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Retirement our way

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A creative outlet is crucial for David, who says he’ll never stop making art. “What I was doing in New York probably pays between 20 and 100 times better than what I’m doing now,” he says. “But what I’m doing now is 20 to 100 times more fun.”

David didn’t have superannuation or the equivalent in the US, but has invested in property. He and Dani, who don’t plan to have kids, own the Darlinghurst apartment where they live with their rescue
shih tzu. They also bought an investment property in the same building five years ago.

David says he and Dani aren’t “lavish people” but want a future in which they can travel and socialise. “A yearly trip overseas for a few weeks and going out for dinner once a week would be nice,” he says.

Gordon and Trish Dowd
Bruce, ACT

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Gordon and Trish are using their superannuation to embark on a season around Europe. Credit:MLC

Retired couple Trish and Gordon Dowd are about to embark on a season in Europe. First up is a month house-sitting for “friends of friends” in a French village on Lake Geneva. “They need someone to look after their chickens, dog, cat – and swimming pool!” Trish says. After that, they’ll “mooch around Europe” for two months, stopping in Germany, Italy and Holland to visit former exchange students with whom they’ve kept in close contact. “We’re independent travellers,” Gordon says. “We don’t do tours and we don’t do cruises.”

Trish and Gordon live in the Canberra suburb of Bruce, and following careers in education and the public service, have enough superannuation to allow them to enjoy a “comfortable” retirement. They also sold a rental property five years ago and reinvested that money in superannuation. Gordon, 80, retired in 2006 after 32 years as a primary school teacher, including 14 years as a principal, and later worked with the federal Department of Education. Trish, 74, retired in 2009 after working as a policy officer at the Department of Immigration and as a registrar with the ACT’s health professionals registration boards.

Trish and Gordon travel to visit their three children and two grandchildren scattered across Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney, and help their less mobile older siblings and friends where needed. As well as travelling, they
also love socialising and catching the latest movie or theatre production. “We feel very lucky in life and very privileged,” Trish says.

Andrew de Souza
Gordon, NSW

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Andrew plans to keep working well into his 60s, as he enjoys the stimulation that work provides. Credit:MLC

Fifty-five-year-old Andrew de Souza’s investment banking career took him from east Kenya, where he was born, to London and then Sydney, his home for the past 30 years. But in his late 40s he was made redundant, forcing him to make a career change. Now a self-employed part-time business coach, he’s taken on more responsibility at home and for his three daughters, aged 16 to 25. His wife, Scarlett, works full-time as an office manager at a law firm. “We’ve swapped hats,” he says.

Their eldest daughter is living independently while the younger two live in the couple’s five-bedroom home in Gordon, on Sydney’s upper north shore. Andrew and Scarlett are on track to self-fund their retirement and hope to live independently for as long as possible. They have opted for a self-managed superannuation fund because it is more flexible and Andrew feels comfortable managing it. Through it, they invest in local and global shares, fixed income and commercial property. However, Andrew says they’ll likely move to a retail platform fund down the track because these can be cheaper and easier to manage. They also plan to downsize their home in the future.

Andrew plans to keep working well past his 60s, enjoying the mental and social stimulation that work provides. “I could live until I’m 85,” he says. “You can’t sit back and read the paper for nine hours a day.” Travelling across India and catching a World Cup cricket match are on his bucket list, while for Scarlett, Europe’s art galleries beckon in retirement. “Travel, charity work and certainly keeping in close contact with family will be priorities,” Andrew says.

Isla and Brian Webb
Como, WA

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Isla and Brian hope to continue to volunteer and travel as they begin their retirement. Credit:MLC

Isla Webb, 69, has tasted retirement and says: “Life is busy!” On a typical week, Isla volunteers one day to help sort leftover supermarket fresh produce to go to charities. Another two days are taken up working in her and husband Brian’s commercial property management business and on their personal accounts. A fourth day is spent socialising with her elderly sister or helping her with the grocery shopping. “I don’t know how people have time to be bored,” she says.

Isla and Brian, 70, have three children: two from Isla’s previous marriage and a younger son, now in his late 20s. While their children have flown the coop, Isla and Brian still help out with regular school drop-offs and pick-ups for their nearby grandchildren. Family is important to them both, and they’ve just built a new home in Como, South Perth, which “accommodates lots of extras” at Christmas, Isla says.

Brian is planning to scale back the family business this year and only work about 15 hours a week. Their self-managed super fund includes commercial property, shares and cash, and they are on track for a retirement in which they can travel and enjoy dinner out with a nice glass of wine once a week. “I’ve always worked and Brian has been astute in our investments,” Isla says. They travel often and Brian would also like to do some volunteer work. “Retirees can do – and are doing – so much,” Isla says.

The information in this article should not be taken as financial advice. Please consider your personal circumstances before making any financial decisions. For more visit mlc.com.au

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