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Spending your golden years on the Gold Coast

John and Cheryl Alexander discovered what was important years before they were ever in a position to act on it.

Having spent much of a professional life working as a newspaper sports reporter and radio show host, John knew there had to be something more than spending weekends away following sport and weekdays chained to his desk in a small regional outpost in rural New Zealand.

“Work had hijacked my life,” he says.

Cheryl too, recognised that there had to be more awaiting her than the 40 hours a week she spent manning the customer service desk of a leading financial institution and spending her down time socialising with the same group of people, at the same old night spots, and discussing the same old things.

She too felt she was ready for a significant lifestyle change.

Having married later in life, the pair already had four children and several grandchildren living this side of the ditch and between them made the decision that the Gold Coast was where they wanted to relocate.

In 2013, John, then 60 and Cheryl then 52 decided to sell up everything they owned, including their newly built three-bedroom standalone home, arriving at the airport with just two suitcases each, just two of the more than 12,500 new migrants who make the move to the Gold Coast each year.

“Our life was in those suitcases, we had nowhere to live and no job. [But] we looked at each other laughed and said, ‘right let’s have an adventure’.”

Within three weeks of landing, Cheryl picked up a job as a receptionist in the emergency department at a private Gold Coast hospital while John went back to the classroom and qualified as an assistant nurse, landing a position at Gold Coast University Hospital several months later.

Today the pair, converts to the strata way of living, say they’ve never had it better and only wish they’d made the switch sooner.

“Our lives have changed for the better. The weather is fantastic and the opportunities to go to major sports and entertainment events are endless. I love my job and [earn] significantly more money. We live in a two-bedroom apartment in a resort complex at Hope Island on the northern end of the Gold Coast. There is a large swimming pool, gymnasium, movie theatre, function room. We have absolutely no regrets moving here,” says John.

Caroline Cameron, an executive career and lifestyle coach whose business Seachange Success assists those looking to make wholesale changes to their lives, believes the meaning of a sea change is all about “discovering what’s important and changing your lifestyle to have more time, less stress, better life balance and create the life you want to live”.

“Sea changing used to describe retirees moving to the coast or country, hobby farmers or people ‘opting out’ or downshifting.

“Today, it’s all about swapping stress, frustration and boredom for life balance, fulfilment and happiness, however you choose to do it. The options now are limitless and thanks to technology, new careers, more choice and opportunities, a sea change is open to anyone who’s ready to change the way they live,” she says.

Cameron says while there are many instances where those who have been brave enough to make the move have found success, there are an equal number who have failed.

It is partly for this reason she recommends families or individuals considering making such a move first identify their real motivations by reviewing their response to questions such as ‘what would a successful sea change look, sound and feel like’, ‘what am I prepared to compromise on’ and ‘how will my loved ones be impacted and how will we manage that’.

However the most important consideration is to have a plan B should your plans go astray, she says.

“Knowing what you would do if things go wrong doesn’t make you overly cautious. ​It’s smart to be prepared for the unexpected, if it were to happen. If you live in a fire or flood prone area, it’s likely you have a plan for the hot or wet season. Likewise, your ‘Sea Change Plan B’ is like an insurance policy or the air bags in your car.  It won’t make disaster happen but it will give you peace of mind.”

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