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How to retire in style, when you can’t afford to retire

Jenny Stark in India

After 36 years of teaching, Jenny and Jon Stark still couldn’t afford to retire in Australia.  So they rented out their apartment and use the money to travel and live simpler, more adventurous lives.

What was the catalyst for your Good Life Crisis?

Sitting in a homestay in the beautiful mountains above Sapa, Northern Vietnam, we looked around and saw how happy the locals were, despite how little they had. We were cooking over an open fire in the middle of the kitchen floor, we had few possessions with us. We’d walked all day with the Black Mong people, the sun on our faces and beaming smiles.

It was one of those light bulb moments! The and there we realised we didn’t need to teach to earn lots of money to buy lots of things, most of which we didn’t need! We could do what we loved best; traveling the world cheaply, learning from others and in return helping them.

How has this changed your life? 

Our lives are are much freer. We can decide what we want to do and when we want to do it. We no longer have the stresses and lack of control over our lives that we had as teachers. We are mixing with interesting people from all over the world and are constantly stimulated.

We have time to read, write, communicate with friends, work on our website, yet still have lots of time for adventures and relaxation.

What are the biggest lessons and moments you’ve had so far on this journey?

You can live an exciting life on not much money in many parts of the world with very little possessions.

Our biggest mistake was not doing it sooner.

Our proudest moment was when we received acknowledgement from people we respected that we were on the right track.

What do you think has been critical in your journey?

Both Jon and I are optimistic people who are willing to take calculated risks and have a sense of adventure. We are also willing to appreciate the occasional short-comings when living in third world countries. We have a love of people and other cultures.

If people want to follow in our footsteps they would need a similar attitude and a source of regular income. We rent out our apartment in Australia to fund our new life.

What is your top tip for staying motivated and inspired?

At this stage of our journey living in Phuket,  Thailand, our surroundings and new friends are a constant source of stimulation. We always have the option to move on. The world is a huge place and we have endless travel options.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you started this journey?

We wish we had known how many fantastic, affordable places there are in the world.  We are continually surprised at the incredible power of the internet to source cheap accommodation and flights.

What’s next?

This year after our 5 months in South East Asia we will fly to London for Wimbledon, the Olympics, Tour de France and the Running of the Bulls.

After that we will continue to explore other amazing places in the world, meeting lots of travelers who are also exploring the world and learn from them too.

We will look for interesting, cheap accommodation and helpful tips for budget travelers. Via our website Teach or Beach, we hope to inspire others to take a leap of faith and follow their dreams.

Inspired yet?! Check out Jen and Jenny’s journey on their website: Teach or Beach.

If you like it, please share it!


Speak your lovely mind!

  1. Jenny and Jon have a very interesting story and I admire that they have taken such steps to realise their dream. Maybe one day I will follow in their footsteps

  2. Jenny & Jon it is nice to see that you didn’t wait til you could afford retirement. It’s not about how much money you have but how you want to live life. I congratulate you for sharing and inspiring others to find what can be the most amazing time of their life! I say why wait.

  3. What a fantastic blog to read on a Monday morning. What a fantastic way to make your possessions work for you in order to experience the best of life.
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