‘I sold my house and replaced northeast England with southeast Asia’

Steve (R) with a friend on December 20, 2022 in Nha Trang, Vietnam - Steve Irwin

Steve (R) with a friend on December 20, 2022 in Nha Trang, Vietnam – Steve Irwin

Fed up with the cost of living crisis and Britain’s cold climate, 75-year-old Telegraph reader Steve Irwin has sold his home in Morpeth, northeast England, and embarked on a solo adventure in Southeast Asia.

A retired charter amount researcher, Steve is no stranger to traveling as he has spent most of his life outside the UK. Speaking from his current base in Nha Trang, Vietnam, he says what appeals most is its simplicity. “All I have to do is two things: decide what to wear in the morning and where to eat. It feels great.

“I read the newspaper in bed, then I take a shower and have breakfast. Then I go for my daily walk along the beach and meet my friend at this Louisiane Brewhouse, a bar and restaurant with a pool and loungers.

“I don’t have to dust, vacuum, cook, clean or do laundry and ironing – oh my God, what a waste of time all this is!”

Steve, who bought a new house in 2018 after his divorce, talks about how he spends almost no time there and prefers to travel. But then Covid came and he had to resist his explorer nature and stay where he was.

“I was stuck until about the beginning of 2021 until I traveled again. So I went to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia for four months and when I got back to the UK I put the house up for sale.

“I don’t know many people in the UK and the cost of living crisis and inflation were the last straw – the amount of money going into bills was very worrying.”

With a wide smile on his face, he describes the “pleasant 15 minutes” he spent canceling all his debts after completing the sale of the house. “They reached £4,000 a month and that was before gas and electricity were hiked.”

When traveling, Steve’s budget is £3,000 a month. He sold his house for £246,000 but has yet to invest that money. Instead, he finances his travels with government and private pensions and some small investments.

“I’m in a lucky situation and the money is coming in a little quicker than when I’m gone. This hotel I’m in now, I pay £23 a day to stay here. I would normally spend even less,” Steve explains. “You have lots of options for up to £30 a night.”

He also highlights how cheap life is in Vietnam: “If I have breakfast in the morning, it’s £4-5 this morning. And for dinner, I spent £8 last night.”



When asked if there is anything he misses in the UK besides his children and grandchildren, Steve gives an unequivocal no. “The cost of living crisis was the last straw. But I’m also sick of snow, ice and cold weather. So I thought: that’s it – I’m out of here.”

However, he explains how he failed to support the Three Lions on their World Cup journey in Qatar: “Quarter-final with France was three in the morning where I was and I couldn’t find a hotel showing it. He had to follow it on the Telegraph livestream.

“I was overjoyed when I read the referee’s decision to give England a second penalty. Then I had to wait three minutes to read the two most depressing words in English: ‘Kane misses’.”

As for the future, Steve’s journey won’t end anytime soon: “If I’m in good health, I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing. My money from the house has been set aside because at some point in my life I’m going to need another house but I’m in no rush.”

His “loose plan” is to eventually buy a house or flat in Spain: “Spain provides me with free medical care like in the UK, so that’s the thinking there, and it’s not far off for my kids to come out and visit them. I wish I lived here.” I could never see it, so Spain is a compromise.”

Steve’s son encouraged him to go and enjoy the world – “Go! Spend your hard-working money!” — but her daughter struggled when her father, who had just spent money renovating her home, decided to sell it.

“It’s not enough to have beautiful furniture and a beautiful garden when you live alone,” explains Steve.

At the end of January, he will be returning to England for the big event of the year: his son’s wedding in February. He has not yet decided where he will go after the celebration, but he is not lacking in ideas.

“I’ve never been to Turkey and it’s easy to get there as there is no visa issue, so that might be my next destination. I’ll just have to check if it’s too cold.”

Dreaming of leaving Britain behind for a solo adventure? Or have you already done it? Please join the conversation in the comments section and share your experiences using the form below.

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