This page is about me and how my husband, Wayne and I discovered Sedgefield! Approximately 35 years ago a work associate offered her colleagues a timeshare week on the Garden Route she couldn’t make use of that year.
Surprised that I was the only one who was keen, I accepted the offer and took my family – father, mother and sister (my husband couldn’t get leave) off on a 2 week holiday.
It was 2500 kms round trip so it seemed a bit far to go for just one week so I found another week’s accommodation at another resort close by.
We had such a great holiday. We are all nature lovers and were blown away by the outdoor activities and the beauty of the area.
By the time we returned, I had bought us our own week of timeshare (speaking to my husband, on site over the phone) at a new timeshare that was being built on the cliffs at Wilderness overlooking the Indian Ocean.
That began years of holidaying along the Garden Route, incorporating it at times with trips to Cape Town and up the Atlantic seaboard to see the West Coast flowers.
I have many photos of happy faces when we arrived and dejected faces the day we left. The time always went too quickly and it got increasingly difficult to leave.
We did go to other places some years, various game reserves like the Kruger Park – also love that place - and to visit long time friends who had emigrated from Zimbabwe and South Africa to Australia and New Zealand respectively.
But we always suffered “withdrawal symptoms” when we missed a year of coming to Sedgefield.
There was always so much to do and our days were crammed with outdoor activities from sunrise to sunset. We needed to go home for a rest!
We started looking at houses and then vacant land and after a few false starts eventually found our perfect stand across the road from the Swartvlei Lagoon at Sedgefield in 2002.
When we put in an offer which was accepted, we were over the moon. Suddenly our dream of having a home on the Garden Route looked like it was going to become real.
Wayne had always planned on retiring around 55 and he was 3 years past that timeline. Then my company that had been situated in an adjacent town 15 minutes from where we lived in Heidelberg, Gauteng, for 40 years, decided to relocate to Boksburg.
This was about an hour away (one way) depending on the traffic. This added 2 hours to my day – I was not happy! My accounting job often meant, long hours at work, and nightmare traffic to face at the beginning and end of it. My quality of life had gone down the tubes!
For a few years I'd been considering that a holistic concept of wealth is more than money in the bank and far more than material possessions. Richness is found in meaningful relationships, pursuing new experiences and taking time to appreciate the beauty that presents itself in ordinary everyday things.
I had started focusing on what mattered to me, what I wanted, not what I didn't want! Events transpired that opened up an opportunity to substantially redesign our lives ....for the better!
Changes at my husband’s work had made him restless. We did our sums, made some sacrifices and brought our retirement forward. It is worth saying that one can make life as simple or complicated as one likes.
However, the more expensive one's tastes, wants and desires, the longer and harder one needs to work in order to obtain them. Ultimately we decide through the choices we make, what matters to us.
"The way you live each day is eventually the way you live your life."
In May 2006 a contractor started building our house in Sedgefield and by December it was completed. We sold our house in Heidelberg, Gauteng in January 2007 and the transfer was registered in May.
We handed in our notices at work and the middle of July, with our staffie, Duke, we moved lock, stock and barrel to Sedgefield.
The saddest thing for me was, my mother dying on 1 July 2007, losing her 2 year battle with cancer. She would have loved living in Sedgefield! I'm just glad for the memories of all the many happy holidays she shared with us in this, her favourite part of the world.
My Dad didn't manage very well without her but he spent the last few years of his life in the good care of Sedgemeer Park Retirement home. It was just across the road from our house and I was able to visit him almost every day in the Frail Care Centre until he passed away peacefully in June 2012. He was 90 years old.
Advisers and retirement books always warn you about moving to another
part of the world when you retire – leaving family and friends behind –
often it doesn’t work out – you’re lonely, its too different, it isn’t
what you expected etc. etc.
"But suddenly you know, it's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings...."
It was easy for us to leave the rat-race and daily predictable grind behind.
