Lock up and Leave (without a worry in the world)

If there’s one thing retirement living lends itself to, it’s the joy of being able to jet off on epic adventures without having to stress about home burglars or dying plants.

There’s almost nothing as exhilarating as the freedom of boarding a plane or stepping onto a cruise ship – or even sitting in a car, for that matter – with nothing but the thought of the journey ahead; the experiences just waiting to unfold; the memories you’ll return with. And even better than that? Being totally free without having to worry about your mailbox overflowing with letters, the weeds out-populating the grass, or your long-suffering shrubbery crying out to be watered.

For Mr & Mrs Joneses, the ability to ‘lock up and leave’ was at the forefront of their mind when they moved to a Retirement Village. The couple, who have a serious case of the travel bug, have a caravan and get away as often as possible.

“Usually we’re away for a minimum of four week and up to six or eight weeks. Our family are spread out so a lot of our trips are based around getting to family,” says Mrs Joneses. “We love going up North – some of our most memorable trips have been there. I lived in WA for a while and my husband and I met in Perth about nine years ago, so we have a lot of memories there, plus it’s a beautiful part of the world. We escape in the caravan, every winter.”

A new study has found that lifestyle factors are one of the biggest motivators inspiring so many Aussies to downsize their homes – followed by the desire for low-maintenance living and becoming empty nesters.

The study, Downsizing Amongst Older Australians, from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, analysed census data from 2006 and 2011, and when combined with an additional survey of senior home owners, found that nine per cent of Australians over 50 had downsized during that five-year period.

For the Joneses, it was a no-brainer. “The village benefits us in every single way because it’s so community-minded – there’s always someone that will collect your mail, or water your garden, and we do the same for others when they’re away. The community spirit goes hand in hand with the sense of security,” says Mr Joneses. “The other good thing is that a retirement village is not an easy place for a burglar to get in and out of. That’s a big plus for us.”

The lock up and leave phenomenon is rife amongst boomers who find themselves with the freedom and funds to embrace serious travel plans in retirement. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has found the number of people aged 65 to 74 holidaying overseas has increased more than 80 per cent in the past five years. And according to Emma from Travel Trends and Insights, which draws on data from Enhanced Media Metrics Australia, “Travel for pleasure is a top priority among Baby Boomers, many of whom are healthier, fitter and more cashed up than earlier generations of retirees. With time to get away and a more leisurely approach to travel overall, their most popular options include cruising and touring by car.”

As Fairfax Media’s national travel editor, Anthony Dennis, puts it like this, “Travel has become such a part of our DNA as Australians, it’s not just about a holiday but enriching ourselves as a people and broadening our horizons. We’re devoting more of our discretionary spend to travel, it’s seen as a personal investment and the experiential element is becoming more obvious. People want a deeper experience and value for money. They seek a rich, rewarding experience that will inform the rest of their lives.”

For many, the low maintenance and secure lifestyle that villages are known for – not to mention the tight-knit community of residents, all of whom look out for each other is the perfect reason to move in, especially when travel is on the agenda. And if you’re thinking of downsizing to a village so you can take advantage of the ease with which you can go on holidays, stress free.

“There was one time where we’d gone away and I was mentally going through all the chores in my head and I realised I’d forgotten to empty the rubbish bins,” she says. “All I had to do was ring the office, and they came down with their master key and emptied the bins for me. I mean, where else could you possibly get that level of service? When we’re travelling, we don’t worry about the house ever. It’s such an easy lifestyle, and so wonderful to be able to go away knowing our home is as secure as it can possible be.” Bon Voyage.