The pensioners retiring overseas because they can’t afford Australia

The pensioners retiring overseas because they can’t afford Australia, by Eden Gillespie.

On a cobbled street in the south of Spain, Norah Ohrt lives like a typical Andalusian in a little white house with red flowers blooming from the windows.

It’s a world away from what her life would be like if she was still living in Australia. The 71-year-old former gallery owner says that in Perth she’d be living in state housing, surviving “on the smell of an oily rag on the Australian pension”.

With property prices and cost of living on the rise, the number of Australians retiring overseas has dramatically increased in the past 10 years, with swelling expat communities in Thailand, Spain and Cambodia.

In 2016, 11,660 Australians over 55 permanently relocated overseas, compared to just 7,910 in 2005, according to ABS data. The most popular retiree destinations for Australians include New Zealand, Italy, Greece and Spain.

25 years ago Australia really was a fairly low-cost country — apart from domestic airfares and phone calls, due to the Qantas/Ansett duopoly and Telstra. It was comfortably affordable for the ordinary Australian. Now look at it. Who is responsible? What class of people has been in charge? Are they struggling? No, didn’t think so.