When we arrived in Sedgefield we spent two weeks in our holiday flat, a roomy and comfortable space that Wayne decided to build on top of our 3 garages. Hanging curtain rails throughout the house was of necessity, our first priority.
It also gave us a chance to see what holidaymakers would experience when they stayed in our studio and to furnish and equip it to provide our guests with a comfortable even luxurious home-from-home stay.
Then we gradually unpacked our boxes, hung our pictures and placed our worldly possessions into the right spaces to make our house feel like a home.
"Instead of planning your next vacation set up a life there is no need to escape from."
I took to our new life like a duck to water – no regrets, no looking back. It took Wayne a while to get used to the freedom of being his own boss every day!
Duke, our wonderful staffie, that Wayne had rescued from a more than miserable existence when aged 15 months, was immediately in 7th heaven.
The only thing he prefers to 4 paws, i.e. being walked every day by Wayne to the beach, is four wheels i.e. going somewhere, anywhere in the car with us. In fact our 2nd hand 4X4 is nick-named Dukie’s Suzuki!
It’s turned out the best decision for all of us! Every day it just gets better. We have a great circle of friends. There’s a wonderful sense of community in Sedgefield and an inexhaustible number of things to do.
We actually have to be careful not to get over-involved. The environment is second to none – and living along the lagoon is like being on holiday every day. I have to pinch myself to believe I’m living this SIMPLY WONDERFUL life.
We have lived circumspectly knowing this “If your outflow exceeds your inflow, your upkeep will be your downfall” and we need to consider inflation and monetary devaluation in order to avoid the possibility of outliving our money.... but that hasn't stopped us enjoying ourselves.
In 2009, we did a 2½ month camping safari in Namibia that had us travelling 11912kms before we were finished. It was an awesome experience. I kept a diary and you can read about some legs of our Namibian adventure here.
At the back of my mind I've known that once I'd given my "working persona" a good break - like a year or so, I was going to look for some fun thing to do to earn me money - a kind of insurance policy you could say - so that we can refrain from putting strain on our pension funds early on.
Gosh, were we right to be careful! The whole world economy took a dive as 2007 progressed and it affected everyone in a kind of unavoidable domino reaction. The people who have survived best, let's face it, are those who live on a cash basis, who live simply and don't spend more than they earn.
Nevertheless there are escalating costs that one isn't always prepared for like huge increases facing South Africans in the cost of electicity, fuel increases, revaluation of property using different criteria so hikes in rates and taxes - we now pay for rates and taxes what we used to pay off a bond - how ridiculous is that?
"Time is too short to put off living a meaningful life for some ideal future tending to hover on the horizon. There will always be challenges, good days and bad days, but if you love what you do, your enthusiasm and positivity helps you to excavate resources within you to weather the storms and arrive at a good outcome."
Fortunately we have in place a few different streams of income because of the old adage "Don't put all your eggs in one basket". It turned out to be a sound strategy.
At the same time increasing one's multiple streams of income, if you can do it, is a good thing although I don't believe in taking risks with non-renewable sources of income. Such a venture has to be a sensible one and not a "get-rich-quick-scheme" that loses you your savings or investments.
I have always enjoyed writing so have considered creating a website but was stumped by my lack of know-how. It was by a lucky strike of fortune that I found the ideal online company to show me how to do it the right way!
Now I’ve got the time to do it and I have a topic I’m passionate about. And 12 years down the road with Solo Build It, I have no regrets whatsoever that I chose them to guide me and I would still unequivocally recommend SBI today.
If you're interested you can find out about my personal journey with Solo Build It and how to do it for yourself!
We have never regretted our decision to leave the rat race of the corporate world in exchange for a much simpler life. It may not suit everyone, but it's worked perfectly for us.
We can explore the beauty of this Garden Route wonderland at leisure and pursue a number of interests there was no time for when we were working. We're also still young and healthy enough to actively engage in our interests.
15 years into our retirement, I appreciate this more than ever - Today is a gift - that is why it is called the present - it is all you can count on. Don't delegate things that matter to some other time - they may never happen.