It’s Never too Late to Follow Your Dreams

It’s Never too Late to Follow Your Dreams

It’s never too late to follow your dreams. Moving to London at 60 was one of the best decisions of our lives.

The catalyst had been redundancy for Steve. At 61 he knew it would be difficult to get a new, comparative job and salary. For me, I was over the social norm of ‘working 9-5, five days a week until you’re 65’ and being answerable to someone else. What did we want from the rest of our lives? Both of us were relatively fit and healthy and Steve had a British passport. I started thinking outside the square.

Here was a chance to start a new chapter in our lives, embrace new experiences and explore London, in depth. A city I had loved on every visit. So much theatre, history and culture to absorb and many fabulous parks and gardens to visit. The fact Europe would be on our doorstep and only a few hours away was an even bigger attraction. The possibilities of meeting new people and the opportunities to create adventure and excitement were endless. I was getting excited. I just had to convince Steve.

Our sons were both living overseas, our home was mortgage-free and although we had a perfectly good life in Auckland, I wanted a change.

I pushed on, exploring my idea of possibly packing up and moving overseas — again. In our early 50s we’d taken estate manager roles in Southwest France and apart from a few rough months, it had been the best time of our lives. Our story was recorded in the books My French Platter and My French Platter Replenished. With nothing to lose and fabulous life experiences to gain, why not give London a go too?

Friends, Ken and Irene, who lived in York, owned a flat in London but I’d no idea where, or how often they used it. Now my idea of upping sticks and moving to London was taking shape, I sent them a message asking if they still owned it and if it might be available for us to rent.

‘You must be psychic, Annemarie,’ Ken replied. ‘The grandkids and family are moving to Edinburgh, so we’ll have no need to go to London any longer. I just said to Irene let’s put the flat on the rental market. It’s yours if you want it – in Teddington, down beside the Thames. I think you’d like it there and, it would be brilliant knowing you were looking after the place.’

That was the defining moment. Steve agreed to give London life a go and we never looked back. Flights were booked, the house packed up and rented out, insurances sorted and our cars sold. Does this sound daunting? It could be, but if you make detailed lists, work your way methodically through them, you’ll achieve it all. Give yourself a couple of months to complete everything.

We flew into Heathrow on 2 March 2018 with four suitcases and the Beast from the East – a wild storm of blizzards, drifting snow and bitter cold, causing death and destruction throughout the UK. It was the worst weather they’d had in years. That didn’t discourage us. The one-bedroom flat, in a spacious block of others, was perfectly positioned next to a beautiful park and beside the Thames. How lucky we were! Location is everything and with the bus and bustling high street just around the corner, the train to central London (Waterloo) only a 12 minute walk away, we were set.

With our new life, came lots of administration. Everything I had dismantled in New Zealand had to be recreated in London. Most important, were UK cell phone numbers and broadband. A quick visit to Three and we were set up. So many services hinged on providing a utility bill and our rental agreement, to prove where we lived. No one is ever thrilled to receive a bill, but we were, when that first power bill arrived. Clutching this, our passports and rental agreement, we presented ourselves at the NatWest bank in Kingston and opened our UK account. Next to tick off was our National Health Insurance (NHI) numbers, which would give us access to the health system. Several phone calls and two days later, these too came through and enrolment forms for the recommended doctor and dentist in the High Street had been completed and dropped off.

There’s many positives to getting older. In London one of these is the 60+ Oyster Photo ID card. This card transformed our lives while living in London; both financially and in the sense we could travel wherever we liked on all tube, bus and over-ground rail services for free, within the 1-9 London zones. There had to be a catch, right? No, there wasn’t. The only requirements are you’re 60 years of age and live in one of the London Boroughs. Our train line was the Southwestern. Unfortunately, this was the only line that restricted the use of the card before 9.30am on weekdays. The card ended up saving us thousands of pounds while we lived there. Then there’s the Senior Railcard for out of London travel …

Late Life Adventures in LondonWhat else do you need?

The right attitude. Be open to all the new experiences, embrace all that comes your way. Put yourself out there with a warmth and friendliness. What could possibly go wrong?

For us it was more a question of how long we’d be away. Would we last six months? Would we last six years? You’ll have to read Late Life Adventures in London and Beyond to find out!

To fin our more about Late Life Adventures in London and Beyond, click here.