I love travelling, including a relaxing cruise, and talking to people about their travel plans. So, I was intrigued by the news story of Angelyn and Richard Burk, a Seattle couple who retired and sold their home to permanently live on cruise ships.
Mr Burk told a new channel that:
“We love to travel and we were searching for a way to continuously travel in our retirement that made financial sense. Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older.”
When the cruise-loving couple crunched the numbers, they calculated that it could cost them as little as £35 per day including meals and drinks, to sail the high seas 24/7/365.
It’s all about knowing what you want, and that does take time to work out. As Mr Burk said:
“I believe this (living on a cruise ship) is achievable for the everyday cruiser, but it does take effort.”
It also takes a great deal of courage, IMHO. Angelyn and Richard have literally burned their bridges in that, unlike many who seek the sun during the winter months, they sold their home.
- They have chosen a lifestyle when they will always be guests in someone else’s space, whether on board, with family, friends or any “in between” rentals.
- They will also sever ties with their current community, swapping the social interaction with familiar faces to a constant stream of ever-changing acquaintances on board. (No bad thing, some might say!)
- They also forego many land-based activities they might enjoy that are not feasible in a short port stopover. They might be able to arrange a round of golf at a port stop-over, but access to snow fields or bowling greens may be more tricky.
- They will need to leave most of their possessions behind in storage, or sell those too. There is limited room in a cost-effective cruise ship berth, which is (at best) essentially a very small studio flat with no kitchen.
This state of independence
In the case of 24/7/365 cruising, you’ll also give up some degree of independence in that the ship follows a pre-set timetable of scheduled destinations, most of which you can only experience for 48 hours max.
What’s more, you’ll need to ensure that you have sufficient budget to afford this lifestyle for as long as you want to continue – and potentially afterwards too.
Speaking with my financial hat on, there is also the question of tax. It may be different in the US, but If you’re a UK resident:
“You can live abroad and still be a UK resident for tax, for example if you visit the UK for more than 183 days in a tax year. Pay tax on your income and profits from selling assets (such as shares) in the normal way.”
So, you may not be able to live onboard all year round, and therefore need to retain a UK base for those 183 days a year.
“You usually have to pay tax on your UK income even if you’re not a UK resident. Income includes things like:
- rental income
- savings interest
And if you’re sailing the high seas 24/7/365, where exactly are you resident for tax? It’s a grey-ish area, and you should consult your financial advisor or accountant if you’re even considering this kind of offshore lifestyle.
When The World is your home
If money is no object, then you might want to call “The largest private residential ship on the planet” your home. The World is a mega yacht with 165 residences on board, with their own veranda, up to three bedrooms each with en-suite and (yes) a kitchen. If you don’t want to cook, there are six restaurants, numerous bars and lounges, and the ship’s wine cellar holds 14,000 bottles.
Residents collectively own the ship, and with the Captain jointly plan The World’s itinerary each year. (See what’s in store for 2023 here )
An onboard community
“As time passes, neighbours become travel companions and travel companions become good friends. Residents offer one another new ways to experience the many destinations we sail to. But above all, they offer each other comfort, good company, and lots of laughter.”
I think it’s revealing that the website highlights the “comfort” of a community of fellow Residents. Retired or not, we all are part of at least one community at any given time. That community can give purpose and meaning to retirement just as much as it gives facilities, support and a sense of place in our younger years.
And since it’s perfectly possible to be lonely in a crowd, the power of “good company” should not be underestimated either. One of our team has never forgotten meeting an ex-Navy captain who practically lived on board a cruise ship, just to be on his beloved oceans. Encountering him in the ship’s corridor with a pile of clothes, he said he was off to the laundry room. ”I love it down there”, he said, “You meet the nicest people and everyone has time to sit and have a chat.”
Tempted to up sticks and choose to cruise?
If you’re tempted to up sticks and live abroad or onboard, great. All I suggest is that you:
- Check your finances, including your pension and tax position
- Give long and careful thought as to what you might leave behind beyond family, including friends, activities, hobbies, possessions, volunteering, part-time work, etc.
- Consider what part of this new lifestyle might give you a sense of purpose
If you’d like to talk through your retirement plans, contact me. Together, we can take a good look at every aspect, from when you want to start to what you want to do, and how you are going to fund it.
To me, retirement is about leading you best life with purpose, regardless of the size of your pension pot. So whilst your budget might be more dingy on The Solent that luxury cruise around South America, the process is the same.
Contact me to arrange a 1 to 1 retirement coaching session (and yes, your spouse/partner is very welcome too). I’m here to help you see the holistic picture of everything retirement can offer you, now and into the 30+ years ahead.