Expat: To Be Or Not To Be…
That is the question.
Does the idea of becoming an expat call to you? Do you enjoy new experiences, different cultures and want a retirement adventure? Then moving to another country may be the perfect option for you.
There are many countries that offer a better lifestyle on less resources. Deciding which one to move to can be overwhelming without a plan, and moving to a new country without completely researching it is a recipe for potential regrets.
For me, moving to another country that is within my budget is certainly an option worth considering. Having lived outside of the U.S., in both Peru and Guatemala, I know that I enjoy other cultures and adapt well to countries that could be called “retirement affordable,” but I also recognize the need for planning.
“Life might be difficult for a while, but I would tough it out because living in a foreign country is one of those things that everyone should try at least once. My understanding was that it completes a person, sanding down the rough provincial edges and transforming you into a citizen of the world.”
– David Sedaris
Once you decide that becoming an expat is an appealing retirement option, then it’s important to take time to make the best decision for you.
Read, Research and Ruminate
Do some reading. There are lots of resources on web, books in the library and videos on YouTube that will help inform you. There is a lot to learn so start dreaming, but back up those dreams with data. Travel guides can provide you solid information about a country you are considering, the cities, culture, weather, getting around etc. You will want to have a travel guides on hand when you actually visit that country for the first time.
Once you determine that the expat life may be an option for you, then the time would be sooner, rather than later, to begin determining where you will move to when you retire. Vacationing is a perfect way to start. In the week or two you are vacation in a location you can get a feel for the city and culture your are considering. If you are not an experienced adventure traveler, then you may want to visit the country of your choice with a tour group first. You will get an idea of the culture, food and climate from a tourist’s perspective. You will see the major sites and you may even get some free time to wander around the city. It’s a great way to get a mini and usually rapid paced look at part of a country. If it feels right and you think you might be happy there, try to get back a couple more times to explore further, branching outside the city into the small villages, hamlets or pueblos. It may be that you decide after further exploration, to your surprise, that you prefer small village life over the hustle and bustle of the city,
As time get closer to making the move, you may want to consider an extended stay in the country of your choice. Vacations can provide some information about a country and the culture. An extended stay will provide you with a more day-today experience, a closer taste of what life might really be like.
In many countries you can stay in a room in someone’s house. I lived my first 6 months in Peru in a “hospetaje,” somewhat similar to a B&B in the United States, in concept, but with a different cultural twist. You can stay for a short time or for an extended stay at most of them. Choosing to stay in this type of accommodation offers an opportunity to meet locals and get to know the owners, maybe even become friends. It’s a nice way to start your time in new city and is easier on the wallet, and more culturally real, than staying in a hotel.
Another excellent option is to rent an apartment. In many locales you can rent an apartment for short term leases, month-to-month or a few months at a time. Living in an apartment will give you a more realistic perspective of what daily life would look like if you were to move there full-time. Daily life would afford you the opportunity to shop in the market, cook your own meals and occasionally venture out to a local restaurant for a meal or to a pub to listen to some local talent. It will give you the chance to search out and connect with expats who live in the area, ask a few questions and listen to stories of their adventures. Most expats are happy to connect with someone from back home who are considering relocation and share their experiences.
Once you have considered the various countries that you might like to live in and decide where you are headed, it’s time to learn the language.
Are you considering retiring to another country? What research have you done to ensure you are making the right choice for you? Share your thoughts below.