Life after a sea change
What sort of lifestyle changes can you expect after swapping city streets for sandy shores? Hear from Judy, a real-life sea changer, who lived in Sydney for almost 30 years before retiring in Shoal Bay.
Seeking a seaside retreat
After living most of their adult lives in Sydney, Judy and husband Paul were ready for a change of scene when the time finally came for them to retire. “Paul tried to retire about 6 times and I also returned to my job after leaving,” says Judy. “Retirement caught up with us in the end and I knew I wanted to be close to the ocean. I was brought up in Sussex on the south coast of England and I always loved the times we spent with family by the sea, in the UK and Australia.”
Thanks to the Sydney property boom, moving from their 2-bed home in Leichardt and buying in Collaroy or Coogee was out of the question. So, they looked north towards the Nelson Bay area where they had enjoyed holidays in times past. “We felt we knew the area quite well, but still took time to explore and get to know the different communities,” says Judy. “We spent weekends up there and registered with local real estate agents. It took about three months to find the place we now call home in beautiful Shoal Bay.”
A sense of welcome
While Judy does find herself missing some of the cultural and culinary highlights of city life, the warm reception from their new friends and neighbours have more than made up for this. “We’ve joined a lot of organisations since moving here including Probus, our Community Association and U3A and it’s been the ideal way to meet people,” says Judy. “We have a regular Wednesday get-together at the pub and you can’t walk more than a few hundred yards down the street without bumping into someone you know. It gives you a sense of belonging that’s so different to the city where most of the people you see are strangers.”
Choosing to keep busy
Between trips to visit friends interstate and overseas and being an active member of local groups, Judy and Paul’s lifestyle is as busy as it ever was when they both worked full-time. “Yesterday we drove back from Canberra after a weekend with friends,” says Judy. “Today started with croquet at 8.30 and I’ll have choir practice tonight. I’ll miss out on the Probus walk tomorrow as I’m getting my hair done but I can join the U3A walk the next day. Then there’s a Probus dinner on Friday and Paul has a rugby presentation this weekend too. There’s never a dull moment and that’s just how we like it.”
Judy definitely sees her local community in Shoal Bay and all the activities on offer as an essential part of her new retirement lifestyle. “When you’re still working you have work friends you look forward to seeing,” she says. “When you don’t have something to go to every morning, it’s good to know you’ll just run into someone you know as you’re going about your daily routine.”
Test the waters
There’s no doubt Judy and Paul are grateful for their own experience of making the move away from Sydney for retirement. From exploring the beautiful coastline with Probus and U3A walks to a ferry trip with friends to have lunch in Tea Gardens, there are so many reasons why they feel a sense of belonging here.
“We knew the area well,“ says Judy. “We understood what to expect from life here. If you’re going to live somewhere new in retirement, you need to know there will be people nearby who share common interests with you. It’s worth doing the move as an experiment first to make sure you won’t have any regrets.”
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