My Name is Dan and I’m an Internet Addict

The older I get, the more I love technology. It’s supposed to work the other way, I know. The older I get, the more I’m supposed to kvetch and complain about all those dang, newfangled whatchamacallits that were supposed to make our lives easier but ended up making them more complicated and unmanageable.

Sorry, but I can’t go there. I love a strong cell signal and a big, fat data pipe that will stream any video and transmit any file I want without a moment’s hesitation.

I love having instant access to information about anything, anytime I need it.

If I can’t get these things, I get grouchy…no matter how beautiful the local scenery or engaging the local cultural scene.

This makes me sound like a First-World whiner, but let me say in my own defense that I’ve happily lived abroad for almost 15 years now and accepted—even relished—the inevitable challenges.

I’ve gone without New York style pizza. I’ve lived with milk in my coffee instead of half-and-half. I’ve made chili without jalapeños and curry without cardamom. I’ve gone out for bottled water for coffee when the town pump gave out, and I’ve gone to bed at 7 p.m. when the electrical grid failed. I’ve ridden the bus with chickens, and I’ve been wakened at 3 a.m. by fireworks and the blaring music of wedding dances. I’ve been served hamburgers made out of things that bear no resemblance to anything even remotely close to hamburger, and I’ve queued up at government offices for hours without knowing if I was even in the right line.

I’ve done my expat duty, believe me. And if I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed every single minute, I’ve learned a lot about the world and about myself from each and every one.

And my latest insight into my own character is that I have become addicted to the internet. And that’s all right.

As my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I tell anyone who will listen, part of being a successful expat is honestly profiling yourself and coming to terms with the things that you can and can’t live without. It doesn’t matter if it’s olive oil-packed roasted red peppers, high thread-count sheets, handmade India pale ale, or a wicked fast internet connection…if you can’t live without it and can’t find an acceptable substitute, you won’t be happy anywhere on the planet that you can’t get it.

And I’ve accepted that fact about myself. I now need high-speed internet to be happy.

Knowing this and a few other fundamental things about myself gives me a huge advantage as an expat. I can assess anyplace on the planet that I think I might like to live by a short but very specific list of personal requirements.

  1. I must never have to deal with temperatures below 32 F or above 100 F.
  2. I must have fresh air.
  3. I must have a grocery store, a restaurant, and at least one bar within walking distance of wherever I’m staying.
  4. I must be within a 90-minute drive of an international airport.
  5. I must have fast internet.

Everything else is icing on the cake for me.

And I’m choosey because I can be…the list of places that match all my personal criteria is thankfully long, and includes at least one community in every country on International Living’s Annual Retirement Index. I don’t have to settle or compromise.

Having that honest knowledge about yourself to match against a well-researched list of likely expat destinations makes choosing a place to start as an expat—or a place to try next—a much easier proposition.

But just as important is knowing that your own honest list of personal requirements will almost certainly change the farther along your expat journey you travel. It can’t help but do so, as your knowledge and experience grow and your physical and emotional needs change over time. Your changing requirements will make themselves clear to you…if you take the time to honestly listen.

And nowadays, whenever I’m in a place for more than a few hours that lacks high-speed internet, I don’t have to listen very hard to hear at least one of my personal requirements making itself very, very clear.

Spoiled? Maybe.

Lucky to accept this about myself and have a choice of places around the world that meet my needs? Definitely.

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