Outdoor cafe to have
lunch or enjoy a coffee, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
In preparing for a
retirement overseas, we would wager that most people occupy themselves with the
practical concerns of residential visas, banking, owning property, finding a
doctor they like, medical care that they can afford and dealing with any
language barriers. These are pragmatic topics with realistic solutions, and we
say that these areas are almost the easiest part of making this lifestyle
change. While the above mentioned topics are important and must be solved, we
want to share with you what it really takes to move overseas.
It may surprise you,
but what we have seen take people down, destroying their retirement dreams and
sometimes even their marriages, are the emotional and psychological challenges
one faces in adjusting to their new lifestyle overseas.
How do you prepare
for these obstacles ahead of time? We hope the following tips and insight will
shed some light on the topic.
Just like home
Great weather to meet friends, Picton, South Shore, New Zealand
Many people trip
themselves up with their giddiness over the fantastic cost of living in their
new location. They often come into a new country talking themselves into
believing that living in their new destination is just like home, only cheaper.
We want to tell you that no place overseas is just like home. Customs, foods,
weather cycles, housing codes, the treatment of pets, the laws, the language, cobblestone
streets and workmanship quality are all different.
We have seen folks
love the quaintness of their new town but then fall apart because they canít
find parking near to markets where they shop. Their charming town might not have
one-stop-shop with a parking lot tying several stores together so they find that
market day involves stopping in six locations, perhaps fighting traffic in
between. Instead of taking their time to enjoy their enchanting town, they find
this situation to be annoying and they carry the frustration with them all day.
Animals are treated
as animals in developing nations and not as family members. Street dogs are
common and if your heart is easily broken, then this might pose a problem for
you. While we have seen Expats adopt up to a dozen dogs as pets, this is not
something we would recommend. One could become involved in animal rescue,
retraining and home placement but even that will not solve an issue that is
culturally so different than what one is used to ďback home.Ē We urge you to
become involved as you feel comfortable, but then there will have to be a
certain level of acceptance of the situation or you will be miserable. Resisting
cultural differences is a never ending battle that really isnít satisfying.
attitude of workers could drive you up the wall with them telling you they will
come tomorrow to fix something and instead, show up several days later. Finding
just the right maid, gardener or plumber could take some extra effort on your
part. Once again, if your personality tends to the uptight and precise view of
things, life in a foreign country could be a continuous challenge. Itís really
much better for your health and for getting things done to just roll with the
flow of it all. Ask other Expats which plumbers, electricians, gardeners,
attorneys, construction workers and maids they would recommend and start with
them first. There is no point in getting yourself upset and then holding this
tension as a permanent posture towards life.
Photo opportunities everywhere, Volcan Agua, Santa Catarina Archway, Antigua,
mind and attitudes
One of the best tools
in your toolbox is having
mind. A friend of ours says the
difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude, and itís true. If you
are finding that your blood pressure is rising because a sense of timing is
different in your newfound county than it was back home, take a deep breath.
Step back. Enjoy what this new lifestyle has to offer and realize that itís a
Try to get less done
in a day instead of tackling those six different locations before noon. You are
retired! Enjoy the leisurely pace instead of battling against it. Practice your
communication skills with vendors or with your maid and gardener and reap the
benefits of learning a new language. If street dogs proudly do their business on
sidewalks learn to step around it, accept it, or scoop it up yourself to dispose
In foreign countries,
celebrations will occur on dates that have no meaning to you. Processions will
assemble, stopping traffic and shutting down streets. Banks will close. Rockets
will be set off at odd hours of the morning and evening perhaps disrupting your
sleep schedule. Neighborhood dogs will bark, interrupting your peace.
While living on the
tropical paradise island of Nevis, in the West Indies, a local man tied his
donkey outside our bedroom window. This donkey brayed early every morning and
throughout the day. What an unexpected sound!
Church and plaza in San Cristobal,
You can allow these
things to rupture your contentment, or you can roll with the events and choose
to be unperturbed. Focus on the fact that the weather is glorious, the prices
are affordable, medical care is abundant and accessible and you actually have
house and garden help which make your life easier.
Adjust to living
Some people allow
themselves to become upset because they insist on eating certain brand label
foods. In a foreign country these foods are now ďimportedĒ costing outrageous
amounts. The more one insists on eating imported foods, the higher the cost of
living, and the benefit of lower pricing in your new location is undermined. As
much as possible, purchase local brands of cheese, butter, chocolate, mustards,
syrups and sundries. Local products are often quite good, so save that imported
item for a special occasion and enjoy the savings to your wallet.
If there is a large
Expat community, chances are there will be a selection of international
restaurants. This can be so enticing and eating in these locations will probably
appeal to you. Just remember that the prices in these establishments are
generally higher than in local businesses. If your budget will tolerate these
prices, then there is no issue. If you are trying to live well on less, itís
best to choose to eat local and save the tourist hauntsfor a special time.
Or enjoy the
abundance of the
and cook a feast at home.
Different customs, different viewpoints, temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Even though for ages
one might have dreamed of living in a tropical climate, actually living in one
might not be what you expected. Many southern countries have two seasons, wet
and dry. Dry season can be windy or dusty and could aggravate oneís allergies or
sinuses. When itís the wet season, often times in the tropics, buckets of water
will fall drenching the landscape.
Itís far more
beneficial to oneís lifestyle to focus on the crisp clean air and green
hillsides during rainy season, and the spectacular sunny days of the dry season
than to find things to complain about.
Generally speaking we
have always suggested renting before one purchases property in a foreign
country. If you find out that you are not as flexible as you might have earlier
assumed, then changing your mind is far easier than getting into the
entanglement of selling your property in order to pursue a new location.
Not everyone can
mentally and emotionally adjust to their new home country. When planning your
retirement life, take what we have offered here into consideration. Be
willing to adapt. If you are not inclined to align yourself constructively with
your new locale, you will be setting yourself up for some unnecessary misery.