How relocation helped Susan Simonini plan for retirement

Tasmanian artist Susan Simonini believes you don't "have to retire", however her own story shows the importance of having a solid plan for the future.

Susan Simonini was ready to make a change.

Living in Queensland her entire life, and in the same family home with her husband for most of her adult years, Susan soon convinced her husband to make a move, seeking something “more” than what they had.

“We were busy, we felt like we were getting older and everything was starting to get hectic,” Susan says. “We wanted a challenge, an adventure and a spark; we were both turning 50 and wanted to create a new chapter together.”

Susan Simonini shapes her own path

And that, they did, making the move to Tasmania and, in turn, re-thinking her career path. “I had been an artist my whole life, for 20 years,” she says. “I had been working with galleries and when the GFC hit, a lot of galleries I was working with started to close. So, I studied and started teaching in schools to supplement my income. But, I couldn’t give art away.

“I’m very creative and needed something to fill that gap, so I started taking night classes in ceramics – to have a creative outlet, stress relief etc.”

In time, Susan took control of her financial future, setting up a ceramics business with the help of social media to spread the word. “A few artist friends had websites, but it was really my sons who were telling me the importance of going online,” Susan laughs. “I had to build a website from scratch, well before templates were even available. The social media side was also very new, but being an artist, I did know that if you want to be online, and on social media, it had to be visually beautiful.”

Six years later, Susan’s business is growing (as is her social following), as she’s shipped her ceramics all over the world. “When I decided to go into ceramics fully, I knew I had to make a certain amount of money,” Susan adds. “It’s a bit more practical than painting which helps, and it has also given me another skill to help diversify my income stream”.

“I’m also diversifying myself by starting to do some workshops –as I need to plan for the future to give myself some flexibility. As I am established enough, I can pick and choose what I want to do as I get older and work differently in a way that suits me and my future travel goals.”

While Susan doesn’t believe you “have to retire”, she does believe in a solid plan for the future. “Moving here to Tasmania was a big decision in thinking about our retirement – what we were paying for in mortgage, now goes into savings, so “downsizing” has really helped,” Susan says. “In the next 10-15 years, I can do workshops and teaching, selling in markets possibly, and trying to get some retailers. I want to outsource some of my work, so that I don’t have to be working 15 hour days to get stuff done and just focus on the creative parts I get satisfaction from’.

“We have at least another 15 years before we ‘retire’ - I’ll still want to make some money and income, however, I don’t want to be selling work to survive – that financial pressure isn’t great, especially as I get older and want to achieve different dreams.

“Now, I have clarity around what’s important in life. You think about what you’ve done versus what you’re doing. Looking back helps to clarify what’s important and what to let go of. I’m now kinder to myself, and others, and don’t sweat the small stuff. You don’t have to live for everybody else anymore; and I’m finally living for myself. I’ve set my own path so that my husband and I can live well and be financially stable while chasing our dreams beyond work.”

Next: How much will you need to enjoy your retirement?

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Thinking about retirement, but not sure where to start? Get tips and information in our Planning for Retirement guide, to help you get started today.


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This information is current as at 1 December 2020.  

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