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Real estate tips from the terminally ill

Karen is one in six people living with a terminal illness, aim to inspire a rethink of the great Australian dream.

Six people living with terminal illness offer moving words of wisdom about the benefits of borrowing less and living more, regardless of your health status, in a new online film launched today.

The two-minute film, ‘Real estate tips from the terminally ill’, was commissioned by Australian online bank, UBank, and created with support from Palliative Care Australia (PCA).

The film focusses on how the Australian dream of owning a home has lost its way and the stress that big mortgages and other financial commitments can create. It features Ken, who thought he had a bad case of indigestion but was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“We’ve got all this stuff raining down on us constantly about what we could get and what we should get, and it just skews our entire thinking,” he says.

Julie, who is living with cancer says, “It’s nice to have nice things, but when … acquiring them stretches you to the limit — I look at people now and think ‘Whoa, slow down’.

The film is accompanied by interviews with each of the six people who are terminally ill, including Karen, who says a cancer diagnosis means you have to start living life day by day.

“When you’re given a death sentence, you really re-evaluate what it’s all about,” she says.

Karen suggests cutting personal debt down as much as possible, doing a budget and sticking to it.

“It is amazing when you are put into a situation like ourselves — with me living with a disease now and not being able to work — you can live on a lot, lot less and still have a very good quality of life.

“I think if I was younger I wouldn’t go for the bricks and mortar. I’d enjoy life. I’d go and smell the roses again; trip overseas, go see Australia, have fun with your kids.

“We all take our life for granted and it’s so quick, and I really would love people to slow down and do what’s special, what is really meaningful, and that’s relationships.”

UBank CEO Lee Hatton says more than half of Australian mortgage holders (58%) are prioritising work over family due to financial pressures.

“We want to support our customers in finding the right home without stretching themselves beyond their means,” says Ms Hatton.

“It’s a provocative statement for a bank, and one that we’re proud to stand by.”

PCA CEO Liz Callagan says the peak national body supported UBank’s film project by providing advice and helping to find the inspirational people featured.

“When UBank approached us with this concept we immediately liked it because the project gives a voice to the people we advocate for day in and day out – and that’s not an opportunity they often have,” she says.

“We worked with our community to help UBank find the right people to share their stories in this film, and the advice shared is so valuable. We hope it inspires Australians to make changes for the better.”


  • I am a 58 year old male, with pancreatic cancer, they will not tell me how long I have left although it's been 14 months already. Had someone told all of this 40 years ago, would I have listened I doubt it, we were pushed so hard for the home loan, if you don't buy you have failed, it's the best investment you will make, that's why we did it So we take out life insurance and income insurance both of which have payed of my house and give us an income for the next couple of years before super is needed, some say it's not about collecting things, but what I have will go to my wife and children which means they need to do less and hopefully there children

    - Ron Spencer

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