What Regrets Do I Have About Living Overseas?

Regrets, I’ve had a few… But then again, too few to mention…

That song is playing in my head right now as I think of the experiences my husband, Dan Prescher, and I have had over the last many years.

We’ve been living overseas since 2001. We’ve lived in seven communities in four countries (and purchased property in a fifth). We’ve bought, renovated and sold two homes in Mexico and bought and renovated a condo in Ecuador, where we now live. We’ve tried out beach life, mountain life, and both big-city and small-town living. So we know something about the expat life…

And yes, obviously we’ve made a few mistakes along the way. Some might say that the mere fact we’ve moved so often is proof that we just can’t get it right. That maybe we’ve chosen some of these places for the wrong reasons…that perhaps we made choices with our hearts instead of our heads.

On the other hand, we’ve come to accept and identify ourselves as “serial relocators.” We’ve embraced our wanderlust and it’s served us well. There’s not one place we’ve ever lived overseas that we wouldn’t happily return to…

Have we taken some small missteps? Sure, and they’re pretty much the same mistakes we see new expats making all the time. None are life shattering, and they can certainly be avoided.

One of the biggest mistakes, in my opinion, is moving overseas for the wrong reasons. If you’re purely money motivated and you’re heading overseas because you’re financially tapped out, for instance, and you think your life will be better if it costs less…well, that’s a good enough reason to move overseas, but maybe not the best reason…

Yes, there are plenty of places where you can live better than you do right now for less money—hundreds of them, in fact. My husband and I have visited many of these places and, as I mentioned, we’ve lived in several. And the truth is that we’ve cut our living expenses by at least 60 to 70% over where they were when we last lived in the States nearly 13 years ago.

That’s mostly due to living simpler lives. And not because we have to, but because we want to. In Ecuador, we have all the comforts of home that we personally could want. But…we don’t feel the need for the latest gadgets and fashions. We don’t need to go out to fancy restaurants. We don’t need a car or an expensive health insurance policy. Our needs are simpler now and the result is that we’ve become happier.

Another important point: if you’re leaving home to avoid some legal hassles, that’s definitely not a good reason. Child support…alimony…back taxes…lawsuits… Run out on these and you may find yourself in a world of hurt later.

Are there other mistakes would-be expats make? Yes, a few. But again, they can practically always be easily corrected. This is one of the topics my husband Dan Prescher and I have written about in our new book, The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget.

We wrote the book to pave the way for others like us, who are looking to find the perfect place to retire…and yes, to retire on a limited budget. You needn’t make huge sacrifices to do this. We devote a good portion of the book to just this topic, in fact, to cultivating a quality lifestyle on a moderate income. No matter where you live, there are ways the “insiders” know about to save money.

In fact, we interviewed dozens of our fellow expats for this book and most say they’re living quite comfortably in the community of their dreams (on tropical islands, on the beach, in sunny mountain villages) on $2,000 a month or less—often including rent. And yes, in the book we tell you exactly where and how they’re doing all this. Our goal with this book is to help you save money from the moment you step off the plane.

We’ve tried to cover just about every topic we can think of that might be important to you if you’re thinking of moving overseas—even if you’re not ready for retirement yet. If you have kids, or you need to work, or you want to start a business, and you want to maintain close ties to friends and family back home, we’ve got you covered.

Importantly, we focus on the world’s best communities right now to make it all happen.

If I have any other regrets, it’s that we didn’t write this book sooner. Then again, if we had, we wouldn’t have had the experience to pour into it. There are trade-offs in life, for sure, but don’t let your retirement be one of them. Live the adventure, as we have, and I pretty much guarantee you won’t regret it.

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