Unretirement: Prolong work life with switch to the country
UNRETIREES Stuart and Robin Cumming have left behind much of their old inner-city life to move to another state where the living is easier, the outlook healthy and enjoying work into older age a reality.
The couple moved in February to Silver Creek on the green rolling plains below the Victorian Alps, settling into a 10ha bushland property only 4km from the historic gold rush town of Beechworth.
Frenetic Sydney with its push-me, pull-me attitude made them start to feel claustrophobic which they decided simply wasn't an attractive scene for the two soon-to-be 60-year-old business couple.
They had lived in the same eastern suburbs home for 29 years with their daughter Catherine, but over time Stuart said the people around them were getting too aggressive.
"Everything was money. It was unpleasant," Stuart said.
"We had been stressed at work for a long time and I think it was getting too hard," Robin said.
"Trying to keep up a standard of living in the city just didn't appeal anymore," she added.
By late last year Stuart's family boutique catalogue agency was winding down as the advertising market changed which meant both he, and Robin who was the finance manager, were forced to look at their working futures and retirement.
A previous financial interest in the Indigo Vineyard at Beechworth and a close friendship with its general manager helped Robin and Stuart to make the relocation choice to a very different climate and home.
"It's free range retirement down here; we're not requiring the mobility scooters yet" Stuart chuckled.
"The neighbours are mainly escapees from Melbourne because it is only three hours away.
"Beechworth is also a growing town with good health facilities."
To kick-start their new semi-retirement future they formed Silver Creek Marketing.
Utilising Stuart's consumer marketing and strategic planning skills with Robin's accounting and administration experience, the couple are using this platform to move forward, with a variation on their past work life, and with tweaking courtesy of their new home.
"There are even more options on the menu in that direction, albeit requiring trips to Sydney and maybe even Melbourne as that fertile retail marketing market opens up," Stuart said.
The couple have also "inherited" three goats, some hens and about three hundred protea and lucedrendron trees.
And now three alpacas which was the idea of daughter Catherine, 29, who is very supportive of her parent's new home which she visits from Sydney whenever she can.
It's been a quick learning process for Robin and Stuart about living on a property habituated by waratahs and proteas and what to do with the trees which the previous owner planted.
Selling the flowers into the local florist shop is the first move. "We are learning," the happy couple both said.
Stuart's other work interests include keeping his hand in at the old firm, Cumming Agency & Studios, working as a consultant and working with a private school in Sydney and another in northern NSW on developing understandable and deliverable strategic plans.
And last month he was appointed to the Beechworth Community Bank/Bendigo Bank board to assist with strategic marketing.
"I see this as a good entrée to developing a network down here," Stuart said.
Robin is enjoying the break from full-time work. Instead she is supporting Stuart in his projects and looking into how to improve the flower growing business which she sees as becoming a lucrative side business.
"What is retirement? I am working harder than I ever had as I have all these projects on," Stuart said.
"If retirement means non-paid activity, then we are certainly not retired. It helps us to be paid."
"We are keen to keep the connection of work," Robin said.
"Stuart particularly enjoys the intellectual stimulation of his various projects.
"We are keen to keep it going, just not at the same intensity as we had previously.
"The fact that the responsibility is just us and not a number of other people that we are employing, it's a very big relief.
"We are very much in control of our destiny and nobody else's. Stuart and I can go any direction we like which is exciting and a little bit scary.
"We see it as a new direction; a new lease on life," Robin added.