Grey nomadding on a shoestring … here’s how to do it

Grey nomads on a budget

You don’t need a fortune to live the good life in the road as budget-conscious grey nomad, Phil Crockart, explains

“When we first thought about the grey nomad lifestyle we had a mortgaged three-bedroom home with a granny flat attached. We both had well paid jobs, and less than $100,000 in super.

First thing that must happen when nomadding on a shoestring is a plan and a good budget. We use MS Office (Excel) as our budget and plan spreadsheet. This lets us know when we can afford our trips and cruises. We are also very lucky nomads, because our ‘home base’ is our eldest daughter’s backyard. We pay nothing for rent (just on tap baby sitters and some house cleaning and the odd spot of vineyard/electrical work), so there is plenty of opportunity to save for the things that make grey nomadding a joy.

I am happy to share our income streams. Firstly I get a disability pension from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. It’s not a lot but the income stream is welcome. Also, we are both on a full aged pension. Centrelink lets us pick up an advance every six months that boosts the immediate coffers as required. Mind you, our pensions drop a bit as we pay this back, but not enough to be a burden.

Because we have free rent at home base, our expenditure each fortnight is minimal. We have good internet and communications ie. iPad, iPhones, and a mobile broadband dongle. This is our biggest expense. Our weekly shopping is within a budget most times. We buy clothes when needed and the usual birthday presents for two kids and four grandies.

We try to take a cruise every 12 months. The last few have been South Pacific, New Zealand and relatively close to home. In 2018, we have planned (and paying off) a major cruise to Seattle, then Alaska. This will take a long time to pay as it is not cheap. We asked our travel agent if we could pay them off and a schedule with a pay-by-date was set up. All this works a treat. Our nomadding activities are curtailed during this time, so every 10 weeks at home we try to take a week at free camps.

This is something we would not be 100% prepared for. We have ambulance cover only.  I am lucky enough to have a gold card which covers all my medical issues (I have severe arthritis and a few other health issues). Touch wood, my wife is in reasonable health and a public patient. It’s comforting that, in an emergency, she is covered.

We have the best cover for both the tug and our caravan (both of which we own). We thought it wise to take out the more expensive insurance as the benefits far outweigh the cost.

It’s a real irony that we now live week by week. At the time of writing this we are safe in a caravan park after a good trip (our last till after the cruises). The bank account, wallet/ purse and piggy bank are all anorexic and nearly empty. The good news is that it’s pension day soon and we can travel again.

Many people we meet up with tend to put a large amount of money away ‘just in case’. That’s fine if there are a few dollars there to spare. I guess our attitude is: “it’s made round to go around”. We love supporting small communities when we can and always make sure we put a fiver in the donation box at free camps. A number of unfortunate financial disasters (we had our own business for a number of years) have led us to this situation, however, we are happy and contented with our lifestyle. You don’t need money to make fun … it’s free to sit around a campfire at night and spin yarns with new friends. Just do it!”


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