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Retired dentist Michael Kenny (71) and wife Barbara (69), a former nurse, have well and truly found their groove, after making the bold move to leave behind their family and friends and relocate to the Philippines to retire eight years ago.
For the Kennys, retirement is chocker block with activity, excitement and contentment. In between regular ballroom dancing classes, beach trips, gym sessions, playing pool billiards, 5-star dinners with their growing number of expat friends, indulging in massages and pampering sessions, and either heading back home to see their family or playing host to them when they come to visit, retired life couldn’t get much better.
It might sound like being permanently on holidays, but Michael and Barbara are insistent they came to the Philippines to continue living with purpose – and that’s exactly what they’ve achieved for their retirement.
According to the Kennys, the key to finding purpose in life after work is equal parts keeping busy, active and social.
We’ve found lots of hobbies in retirement, including pool billiards, bowling and even ballroom dancing which we do twice a week, though that’s with varying degrees of success, Michael laughed. Barbara is a wonderful dancer, but I always joke that Caucasian men can’t swing their hips to really master the art of Latin American dancing. But I have a heap of fun trying and that’s the main thing. And for this social duo, moving away from their family and friends wasn’t the huge adjustment they were expecting.
We've made so many wonderful friends here that we really never feel lonely.
We have two main groups of friends – the first is our “47 club” – and that consists of five expat couples, and within each couple one person was born in 1947. We were all friends anyway but we were able to make the group exclusive and refuse entry to anyone who didn’t meet our born in 1947 requirement – and that’s not in a mean way. We just figure that 10 people is the perfect number to go out with once a month for fine dining and be able to have a good conversation with.
Our second group is made up of about 200 expats – so it’s a much busier and lively affair when we get together.
When it comes to their quality of life in the Philippines, Michael and Barbara want for nothing.
It’s pretty fair to say that we enjoy a quality of life here that would be unattainable back home.
We rent in a beautiful 3-bedroom bungalow in a gated community for around $1,000 AUD a month, and we have a lovely housekeeper Agnes who does all our cooking, cleaning, washing and maintenance for us – all for about $300 AUD a month. Then once a month we each have a massage, pedicure, manicure and foot scrub – for about $30 AUD. The fact that everything is so much cheaper here meant we were able to retire earlier than would have been possible back home.
To top it off, the quality, accessibility and cost of health care here is really good, so we don’t have that worry as we get older, Michael said.
Barbara said they always knew they wanted to retire somewhere warm, but knew that the cost of living would really dictate where they ended up. Plus our other daughter, her husband and three children live in Australia, so we knew we’d never feel isolated from family in the Philippines.
We did a couple of extended “reccie” trips to visit Tim here in Cebu so we could get a proper feel for the place, and it made us more and more interested in the Philippines.
Cebu is one of 7,000 islands in the Philippines, and the second biggest city in the country in population stakes. It’s a bustling and busy city in all ways, but located just 40 minutes from stunning white sand beaches and beautiful dive spots.
But it’s not just the glow of sunshine in the Philippines that has Michael and Barbara smiling.
I’m the first to admit that since I retired, my personality has really shined, Michael said. When we first moved here, I was a bit of a grump really. I used to complain a lot and grumble about silly things. Here my patience has blossomed, I’ve relaxed a lot and I’ve learned to smile again.
I don’t know if it’s the island life, but whatever it is I’m grateful for it.
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