Choosing life: deciding what to do before work ends

3 min read

Claire Chandler and her husband Ben Huber pre-empted retired life by moving north and making a tree change to move into the artistic community that is Lismore, north-eastern NSW - about 45 minutes from Byron Bay.

What is most unusual about their “pre-retirement” tree change is that both of them are in their early 40s. Not a lot of people are ready to think about retirement at that age, but they both feel that enjoying retirement is about the decisions you make now. By that, Claire explains, it’s not about planning for a future in retirement, which is nothing like the life you lead now. It’s about choosing the life you want now and making sure you can ease into it when you stop working.

The Huber-Chandler tree change from Sydney’s lower north shore to NSW’s Northern Rivers area was inspired by their forward planning and interest in buying an investment property. Researching properties over two years they realised that the Sydney property market was too hot for them and they started considering other options for their future. For the $750,000-800,000 price they were considering, they found they could only afford poky properties they didn’t even like.

“We started exploring buying outside Sydney – and Lismore came up as an option. We had family and friends in the area and after many visits over the years thought it was a perfect combination of city, country and arty communities for us,” Claire says.

“We saw a lot of properties in Lismore and found a beautiful 1930s cottage ten minutes’ walk from town, which we fell in love with immediately. It was on a quarter-acre, had polished floorboards, high ceilings, mango and macadamia trees and was half the price of a studio apartment in Sydney.” There is also the opportunity to create an artists’ or writers’ retreat on the property, which will fulfil Claire’s passion.

It’s more than just moving house for the Huber-Chandlers.  “We’re looking at making a change from doing the same thing day in and day out,” Claire says. “For me it’s about thinking about the future – and what our future will look like but testing the direction early.”

Claire says she will be treating this like a social study – benchmarking and comparing costs, lifestyle, health and happiness over 12-months from 1 January 2017. Based on this, they will consider options for their eventual retirement. They are keeping their current home in Sydney and will decide what to do at the end of a year.

“Everyone around us are really excited for us, many people are looking at similar things but don’t know how to start. The easiest thing is to take one small step, one after the other, and to make a change.” Claire works in communications and her husband has a background in carpentry and corporate roles, and both are budding entrepreneurs. “Ben loves the challenge of making beautiful artefacts from wood,” she says “but we’re most looking forward to exploring what we can do in the local community, and how we can contribute in a meaningful way.”

Claire says she will start a blog of her 12 month adventure so people can keep updated with the exploration of her new surrounds and the insights that evolve throughout the process. In between, she also aims to find work in Lismore or work remotely.

We will be regularly checking in on the Huber-Chandlers to see how it’s all going.

Need help defining your future sea or tree change? Speak to your financial adviser.

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This Information current as at 15/12/2016.

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