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Dr. Fiona Chen
Dr. Fiona Chen, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Finance
Satisfied Customers: 482
Experience:  Former IRS Revenue Agent
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I live IN one of the most expensive places in the world. New

Customer Question

I live IN one of the most expensive places in the world. New Zealand. I am approaching 60 and all I have is a $650,000 home that when sold will leave me with about half a million to live off of for the rest of my life. I am a widow and at the moment I am renting for $340.00 per week. Keep in mind that the cost of living here and housing is astronomical.
If I push it I can probably get a 2 bedroom house for about $350,000. I am unemployed and because of the earthquakes here in Christchurch, it's really hard to even get your CV/application looked at. There are hundreds of applicants per listing. What should I do going forward financially? I understand if you have to do some research first. Kind regards, Joanne
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Finance
Expert:  Dr. Fiona Chen replied 12 months ago.

Dear Living in New Zealand,

I am going to need a little more information for me to consider and respond to your question.

I will send you a list of questions soon.


Fiona Chen, MPA, Ph.D., CPA, ABV, CFF, CITP

Expert:  Dr. Fiona Chen replied 12 months ago.

Questions, please respond:

1) Are you a U.S. citizen?

2) Are you a New Zealand permanent resident or citizen?

3) Can you qualified for any type of spousal retirement payment under your deceased husband?

4) Do you have any possible retirement in the U.S.?

5) What made you send an inquiry to this website and what other advice you have gotten?

6) Have you married to anyone else under the relationship with whom you may be able to qualify for spousal retirement benefit?

7) What is the perspective of your health insurance coverage now and after say age 65?

8) What other countries you might have worked in which may allow you for some type of retirement no matter how long you have worked in that country?

9) What is the common age for people around you to retire? What do most people rely on when they retire? I mean that in the community you currently live. Any particular reason for you to stay in New Zealand in stead of some place else? Do you have close relatives and/or friends some place (in the world)?

10) Are you renting out your house of 650,000, and is that why you are renting weekly for 340 per week? From what income source or savings, you get the 340 per week?

Please respond to help me think.

Thank you.



Customer: replied 12 months ago.
No,, I am a Canad***** *****ving in New Zealand as a permanent resident.I am a widow and because I have a property I cannot apply for any assistance. I use the rent from my rental to pay my rent. Te retirement age here is 65 at the moment but it keeps changing. I do not have any funds anywhere.All of my family is here so moving is out of the question. I have friends in Canada. I lost my cash investments during the 2008 crash. I will get a pension eventually but it's not much. I have already sold my other house that I had built becuase of my financial situation and I cant find employemnt even tough I am a very healthy 60 year old.
Expert:  Dr. Fiona Chen replied 12 months ago.

Dear Canadian in New Zealand,

I just wrote a lot of suggestions and plans. Not sure what happened that they all disappeared once I touched a key. I will redraft. But if you receive two copies, you know why. I will draft shorter paragraphs and sent it forward so that it will not be a long essay and disappear on me.

1) According to the website, New Zealand's health care is pretty good but may not be complete. Consider to use Canadian system as well. I stay in Canada for a short time in YWCA. I was impressed on how clean and how reasonable the cost was. Try to utilize whatever you can in that system. Maybe there would be health care provider can provide condensed and scheduled services when you visit.

2) Don't sell the rental house. It is young and fashionable now to rent. If you can keep the current arrangement, you can maintain this standard of living for a long, long time. It was a smart move. Then, you will always have that 650,000. Of course, you have to upkeep it.

3) Plan that tomorrow will be worse than today. We are trained and used to plan tomorrow will be better and should be better than today, which is not always true. With our age and the current global economy, we need to plan that tomorrow could be and would be worse than today. Changing the perspective will make things easier.

4) Reduce the standard of living. No iphone, ipod, etc. Use public library and public transportation. Reduce travel and eating out, etc. One good thing about being senior is that many things are reduced price for seniors which we were not used to notice before.

