The Love Affair That Changed My Life

There have only been two times in my life when the influence of others has provided immeasurable positive benefits for me. The first was when I met and married my wife, Diane. The other was when I discovered International Living.

Like millions of others during the 2008 recession, Diane and I found ourselves struggling to survive when my executive-level job disappeared and the equity in our home quickly vanished. Like a brutal home invasion, the global economic meltdown had forced its way into our family and the consequences were painful and very personal.

I was about to reach retirement age; the time when most people shift their lives into a lower gear but instead, we were fighting for survival. Despite our efforts, we were sinking and no conventional solutions were at hand. It was then, at our lowest point, that I discovered a new passion… International Living. It turned into a love affair that would throw us a lifeline and be a huge positive influence in changing our lives over the next several years.

It all started when I stumbled across an online article from International Living detailing overseas retirement havens that offered the promise of an enhanced lifestyle at a fraction of the cost available at home. As I read about beautiful and exotic locations, sundrenched beaches and mountain retreats—all offering remarkable value for money, especially when compared to back home—a lightbulb came on in my head. Could this be our better way?

I spent more than an hour scouring International Living’s website, its various articles written by happy expats. I had never considered living overseas before but that first encounter with International Living provided hope and planted a seed which quickly grew.

That night, I slept better than I had in over a year. The next day I subscribed to International Living magazine, bought a few country reports and books and spent the following week buried in research. This was it…our solution! I had enough information now to share my discoveries with Diane and we both agreed to move forward with plans to find the country that best met our needs and become expats.

The International Living resources, combined with our ongoing research from many other sources, continued to reinforce the idea that our plan was viable. Every article and report we read was like receiving a full charge of enthusiasm; like our own private cheerleading squad telling us we could do it. We read about others who had done the same thing all across the globe and while people around us thought we had lost our minds, we knew better.

In the spring of 2012, Diane and I sold what remained of our belongings and packed the six suitcases allowed by the airline. Diane tucked our Chihuahua under her arm and with a deep sigh and only a small amount of trepidation, we began our expat lives on Ecuador’s northern coast. It was in Ecuador that Diane and I first began to do some occasional freelance writing for International Living.

After two wonderful years in Ecuador, we moved to the Caribbean coast of Mexico. We now live in Cancun, just a bit more than an hour away from Miami. We have a beautiful apartment with spectacular views, right on the Caribbean, in a city with modern hospitals, great infrastructure and more entertainment options than we know what to do with.

Because of International Living we’ve not only survived, we’ve thrived. We’ve swum with sea turtles in the Caribbean, snorkelled in dazzling underground cenotes and had a lesson in tortilla-making in the primitive outdoor kitchen of a Mayan family. We’ve visited the natural hot spring pools on the edge of Lake Chapala in the Sierra Madre mountains and attended an amateur drag show featuring expats willing to shave their beards and don evening gowns and heels to raise money for charity.

All along our overseas adventure, International Living has been on hand to provide us with credible, solid information and the encouragement we needed for such a major lifestyle change. Today, as an International Living Correspondent, I’m extremely proud and privileged to be part of the IL family, providing on-the-ground research and information to assist people like you as you consider making your own overseas move. And as part of the International Living family and the larger community of expats, we never feel alone…no matter where we travel.

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