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Pensions in Paradise

Posted by Andrzej Barski on 4th October 2016
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road-to-bali-bing-crosby

I’m noticing how time seems to fly by. Maybe because I’m getting older, maybe because my perception of time has changed, maybe because time doesn’t exist as we’ve been taught at all – but that’s a different blog for a different time and a different space.

But it really does seem to be going quicker. Time I mean. Maybe it’s my memory not firing on all cylinders or being selective or short-term or something. What was I saying? Oh yes, maybe it’s because I’ve misspent my youth and I’ve just been out with the fairies when I should have been at home with the wife and kids.

And as time marches on, one day it happens. Just like that. Out of the blue. You wake up one morning and have one of those Senior Moments. They usually happen when you’re shaving and looking at what used to be you. But it’s not you. You left the building a while ago. It’s one of those, “what did I do with my life” moments. These come and go, a bit like waking up in the middle of the night to go for a pee, which you do a lot more after 40, and you realize the kids have all grown up, left home and are happily making grandchildren for you to babysit on rainy days.

What then?

The answer used to be to sell the family home (and maybe even the jewels if you can remember where they are), pack all the memories of times gone by and downsize to somewhere a lot smaller and, dare I say it, less hands-on because the perception is that we older folk need to be looked after now we’ve got nobody to take care of. And by older, I don’t mean like 110! I’m talking about the over 50’s, who are in the prime of their lives if truth be told. They’re nowhere near pushing up daisies! Not by a long chalk!

It’s a twisted attitude that puts people into convenient boxes and perpetuates a belief that our sad and futile existences on this planet are meant to be spent (or wasted depending on your mood today) on working, paying taxes, raising a family, working some more, and then before you die, you hit a certain number and you’re no longer considered of value to society anymore, so you get farmed out to a home. Except it’s not really a home. It’s a facility. For old folk. Who wake up in the night a lot. And need looking after because they’re old and need to pee.

Say what?

Thankfully, that perception seems to be changing. I came across an interesting idea on the National Lifestyle Villages website recently. Don’t ask why I was there in the first place because I can’t remember. They say the latest Generation isn’t Y or even Z. It’s L. The Lifestyle Generation.” And that, my friends, is me!

L-Gen folk don’t share birthdays. We share ideals. And we’re on the hunt for ways to do the things we really want to do. The sorts of things we’ve been putting off since forever because we’ve been looking after those pesky Millennial X, Y and Z kids who now want us to fade away and ever so quietly disappear.

Sharing ideals is an inspiring way to think. It helps me remember something. Something very important and that’s this is my time now and I want to enjoy it! Some may say it’s selfish, but you know what, I don’t give a hoot what they think or say so I’ll say it again. This time a bit louder: IT’S MY TIME NOW! Can you hear me at the back?

So what are my options? What can or should I do?

For me, it’s a no brainer. But I’m just wired that way. If I’m going to sell my house and downsize I’m going to choose somewhere nice and comfortable and tropical and warm. At least most of the time, and even when it’s not warm it’s hardly what you’d call cold.

One place that immediately comes to my mind is Bali – the famous holiday island paradise, the Island of The Gods. Just the name conjures up images of lazy days and palm trees and beaches and hammocks and a carefree existence. And if you still remember you’re reading this you’re maybe having flashbacks to the classic Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour movie, Road To Bali.

I mean, the gods live there so it must be a pretty awesome place right? Well, yes and no.

You’ve still got to watch who you deal with because there are unscrupulous characters out there (yes, especially even in paradise) who have no respect for age or the time spent and the work toiled to save that pot of gold at the end of a long rainbow for a rainy day. So take your time and choose who you want to help with any property or relocation decision wisely.

OK, so let’s imagine you’ve made the decision to buy a place in Bali and enjoy the fruits of your labours. You’ve done your research, found a real estate agent who you can trust and you’ve narrowed your choices down to a perfect place for a great price.

What next?

Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about retiring and living off your pension in Bali:

  • Be realistic. You’re not Bob or Bing or Dorothy remember. But maybe you are, so hey live it large!
  • Think it through very carefully. The last thing you want to be feeling is buyer’s remorse.
  • The language is different. Really? Yes it is. Sure a lot of people speak English, but and it’s a big ‘but’, you shouldn’t expect everyone to understand that a slab of beer for the Barbie is what you think it means. Indonesian is relatively easy to learn and the basics can take you a very long way. Make the effort, show some respect and get some basic essentials down. You’ll enjoy the experience more if you do.
  • There are rules and regulations you need to know about before you buy a property in Bali. The basics are here. Read them. Ask questions about things you need clarity on.
  • You’ll need the right visa. Of course you will. Get one. The good news is Indonesia has opened the doors to retirement visas which are very simple to process and don’t cost an arm and a leg. Again get the right advice.
  • You’ll need to factor in the cost of relocation and of buying the creature comforts you’re used to like, TVs, fridges and washing machines. They’re all here and they’re not expensive.
  • Getting around is key to enjoying the Bali lifestyle. Taxis and motorcycle taxis called GoJek are abundant and easy to contact either by phone or App but if you prefer to be master of your own destiny you might want to consider either buying or renting a car.
  • If you’re Australian you’ll need to have a look at the Human Services website because there are some hoops to jump through with your pension.
  • If you’re British it’s a little easier. Have a look at GOV UK for details of claiming your state pension if you retire abroad.
  • If you’re from the USA you’ll need to spend some time working through the maze that is the IRS.

As awkward as it is there are legalities to cover. There always are, so make sure you do. Read the small print with big bi-focals and make sure you dot all your t’s and cross all your i’s … or is it the other way around … I forget sometimes.

I need to make it clear here that I’m not a pension advisor or officially retired and take no responsibility for anything I might or might not have said about pensions … ever. This blog is simply my thoughts on a subject that interests me. Because that time is coming faster than I can remember and I remember I want to enjoy the time I’ve got left.

 

 

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