I am sending this part now. More to come.


Expert:  Dr. Fiona Chen replied 12 months ago.

5) It seems that you have relatives and friends but not children. Without an heir, we are without true fall back. Plan accordingly. Treat your relatives' and friends' children nicely. When we are in our 80s and 90s, they could be the ones visiting us and coordinating our care.

6) Be open minded on getting married again. There is nothing wrong with that and there is fine meeting people over internet.

7) As to the income side, be self-employed. I will provide several ideas.

a) Go into something relating to food. Plant vegetables and sell them. Prepare food for restaurant or retail store. Oh, if you are healthy, you may be able to find jobs in this industry. Less resume needed. When economy is not good, such as in the U.S., we have only three industries left, health care, food, and computer.

b) If you wrote and prepared manuscripts before, maybe you can publish them, e.g., using They provide all costs and services and let the author keep 75%. But in general, their price is very low. Children's book, cook book, etc. Look into's publication. They are not that difficult. You can start with smaller and short ones. Some of the publications are like just several, less than 100 pages. If you can write novels, you would be blessed. One good thing about your situation is that you don't have a current, urgent condition.

c) Use internet to contact companies in China, etc. or Canada to arrange travel groups in both ways. You don't have to organize large groups. A small group may give you some commission and you can start into the industry.

d) Consult with Canada's chamber of commerce and New Zealand's organizations in the similar capacity to ask for ideas. New Zealand is a beautiful place and not many people know about it. This country has a lot to export.

Remember when you are going into business activities, do not put up your own money. This is very important.

Part III will come soon.

Expert:  Dr. Fiona Chen replied 12 months ago.

e) Tourist industry may be a good field to enter. Also, sales and marketing will be a good field to go in. Go into a field that you don't have to put up cost and investment, and they don't have to pay you salary. Be willing to be on pure and 100% commission. You have to know and trust the product.

f) Look around you and pray -- and see what you can do. There is an artist website here which allow photographers and artists to publish and sell the pictures on line. Can you do this? There is very little cost. You take pictures and place on line. Use PayPal to receive payment. The website usually already set up to allow individual users to set up their websites and receive payment. It is just everyone is selling different art work, but design is the same. I know a photographer does not allow download. She use mailing to send actual pictures and she charges by the size and mailing cost.

g) It is popular here and could be fine in your area, too. You may not need to go international. That is to purchase from estate sales and to sell on line. The goods can be all kind of collectibles.

h) Go into senior citizen care. This is a huge industry to come. We are at our best age to do the job. When we are young, we may not be patient enough to realize the need. This area you can do self-employed much easier by putting your name out or placing simple ad or asking nurses or doctors to refer you clients. Help them to shop, help to company for doctor visit, house cleaning, food preparation, etc. You got the idea.

Part IV to come.

Expert:  Dr. Fiona Chen replied 12 months ago.

8) Do not do investment. We don't have enough to lose or to hold. The house you have is a very good investment. Real estate is solid.

9) Once you are familiar in one industry, you may start to coordinate and send out workers to their job. Then, you will have a company which can employee others. But we don't want to put our eyes too high. But vision like this helps us to move forward.

10) There are a lot of seniors or singles like us. When we go to hospital or long-term rehab, we are scared. And no one can help us take care our house, pay bills, etc. We need to hire people we can trust to help us. I call it "help a friend" service. Seniors also need "hire a daughter" service. There are seniors who hire a helper not to doing anything but just as a companion in the hospital until we die. Of course, the client needs to have money to pay. Not everyone can afford to pay such services.

The bot***** *****ne is forget about being employed. Find a self-employed job to do if you still would like to earn a living. Otherwise, if your health care is taken care of, if the country's long-term care is available, to reduce a little living standard, I think you will have a very happy and no worry economic life. Exercise is free. Smiling and laughing is free. What we face is most seniors face. The latest U.S. census shows that more than 30% baby boomers are singles. The society is changing and our needs are different, too.