Apr 14, 2023

NZ grey nomads prove it’s possible to live entirely on their Super

14_4_23 NZ couple HC
Irene Iwikau. [Source: Stuff]

A couple in their 60s have spent the past 15 months living in their motorhome off of  from their New Zealand Superannuation.

While the decision to sell their Whangārei home in the country’s Northland region and hit the road was motivated by financial factors, travelling around New Zealand was also a major perk for Irene and Vince Iwikau, 68. 

“Living in a house on four wheels isn’t for everyone, but we are proof that you can live on Super – and with no mortgage or rent, even save some money each fortnight,” Irene told Stuff.

“We’re not the only ones, either – we’ve met so many other retirees around New Zealand who are doing the same and finding this life energising.”

Irene is a former financial adviser and teacher, and Vince worked in the transport sector after a career in the army, and credits their success to carefully planning how to spend their retirement years and how to pay for it.

The advice they received was to plan for the maximum – because you don’t know how long you’re going to be alive – and divide that time into sections. 

“The first 10 years, if your health allows, should be spent doing all those things you want to do, but maybe never had the time to when you were working,” Irene explained.

“The second 10 years should be spent sitting in front of the TV in your Lazyboy, and the third 10 years – well, who cares, because someone else will be looking after you! ”

Often a daunting thought, the couple needed to think about this plan well before retirement age. Still paying for a mortgage, they decided that when they turned 65 and were eligible to receive their Super, they would live off that and save their earnings.

After some time living with their sons, Irene and Vince assessed their living options and decided to invest in a caravan to call home and scout for cheap plots to stay on through the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association or private paddocks.

While this required tightening the belt and becoming smart about what luxuries to indulge in, Irene described the decluttering part of the process as very cathartic. 

“Some people think that if you live in a campervan you have to eat off plastic plates, but I kept our Royal Doulton dinner plates and our crystal wine glasses. But I only need a pot and a frying pan, and, of course, we kept our fishing gear,” Irene said.

The couple has since been all over the North Island and as far south as Christchurch. They now have the freedom to wake up to a new view every day and visit family and friends they didn’t have time for when they worked. 

“Retirement should be an exciting time, not sitting around waiting to die!” Irene said.

“I know many retirees aren’t in a position to do this and are still renting or paying a mortgage and I feel for them. 

“Yes, retirement is a scary time because you’re making a change to the next stage of life. But my mantra has always been, feel the fear and do it anyway.”

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  1. In Australia we can live on our pension, paying rent, running 2 cars and no other income. Can be tight but we also save a few dollars.

  2. I wish I could do the same but I just can’t “declutter” (1000s of books, research papers, etc) nor can I turn my back on social injustice & persecution of the innocent Palestinian children.

  3. No mortgage or rent, not sure about that, if you own your home you have no mortgage or rent, you have fuel costs ,rego,insurance,park fees, incidental costs, repair and so forth for the motorhome, bit more to the story, you can make anything sound rosy if you juggle the facts, but good luck to you enjoy life it goes quickly

  4. My partner and I have been retired for 5yrs and are still paying a mortgage and we do at least 2 x6 to 8 week trips year we chose not to down size and have set our hilux up as our camper ( no towing )
    “Doing it on a pension.”


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