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12 March 2024

Retiring to a World of Travel with a “Lock-and-Leave” Lifestyle

In over 50’s communities around Australia, a growing number of residents are discovering the joys of a “lock-and-leave” lifestyle – downsizing to a comfortable, conveniently-sized home while taking off on exciting adventures around the country or overseas. This lifestyle offers a host of advantages, combining the benefits of home ownership with the excitement of exploration and travel.

Land lease communities, in particular, offer the perfect way to achieve this lifestyle. In these communities, residents own their homes while leasing the land, providing a cost-effective and stress-free living arrangement. With comparatively little upkeep and strong support systems to assure security while away from home, owners find comfort in knowing their homes are kept safe and in good order while away on their trips and travels.

Garrick and Janise’s Story

Port Macquarie locals Garrick and Janise Evans are avid travellers who truly epitomise the appeal of a lock-and-leave lifestyle. Eleven years ago, they traded a larger property in Newcastle for a low-maintenance home in Hometown Australia’s The Retreat community near Port Macquarie’s picturesque Flynns Beach, and say they couldn’t be happier with the choice.

Port Macquarie is one of the country’s most popular and sought-after retirement destinations, with its perfect climate, beautiful beaches and lifestyle attractions. According to Garrick and Janise, “Newcastle was busy. Too busy! We always liked Port Macquarie and we came across The Retreat while driving around. The house was for sale, we rang up to enquire and that was it!”

The couple raised a large family before retiring and say their five sons share a love of travel and exploration. “They’ve likely inherited their wanderlust from Garrick, who was in the army for 20 years,” Janise laughs.

As adults, the boys have settled in different parts of the country from Darwin and South Australia to the Hunter Valley in NSW. Rather than dwelling on the downsides of the distance between them, Garrick and Janise say it’s an opportunity for regular travel, and it means they can combine their love of adventure with much-anticipated family time.

“It’s been great because now, in our retirement, it’s given us places to go and things to do,” Janise says. “And here at The Retreat, we have a three-bedroom place that caters for when our family comes to us.”

Adventures Around Australia and Asia

The couple often take off for months at a time by caravan, car or plane. Whether it’s a road trip across Australia or excursions around Asia, they indulge their travel bug without worrying about being away from home for lengthy periods. As of this year, the Evanses estimate that they’ve clocked up more than four trips around Australia. “A round trip to see the kids means that we go through South Australia up to Darwin and back down to the Hunter Valley. So that in itself takes us through a big part of the country,” Garrick says.

“While we try to incorporate visits to our children, there’s still a lot more to see,” Janise adds. “If we stop in a place for a week or more, we tend to explore within a 100 to 150km radius.”

Travelling regularly means they’re familiar with the rhythm of long road trips and have found fellow travellers to be a great source of support. “Going up the Stuart Highway, the truckies are fantastic,” Janise says. “And just about everywhere we’ve travelled, all the way across the Nullarbor, everybody stops to talk to you. At our age, it’s a given. We tend to stop at places where there’s a dozen or more other caravaners or campers because there’s safety in numbers.”

The couple discovered that Darwin was also a convenient place to “hop on a plane” and explore Asia. “It’s cheap to fly from there and see places like Singapore, Thailand or Bali,” they add.

Community Living

While regular travel can cause some people to worry about their homes’ security while away, the Evanses have never had an issue. Not only have they returned to find things as they left them, but they also have a safety net at The Retreat thanks to their fellow residents.

The tight-knit community and watchful eye of dedicated staff allow them to confidently lock their doors and set off on their adventures. As Janise says, “We’d only been at The Retreat for 3 or 4 months before we headed out for our first trip, and when we got back we had so many people walking past and saying “We checked on your house! Our immediate neighbours are very good. They pick up parcels, come around and water the garden and check the fridge and freezer. The neighbour opposite mows our lawns.” “We can’t fault the community around us. We can honestly go out and know the place is going to be OK.” And the favour is returned when neighbours need a helping hand. “My friend around the corner will be going away soon and I’ll go around and check on her place for her,” Janise adds.

The Evanses have made friends at The Retreat who share their passion for travel. “There are a handful of caravaners here and we know another couple around the corner who do regular trips. There’s also a group that loves cruising and goes away two or three times a year on cruise trips,” they say.

Life Between Travels

Garrick and Janise say it’s been easy to enjoy life between their regular trips since there’s so much to do both within the community and around Port Macquarie.

“I was on the social committee,” Janise says, “And I’m known as the dessert expert. At Christmas and New Year – all the functions – I do the desserts. Coming from a big family it’s something I know well. I also go to bingo and the craft group. And then there’s croquet and swimming and pool games. Something is going on all the time.” “We have a community veggie garden too,” Garrick adds.

“There’s also a lot of activity in Port Macquarie – sporting events, fun runs, bike rides, football. Every sport you can think of is here,” Janise says. “And with the university (Charles Sturt now has a campus in Port Macquarie) it’s growing bigger. One of the great things about the area now, especially for retirees, is that there’s a complete range of medical services. You don’t have to travel to see a specialist anymore.”

The couple also appreciate that there are so many restaurants and cafes to choose from. “I’ve got a friend who lives over in Laurieton and we try and pick a new place every time she comes to visit. We haven’t doubled up yet!” Janise says. Garrick also mentions Port Macquarie’s excellent climate and the fact that the community is right near an excellent beach and within easy reach of other interesting towns like Laurieton, Wauchope and North Haven.

The Lock-and-Leave Lifestyle at The Retreat

The Retreat at Port Macquarie provides the ideal backdrop for the lock-and-leave lifestyle, offering a sanctuary where residents can enjoy the best of both worlds with life in a supportive community and fulfilment through travel.

Whether you plan to take off around the country in a caravan or motorhome, set sail on the cruise of a lifetime or visit overseas destinations you’ve always dreamt of, making one of our communities your home base is a decision you won’t regret. Homes come with a choice of facades and features and you get to reap the benefits of land lease living with no council rates, stamp duty, or exit fees. You also retain all capital gains on sale.

To learn more about The Retreat visit the website here.

This article has been written in partnership with Downsizing.com.au. 

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