,
to come up with this plan. Do you still like each other
as much, now that you’ve lived together?
Or do you like each other more? I’d say more.
More. It depends on the day. (ALL LAUGH) It’s an arrangement that seems to
be working out well for everyone. But what happens in the years ahead, when they may not be as healthy
and active as they are today? Should have brought out
the china for this. We’ve got a… a staged plan – look after each other, get in home care… When it’s getting too much of that, then we’ll have live-in
home care,… If necessary.
..up in the shed, if necessary. Or if it works.
You know, we’ve got stages of, “How long can we run this out “before we’re obliged to
step out of it altogether?” And, hopefully, die here. (PLAYS GENTLE TUNE) BRETT STENE: What concerns me most
is the exit strategy for this. As people age, can they all look after or put the same amount of energy
into a property? Because a property
that’s 4 acres requires upkeep. Brett Stene is a financial planner who specialises in helping people
get retirement ready. His biggest red flag is if
there’s a serious health issue or a falling out among the couples. I believe the most important
question to ask is, “Are we all willing to sell?” Because if it can’t work,
if something goes wrong, “Are we all willing to get out?” It’s almost like a marriage
with six people in it, and when you look at how messy
a divorce with two people in it can get, is it fraught with danger? Well, people are often more
forgiving for friends than they are for partners,
so that’s nice. But it is fraught with danger. I love that sunlight. I want them to all die
on the same day, all be happy,
and it’ll be fantastic. It’ll be one of those experiments that’ll be written up
for years to come. But it’s probably
not going to be like that. Someone will need to move on, or members within each couple
will need to move on. That’s hard. Like so many Australians
nearing the age of retirement, Colin and Michelle Bodie
were asset-rich but cash-poor. They were living in their large
family home in Melbourne’s suburbs and struggling with the upkeep. So they decided to downsize. COLIN: Downsizing is… It’s something that you’re gonna
do for the last time, probably – before palliative career, or,
you know… or you die. (CHUCKLES) When they sold up, they used the money to buy into
an over-50s resort on the Mornington Peninsula. For around 400,000, they got a pleasant two-bedroom home in a safe, gated community. They also have a stash of
left-over cash in the bank. But you still have
to live comfortably. You still…
You still wanna have a nice house, which we’ve got, but it’s nowhere near the value
of the one that we had. But it’s… it’s only two of us,
you see, so we don’t need… We haven’t got… We haven’t got
our children living with us, so two bedrooms and a study is fine.
Mm. So, instead of having 1 million
in assets, now you’ve got 1 million in cash, so you can actually enjoy
your retirement? Exactly.
Yeah. And I think… I think,
after half a century working, it’s time for a rest. We’re all looking down the barrel
of retirement. How much do we need
to retire comfortably? We probably need… As a couple, about 700,000
is the sweet spot, OK? It’s the sweet spot in terms of the
superannuation you’d like to have. The more, the better. Brett Stene says many Australians
are either doing or planning to do exactly what Colin and Michelle
have done. But, he warns, there can be traps. It’s an over-50s, so, therefore, it’s designed
for someone who’s healthy, feeling good about life
and wants to keep going in that way. Unfortunately… Yes, it can be great upfront, but often people then need
to move on at a later time. So, therefore, you need to be thinking, when you move
to somewhere like an over-50s, read the fine print,
because, at some stage, you may need to be exiting
from that arrangement. But, right now, Colin and Michelle
are living their dream. “You boys go out on the boat,”
they said. There’s fishing on
their doorstep,… They won’t miss us.
They’re… They’re happy. ..and plenty of action
inside the gates as well. Now, whose turn is it now? Oh, my turn.
Oh, sorry. No, it’s alright.
Let me see if I can… Do you think any one of us
will actually get it through? No. (ALL EXCLAIM) I’m made for this life! I need to retire and move here. Straight through. Very good. Can we go and have a drink?
Yes. Nearly happy hour.
5.5 million baby boomers,… (DOOR BELL RINGS) …but they don’t all
call Australia home. BOTH: Hello. Come in.
Angela. Hi, Angela. It’s lovely to meet you.
