The small leather craft village of Cotacachi, Ecuador, is 8,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains, yet its location on the equator makes the weather there ideal all year-round. On a typical Sunday, Cotacachi is bustling with activity, and there is much to see and do.
When my wife and I moved abroad in 2001, there was a new technology called Instant Messaging. If you had a really good internet connection (which at the time was a dial-up connection…remember that?) you could type a message to someone, send it off, and a bit later actually receive an answering message.
In one sense, it’s a small world…instantaneous communication has made news and events from any corner of the globe instantly available to anyone with an internet connection. But in another sense, the world is still a big, big place…especially when you’re trying to decide where to live and retire.
I have some good friends who currently live in Cancun, and I like to stay in touch with them because we have the same kind of outlook on living and working abroad. We see it as being members of a close-knit group…a kind of tribe.
Some people say adversity is a character builder. They think that struggle makes us better people. But if struggle and adversity were really character builders, does that mean not having to struggle makes us less noble and virtuous?
I was born in the 50s, so magazines played a huge role in my life. Of course, I cut my teeth on the magazines my parents always had around…Life, Reader’s Digest, Look, Mechanics Illustrated, Field and Stream, and the like.
One of the coolest things I get to do for International Living is call expats all over the world and interview them about their lives. I’ve been doing this for years, and one thing I’ve noticed is that the expats who describe themselves as “retired” seem to be the busiest ones of all.
A good friend emailed me the other day to say he was disappointed in me. He’d just visited a Latin American city and had fallen in love with it. He went on for several paragraphs about how it reminded him, not only of one of his favorite mountain towns in Italy, but also of one of the Paris neighborhoods he loves the best.
Sometimes the level of uric acid in my blood gets too high and I get very localized, very painful arthritis. In my case, it’s usually in the joints of my big toes. They turn an angry red and throb with a slicing, burning pain that makes walking—or even drawing a bed sheet over my foot—impossible.
I’ve interviewed a lot of expats over the years, and no matter what that interview is about, I try to ask one important question. If you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently? The answers are a treasure trove of advice on what to avoid when planning and executing your plan to move abroad. And there are a couple of common themes worth mentioning.