New beginnings: retiring to a new country

Many times we are told we need to prepare for retirement. When this is mentioned most think saving and more saving. While money can be the biggest hurdle, it is not the only factor. This week we look at someone who shares her experiences of retiring, leaving her country of birth and migrating to South Africa to start a new life.

Marianne Heron and husband David retired and moved to Cape Town. Marianne worked as a features editor for a daily newspaper in Dublin, Ireland and David worked as industrial designer.

They fell in love with South Africa during their first visit shortly after the 1994 elections. They visited South Africa several times after that visiting David’s daughter from the first marriage. Because they still had their jobs, holidays were a huge relief. While on holiday one February she had a Damascene moment. This happened while in Franschhoek Valley where she asked “Why are we going back?”

Eighteen months later, having retired, Marianne and her husband came to live in South Africa, six months later they bought a house in Cape Town, emigrated and began a whole new life.

In her journey Marianne learned that retirement is not as rosy as it is sometimes shown. She advocates research and enrolling in a pre-retirement course to prepare yourself when that time comes.

Retirement is a new a beginning and people have to really plan for it… It’s a big psychological transition

Marianne Heron

Marianne speaks of stages of retirement:

  1. The Big Day When You Leave Work
    This is the most exciting time when colleagues bid you farewell and there are celebrations. At this stage there’s lots of money in the bank and time to do just about anything.
  2. The Honeymoon Stage Time to spend with your partner or family, making up for the times you spend at work.
  3. Something Is Missing Stage
    Now the pressures of not having anything purposeful to do is kicking in. often people start small businesses to keep them busy.

People have different ideas of what life will be like after retirement. Marianne talks of ideas that most people go through:

  • Some people want to smell the roses - have a good rest
  • Others want to be adventurous – travel the world and do new things
  • While others just want to scale down – a smaller version of what you did before

In Marianne’s case, both she and David never discussed what they’ll be doing with their time after retirement which is a common mistake. Marianne wanted to go to university while David wanted to ‘smell the roses’. To make matters worse, David became depressed.

Having a shared plan was important says Marianne. Marianne took a course on life coaching at the South African college of applied psychology while David took up photography. They finally found something they can do together, Marianne doing journalistic work and David taking pictures. They both wrote a book called ‘Your handy book for Re-wirement’. The book is aimed to help people anticipate what is involved in retirement and help them build a good plan for a fulfilling retirement.

The secret to good retirement is to have something purposeful to do

Marianne Heron

For more information on retirement go to www.fulfillingretirement.co.za

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