So lovely to meet you. Thank you so much for having me. Come through. Norah Ohrt is one of a growing
number of Australian retirees who’ve relocated abroad. Sort of, the living room,
dining room,… Amazing. combined. Up until seven years ago, Norah lived in Perth. But she’s chosen to spend her
twilight years half a world away. And this is the terrace
off my bedroom. Wow. Look at this view. This is what you wake up
to every morning? Yes. It’s lovely.
Ever get tired of it? (CHUCKLES) Never.
Never? Never. (GENTLE MUSIC) Her new home sits high in
a historic hilltop village overlooking the olive groves
of southern Spain. I’m very fortunate to have this. I would never be able to have it
in Australia. It’s lovely. Oh, that view would never get old. Here, we have three bedrooms,
two bathrooms, a study upstairs on the top floor,
for guests, and this level, where we are now, which is the living room,
dining room, kitchen. And that’s my house. (CHUCKLES) My gorgeous patio… Oh!
..and garden, which I couldn’t have
if I lived in a city. A big house and a comfortable
middle-class life seemed impossible when Norah
first retired from her Perth art gallery job on a single pension. Oh, and I’ve got to show you
my pantry. I realised very quickly
that there was no way, with the superannuation that I had, that I was going to be able
to even afford a small, one-bedroom apartment in the area that
I wanted to live in. You certainly couldn’t drink like
this back home in Perth?
No. No. I… I would be living in…
in poverty. The best pantry in town.
Yeah, absolutely. I concur, I think. I don’t think I would
have been able to afford to go to the theatre,
to go to films, to eat lamb or beef, to have expensive heating
in my house… To me, that is not how pensioners
should have to live. (MARIACHI MUSIC) Norah found herself reminiscing about her happy year
living in Madrid in the ’60s. She started googling
and stumbled across a left-field solution
to all her financial woes. It was a big step. When I told my friends I’d bought
a house in Spain, they, you know, “What?” So many of them said,
“That’s fantastic. “We’re coming to stay.” (BOTH CHUCKLE) Did anyone say, “You’re crazy”? Oh, yes, quite a few people said,
you know, “You’re mad.” Norah bought her house in Martos
outright for just 60,000 and spent another 40,000
on renovations. (BOTH SPEAK SPANISH) She secured a Spanish visa and arranged for her
Australian pension – in full – to be deposited
directly into a local bank. Avocados here are only
2 euros for four avocados. Norah’s day-to-day living expenses are less than half
what she’d pay in Australia. I can afford the lifestyle that I
would want to have in Australia – that I had in Australia
when I was working. I can entertain my friends, I can go out and buy a case of wine, I can buy the sorts of meats
that I want to buy… I can do everything I want to do. Muchas gracias. BRETT STENE: Sounds great –
olive groves, vineyards… But maybe every day just sitting,
watching the vineyard, is actually not the perfect
retirement that we think it is. (CHUCKLES) Financial planner Brett Stene
says that retiring overseas can be cost-effective,
but you have to do your research. Be aware.
Of course, there’s currency, so that goes up and goes down. So you are now living
on that amount of money, which has a variation. So, in her case, also, I’d be thinking about, as you age, are you comfortable?
Who’s going to be looking after you? It sounds fantastic
when you’re healthy, but you have to be
really conscious of, when you get older, therefore,
what sort of care is required? Again, Norah has hit the jackpot. Spain is ranked as having one
of the best healthcare services in the world,… Hola. Buenos dias.
Hola. ..better than the UK or the US. And private health cover
is affordable. 15.85. I pay just over 2,000 a year. If I go to hospital
or to the doctor, I don’t have any extra to pay. It covers absolutely every penny – and that’s for specialists,
surgery, X-rays, everything. Of course, Spain isn’t all sunshine
and sangria. Norah has faced some challenges
along the way, including learning the language. (ALL SPEAK SPANISH) But a crash course in Spanish yielded a whole new circle
of friends. (ALL SPEAK SPANISH) Through here – this is a big one,
isn’t it? Norah admits moving away from
Australia was easier for her because she wasn’t leaving
any grandchildren behind. Now, she’s surrounded by children
all the time. Older people are revered in Spain, and young folk are taught to
treat them with the utmost respect. Could you ever imagine having
all of this anywhere in Australia? Never, ever, ever,
in a million years. And no regrets? No regrets at all. None. None. So, you can’t see any reason why
you would move back to Australia? No, none at all. No. This is my home,
and I will die here. And your heart’s happy with that? My heart’s very happy with that.