When my wife, Suzan, and I became expats 17 years ago, one of my reasons for leaving my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, was pretty simple. I never wanted to shovel snow again, ever.
Expats living all over the world, during the holiday season have one thing in common—their adopted countries have Christmas traditions that are likely very different from those back home…if they have Christmas at all.
Sometimes it takes a while for us to perceive the patterns in our lives. For example: over the past 16 years of living and working abroad, I’ve spent a total of seven of those years based in Mexico, in four different communities. And I’m currently a Mexican resident.
Anyone thinking of living, working, or retiring abroad has a lot of choices to make about when, where, and how they’re going to do it.One of the most important considerations is one that a lot of expats I know wish they had given more weight to during their initial planning.
I admit it: when my wife first mentioned moving to Ecuador, back in 2001, I had to check a map. I knew Ecuador was in South America, but I didn’t know exactly where.
The chances are good right now that I won’t outlive my retirement funds. Fifteen years ago, I couldn’t have said that, because 16 years ago I was outspending myself and couldn’t save a dime. Then something big happened.
Ordinarily, I skip over blog posts and emails in which people rave about how lucky they are. Sometimes life deals you a great hand, and I’m all for letting the world know about your good fortune…but I rarely get anything I personally can use out of articles on the topic.
The financial and lifestyle benefits of living, working, and retiring abroad are pretty obvious. If you live in a place with temperate year-round weather and lower prices for food, transportation, rent, taxes, and real estate, you’re going to be more comfortable and save money.
Back in 1997, my wife and I were married in the sunny glass-covered atrium of the Don Carlos Hotel in San José, Costa Rica. The hotel provided a musician who played keyboards and a notary public who handled the paperwork and shared with us the bottle of champagne the hotel included in the wedding package.
One of the first things people say when they hear my wife and I have lived in Latin America for 16 years is, “You must be fluent in Spanish.” I have to admit that we are not, but I don’t feel too bad about that. Here’s why.