Uros Islands

Backpacks & Zimmer Frames

We, like you, are getting older every day and sooner or later the idea of a 20 hour ride in a chicken bus is going to decrease in appeal. To be honest it isn’t an attractive proposition now. Even at a younger age when discomfort was a mere piffle I knew bus journeys over eight hours were to be broken up if possible.

We sometimes joke we will still be disdainful of wheelie suitcases even on to our second hip replacement. Perhaps we will resemble the group of pensioners we met in Bolivia. Though they were old enough to have parents that stood guard at the Khyber Pass a good generation before the end of Empire they were still willing to add to their life experiences. You really shouldn’t be doing that I thought, as they left an island in Lake Titicaca by clambering up a precarious ladder to get onto the roof of our small boat – but good on you for giving it a go.

They were getting as much out of their retirement as possible and while we hope to do the same we have in some ways put the cart before the donkey. While they spent their working lives in secure, well paid jobs with a pension at the end we are digital nomads and, to put in bluntly, on the retirement front we are probably screwed. Deirdre is in a slightly better situation than me in that she did work for a while in a good job but I have never had what you would call a real career.

So when Whichoffshore.com got in touch with their professional expatriate information, covering financial topics such as offshore banking, investments and retirement options including Qrops pensions it set me thinking of my own financial arrangements for the future and how they don’t actually exist except in my head.

Unlike most of the expats who live in the same town as us in Turkey we are too young to have ridden the property ladder to late age prosperity and living and travelling abroad at a young age has a put a huge dent in our state pensions. I guess this is the price for having our cake and munching it down in one big gulp. Fortunately there is still time to do something about it (note to self: DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT) but it is quite likely to have a more comfortable retirement we will have to keep working forever and be travel bloggers until we die.

For your amusement and our horror here is a (hopefully) not so serious look at our retirement:

Buying a home
Though picking out curtains for the first time a few years ago felt so grown up I could almost feel myself instantly becoming more intolerant towards young people and asylum seekers, the one thing we have done right for our future is to buy somewhere to live. When we had the choice a few years ago of buying a cheap home abroad or travelling long term in Central America we thought ahead and took the safer option.

Buying a home abroad

It did clip our wings for a bit but we’ll always have a roof over our heads, pay no rent or mortgage between trips and can sell up should we need the money. We also no longer have to inconvenience the oldies or friends between travels by occupying their spare rooms or sofas for longer than they would like.

Even at an age when we make a small groaning noise getting in and out of even the most comfortable chair, we still take long and uncomfortable forms of transport. Travelling as a couple we are well past dorm rooms but still stay in the cheapest reasonable places we can find. As we get older I’m sure our definition of reasonable will change but I doubt we will go down the organised tour route. We will still be squinting at train timetables and trying to use our bus pass in Burma even at an age when we may sometimes need a ‘nice young man’ to help us across the road.

Dogs and cats
We already have the habit of stroking and patting every scabby cat and potentially rabid dog that crosses our paths and have begun to notice the slightly worrying trend of talking to them too. One day perhaps we will invite one in to compensate for our childlessness and from there it is only a small step to keeping 15 cats and a bewildered dog for company. We will soon investigate joining a house sitting network and hope our maturity and experience of running a home will give us an edge over younger house sitters. As we get older we might find ourselves needing house sitting services ourselves to look after Mr Tiddles and his 15 chums when we are on the road.

Pets and travel

Pension plan
According to the state pension calculator we are on course for receiving half the current state pension. Obviously this is going to make saving for travel difficult, especially with so many pets to feed. Perhaps with so many animals around the place we will get curious of Mr Tiddles’ diet and start to contemplate cat or dog food: as an affordable source of pensioner-age nourishment.

Travel blog
If we are going to avoid Pedigree Chum and chips for dinner we are going to have to keep our websites going past the age where tuning in the TV is a confusing ordeal. Expect posts along the lines of Best Bingo Halls in Bangkok, City Walks for Dodgy Knees, Hostel Dorm Sex for Octogenarians, The 10 Best Countries to be in Bed by Ten and Places You’ll Love Because There’s no Bloody Kids Around.

This post was written in cooperation with Whichoffshore.

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9 comments to Backpacks & Zimmer Frames

  • Nic  says:

    Great article. I’m only young-ish, but i look forward to those articles!

    • The Working Traveller  says:

      Thanks Nic – I’m a way yet before I am ready to write them though.

  • Amy  says:

    I can totally relate on the stray-animal front! One of the biggest things that I feel I’m sacrificing for long-term travel is having pets. I’m not jealous of my older brother’s nice three-bed new-build house; I am jealous of his cute spaniel though! However, having a property is a huge deal and it’s great that you have one as a safety net – is it rude to ask how much your apartment cost?

    • The Working Traveller  says:

      That’s funny you covet the dog and not the house. There are a lot of strays here but we won’t take any in or feed them regularly as it won’t be fair when we go away for six months or so. We did have a pack that liked to sit with us at the beach and walk us home at night but age and the bad habit of chasing cars has done for most of them now. One dog remains who occasionally headbutts us in the back of the leg to let us know when he’s around.

      I’m surprised I have not written a post on buying in Turkey – I’ll have to get around to that one day. Our 2 bed apartment cost £30k. We bought it for somewhere to live rather than an investment which is just as well as it is probably the same price now. To put the price in comparison we paid more in rent in 4 years in London (and that was 2002 rental rates).

  • Amy  says:

    It would definitely be interesting to read more about buying a property abroad; especially if you considered a few different options/countries too. Andrew and I have discussed buying a home abroad one day since UK property prices are so ridiculously expensive; you’re right about the London rent too – it’s insanely costly.

    • The Working Traveller  says:

      Funnily enough this was intended to be a Buy an Inexpensive Property Abroad type piece before I went down this route. Before we bought in Turkey we came very close to buying in Bulgaria, in Veliko Tarnovo.

      Do you read Traveled Earth? Mike and Ashley recently bought a property in one of the villages outside VT: http://traveledearth.com/2012/10/30/the-good-news-about-the-balkan-vampire-problem-its-not-a-problem-if-you-join-them-a-k-a-were-back/

      • Amy  says:

        No, I haven’t come across Traveled Earth before – thanks for the link, I’ll check it out. You should def write a post about the process of buying a property abroad, I’d be interested to hear how different the prices were and how difficult the processes were in the countries you considered.

  • Nico  says:

    Can thorougly empathise with your predicament. Looking forwards to the day when I’ll receive an article telling me about what wheelchair is the best to travel with :)

    • The Working Traveller  says:

      I can’t say I’m looking forward to writing those articles. We will collect our derisory pensions around the same time as the skateboard generation so the best wheelchair will be called something like the Rad-1000 Sickwheel.

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