In Travel on Monday 5th Jun, 2017

Dave’s Dilemmas: An Aussie’s cunning escape from aged pension poverty

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Dave’s up early today. Normally he languishes in bed till around 9-10am as he has no reason to rise.

It’s 6am somewhere in South East Asia. Dave smiles wryly as the long procession of saffron-robed Buddhist monks pass him by as they collect their daily alms (food) from the devoted locals and curious tourists.

Yesterday, Dave filed his application to join their monastery. There, Dave has come to know he will be treated with the utmost respect as fitting a mature soul as himself. Soon his days could be filled with all manner of activities – study, food preparation, gardening, meditation and good company. They have even asked Dave, ever so politely, if he would be so kind as to help improve the monks’ English.

Dave can remain there as long as he wishes. It’s free. They have even offered to bury him when his time comes, all free of charge – there is nothing to pay – for anything. Needless to say, Dave’s sense of self-worth is now at an all-time high: and they don’t want his money or his soul – they just want him to be happy. Dave can leave permanently or temporarily whenever he so desires.

Because of his seniority age-wise, Dave can even keep his smartphone and keep in touch with his loved ones back in Australia, and world events. All the senior monks here have Facebook accounts. They might just need to politely remind Dave to turn it off during meditation sessions.

Before Dave’s path lead him here, he lived in a cheap substandard apartment in Australia wherein he eked out a barely subsistence existence on his meagre aged pension. After paying his rent and other bills, nothing remained whatsoever. Dave began to realise that if he were to remain in this lonely and wretched condition for much longer he would eventually slide into a deep state of depression from which he may never return.

Fortuitously, Dave had a few dollars hidden under his mattress (probably for his funeral), and one day decided to buy a small campervan which was now to be his new home. He then joined the rapidly-growing population of Australia’s Grey Nomads.

As he travelled about enjoying the magnificent scenery, the freedom, the comradery and more, he made a point of explaining to his fellow Greys that he had just joined their ranks because of his great love of the outdoors – not as an economic refugee in his own country.

Dave soon began to realise he wasn’t alone with his dilemmas, as many of his newfound Grey comrades were dealing with similar issues – particularly single pensioners, and more particularly the solo middle-aged women who would occasionally and sadly, share their stories.

The funny thing is, as time passed, Dave gradually adapted to his homelessness-by-choice lifestyle. He enjoyed the company, the freedom from the never-ending bills, the ever-changing scenery and the extra cash from not having to pay most of his aged pension in rent.

Dave’s newfound spirit of adventure blossomed under all the above and he soon began to cast his eyes further afield. Living long-term in his campervan still had certain limitations – namely, lack of space.

To overcome this annoyance he decided to travel to South East Asia in search of two or three locations wherein he could spend up to three to six months of each year – a kind of second home away from home. This travel was made possible since his bank balance had increased considerably and he feared (unjustifiably – of course) if he didn’t spend it certain Government Departments would find ways of relieving him of it.

Dave visited Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand and found his locations from amongst many, all offering first class accommodation, food, company and self-worth at a more than affordable price. He is able to dine out two or three times daily – even giving tips, something he could never do before. He now takes bus tours, taxi tours, extended river cruises up the mighty Mekong and more. He had his long-overdue dental work completed and bought new clothes. Dave even teaches English as a volunteer.

Dave’s new monetary and lifestyle windfall makes him feel 10 years younger and his health continues to improve. He threw away all his medications which he reckons, were making him remain ill.

Last year between travelling in Australia, living it up in Asia, volunteer English teaching and just having fun he took a cruise to the South Pacific. Now that Dave feels 10 years younger he really took to the on-board hedonistic lifestyle. He rose late, dined wearing a jacket most evenings, put on weight, drank away all his on-board credit that the cruise company allotted him, watched movies and cable TV, enjoyed the first class entertainment, swam in the pools, visited different countries, power walked the promenade deck, relaxed in deckchairs gazing wistfully out to sea all the while reflecting upon his newfound life as a homeless Australian aged pensioner.

Dave did his sums and calculated, if he could find two or three other like-minded souls they could all afford to life permanently on-board, or at least a few months at a time. Sharing a cabin shouldn’t be too much of a problem since the ships are so huge you only need visit your cabin to sleep and shower.

Occasionally he chuckles to himself as he foresees a possible future where aged people will have the option of sailing off into their sunsets never to return, as it’s far more economical and enjoyable than vegetating in a nursing home. Do the math!

Dave is planning several cruises in 2017.

Now, back to that wry smile on Dave’s face as the long line of saffron-robed monks pass him by; some of the middle-aged ones wave politely at him in recognition of their age similarities.

Dave feels a new sensation or energy rising up from deep within as he has come to realise his once bothersome dilemmas are wonderful opportunities simply presenting themselves.

Happy retirement everyone!         

Has this inspired you to retire a little differently? Let Garry know in the comments section below.

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