Former DFAT public servant Phil Bacon, at home on northern NSW, who says there is life after a redundancy.

For Phil Bacon, trading a desk for a small acreage with a vegie plot in northern NSW ticked all the redundancy boxes.

It took a little while for Phil Bacon to get used to the idea of ending his public service career with a voluntary redundancy. But a year later, the former Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official has no doubt he did the right thing for him and his family.

The 62-year-old has some advice for any federal bureaucrat faced with the same dilemma: don't let loyalty to a department stop you from going.

When the former security official found himself at the end of his Beijing posting - and at a loose end - he slowly warmed to the idea of a golden handshake, even though he was slightly surprised when his request was approved.

Mr Bacon said successive governments had undervalued the work of their foreign affairs officials and that public servants contemplating a redundancy should put themselves and their families first. ''The government values what the foreign service delivers for them, when they negotiate free trade agreements and things, but they don't really value the idea of having a foreign service that's well-resourced and professional,'' he said.

''And it is pretty professional, despite that rather than because of it. DFAT in almost every area of its endeavour has been under-resourced for as long as I've been there and I don't see that changing under this government.''

If the squeeze was being felt in the service 12 months ago, Mr Bacon said, then recent events have vindicated the decision to take the package and go.

''I think it was the right [decision], I don't think that things have got any better.

''I keep in contact with some of my colleagues and they're finding things not terribly easy,'' he said.

Mr Bacon acknowledged not everyone was at the right time in their career or family life to walk away from their government job, but for him and his wife Carmel, the quiet life on the NSW north coast has been good. ''We bought a property, it's five acres, it's not far from Byron, sort of in the hinterland just in from the coast,'' Mr Bacon said. ''We've got all the tropical stuff happening, we've got a bit of a vegie garden going. When you've got five acres, you're never short of something to do.''

And it's a world away from the Chinese capital's notorious smog.

''At least you can breathe the air here,'' he said.