Adrienne and Chris Atkinson

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We have all, at some stage, day-dreamed about giving up our day jobs and running away to a sunny, tropical island.

Yet, not many people do more than book a brief mid-winter break. Not so for Adrienne and Chris Atkinson, who live a lifestyle that many would envy.

The 60-somethings made a radical decision after Chris turned 65. Although seven years younger than her husband, Chris suggested they both retire and go “live the dream”.

“We were both in stressful, high-pressure jobs,” Adrienne says. “With Chris working shifts we never saw each other during the week, and knew several friends, younger than us, who had either passed away unexpectedly or been diagnosed with terminal illnesses. We knew we had to make a change.”

Finding an island to call home

Their dream involved moving to the Cook Islands for six months each year, specifically to a tiny outer island called Aitutaki.

“We had holidayed in the Cook Islands for the past 11 years, usually spending a few days on Aitutaki and the more we travelled there, the longer we would stay,” Adrienne says.

The quieter way of life, the friendly locals and getting out of the New Zealand winter finally won them over. And although New Zealanders can’t purchase property there, Chris and Adrienne were able to secure long-term rental on a house.

Dual lifestyle suits to a T

Bouncing between two countries has had huge benefits for the Boomers’ wellbeing.

“When we are in Aitutaki we don't suffer from the winter ills and chills, we eat ample fresh fruit and veges, and fresh fish. We exercise more often, with long walks along the beach, and swimming,” Adrienne says.

Adding to this is the friendliness of the Aitutakians who share a smile and stop for a friendly chat. “We join in the local activities and traditions and have been totally accepted by the local folk, which is very humbling.”

Back in New Zealand they enjoy connecting with friends and family (four children from previous marriages between them) – but don’t miss much else!

“Inconsiderate drivers, road rage, endeavouring to find a car park, all annoy me considerably now,” Adrienne says. “As do supermarkets, shopping trolleys, malls and queues – I think I may have left my patience in the islands!”

The difference makes them appreciate the Cook Islands lifestyle to the point where Adrienne and Chris can’t envisage their lifestyle changing in the near future.

“We plan to carry on living in the two countries as long as it is physically possible!”

 

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