Life Lessons from 12+ Years’ Experience Living Overseas

As we approach our lucky 13th year of living overseas, my husband, Dan Prescher, and I are fortunate to have shared so many wonderful, memorable experiences in so many far-flung corners of the world—from Southeast Asia to Europe, and nearly every country of Latin America.

We’ve lived in Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, and Ecuador… In fact, we’ve lived in more than one destination in some of those countries. We’ve learned to speak Spanish, we’ve bought and sold property in four countries outside the U.S., and most of all, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves.

Sure, there have been challenges, and we wish that that there had been more helpful information that would have paved the way a bit before we ever started this adventure. But when we left Omaha back in 2001, the Internet was not nearly the beast it is today. (That’s for better or for worse, of course. While there’s a lot of content out there in cyberspace, not all of it is current or reliable.)

But maybe our experience will help you… Here are some of the more philosophical lessons we’ve learned along the way:

Don’t Run “Away,” but “To”…

Don’t leave home for the wrong reasons. It’s understandable to be angry about political issues. It’s okay to want a fresh start after a break-up, a death, or a financial disaster. If you’re buried under back taxes, alimony or child support, you may think fleeing is your best option. But take my word for it, these issues will follow you overseas.

You’ll be far more successful if, instead of running away from your problems, you run “to” a new and improved lifestyle. Embrace the unknown, look forward to the adventure, and immerse yourself in a new and different culture. Keep an open mind about everything.

It’s Okay to Move Because of Money…But It’s Better to Do It Because of Your Heart

There’s a new term in the expat world: “economic refugees.” Thanks to retirement funds that were hammered by recent economic events, more and more people are seeking refuge in countries where the cost of living is lower. That’s okay. It’s very smart, in fact. But if that is the only reason you’re moving overseas, you many want to reconsider. Instead, go because you genuinely love the people and their culture and you look forward to the adventure of it all.

Take More Personal Responsibility for Everything

Trip over a hole in the sidewalk and twist your ankle… Have an allergic reaction to the detergent used by hotel housekeeping… Your purse is no longer on the chair back where you left it when you went to the restaurant bathroom… The menu is only in Spanish…

My husband says the U.S. is a “nanny state.” We’re looked after in every way. That’s one reason everything in North America costs more. OSHA, the FDA, FTA, FDIC, and more protect us from ourselves. And if we get hurt or in a bind, we can sue. Not so in the rest of the world. So take more personal responsibility. (And, of course, you can worry far less about ever being sued yourself.)

These lessons are just the tip of the iceberg; there’s so much more we’ve learned by living overseas.

The nuts and bolts alone can be overwhelming:

  • What about Social Security? (Yes, you can still collect it when you live overseas.)
  • Do you have to give up your U.S. or Canadian citizenship? (No, never… unless you choose to officially do so.)
  • What about Medicare?
  • What paperwork should you start collecting now to qualify for your residence visa?
  • How can you get your mail, or watch your favorite sports programs?

The practicalities alone will fill a book. And so they have. We’ve spent the last year compiling our many “lessons learned” into a guide that we’re certain can help you make a successful move overseas. We offer in-depth profiles of the best countries, and we drill down within those into the very best communities for retiring, starting a business, moving with kids, and so on.

Our tips and strategies will help you pinpoint the best location for your personal needs. We’ll help you save money on your travels to investigate these places…(Insert “and” before “explain”) explain how to save on the move itself and on your daily living costs once you’re there.

In fact, the book itself is amazingly affordable: Order it now, before its official release date, and you’ll only pay about $16. Find out more here.

Test-drive a Retirement by the Beach in Panama—All Expenses Paid

We’re sending one lucky winner (plus spouse or friend) to Coronado, Panama—all expenses paid. If you’d like to learn more about our Win Your Dream Retirement Overseas competition, and how you can enter, see here.

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