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– Warmly, Honey

Living the Dream: Moving Abroad Later in Life

Today’s story is written by expat expert, Rosemary Bointon. She helps older people work out what to do now to live longer, in better health with more fun and adventures. Enjoy this article all about moving abroad. 

Honey prepares to travel abroad

Living the Dream: Moving Abroad Later in Life

Have you thought about living abroad as part of your retirement plans? The top of nearly every retiree’s wish list is to travel. The world’s your oyster but traveling all the time is stressful. So, why not try moving abroad; or does that sound really scary? There are all those stories about crime… and you’ve got to learn a new language!

Let’s find out from 3 couples who’ve taken the plunge why they moved and how it’s worked out for them!

Merry and Zdzisław in Poland

Why Move:

In the US, Merry had been intermittently wheelchair-bound. With a poor prognosis, she wanted to experience the joys of traveling before she was too disabled to do anything. Her husband, Zdzisław, is Polish; but it was adventure-loving Merry who five years ago, packed up a few clothes into a suitcase, bought two one-way tickets, and said that they were off, leaving San Diego for good.

Where they Live:

So off they went from to Łódź in Poland where Zdzisław had studied at university and where he still has friends. They’ve found a small apartment. (Everything’s smaller in Europe.) Merry and Zdzisław have everything they need and feel comfortable.

Healthcare:

You’d never know that Merry was told that she was not long for this world if you met her now. She’s out of the wheelchair and full of energy and life. She puts it down to the more holistic style of healthcare in Poland. She is thrilled with the healthcare system because it got her well again. There’s a public insurance system that covers more or less everyone with the possibility of an affordable private insurance sector to top up.

Merry and Zdzisław traveling in Poland

Retiring and Working:

Zdzisław is retired but Merry has managed to carry on her career as a certified soul-purpose coach and an American business etiquette coach in Poland. She started off by volunteering for the local university’s American library and now runs training courses (in English) for the local university and the American Embassy on leadership for women.

As well, Merry set up her blog because all her friends said how brave she was to up sticks and live in Poland. She runs a great course on vision boarding to help women to set aside their fears and go for their dreams. On top of all that, she has set up the Pay it Forward Sisterhood, to encourage people to fund friends or women from women’s shelters to do her courses and gain back confidence and financial stability.

Life and Culture:

Poland was a culture shock for Merry, who didn’t really speak Polish, but she relishes the new culture and the new friends she has found in Łódź. It’s so different but the people are so kind. Every day brings something new. Zdzisław loves the food of his home country and as a meat-eater, Merry loves it too. And, having never been on a bus before, she’s learned how to get to the center of the town on a bus!

Cost of living:

The cost of living is about a quarter of what it costs in America, which enables them to go traveling far more often. The main thing for Merry is that she knows the health system is there for her! That is a big source of stress removed.

Merry is thriving there and Zdzisław has fit right back in with his circle of old friends. They use their Polish base to travel around Europe fulfilling their travel dreams. Merry says they can’t really imagine going back to the US to live.

Marc and Lotus Miller in Mexico

Why Move:

With 6 career pivots of his own, it was an exciting development for Marc to embark on a new business, helping others who, in the 2nd half of life, want a change but need a helping hand to cross the bridge to a new life.

But his new business had unexpected consequences for Marc and his wife. It was in October of 2016 in Austin, Texas that Marc received a premium notice that their health plan was going up 50% to $1,800 a month with a $10,000 excess, because of his wife’s pre-existing condition.

That did it. They started prospecting for places to move abroad. In 2017, they officially became expats.

Where they Live:

Their new home is in Ajijic in Mexico. They live in a two-bedroom and two-bath ‘casita’ which costs them about $1000 per month including electricity and gas.

Healthcare:

They have taken advantage of the far cheaper health insurance and the excellent health care available in Mexico. They are an hour’s drive from a teaching hospital. The consultants visit their local hospital too. Access to great doctors is assured for Mrs. Miller.

But they feel a lot healthier because of their new lifestyle. Lotus goes to yoga. They walk everywhere in the town and all those fresh vegetables mean they’ve both lost weight.

Retiring and Working:

Lotus is retired but Marc runs his own business. Marc has had few problems settling down as a digital nomad and has even found a solution for his dodgy internet connection.  The two of them have done podcasts about becoming an expat – you’ll find them on Marc’s website.

Both of them take regular trips back to the US for Marc to speak at conferences and for the launch of his recent book, Repurpose Your Career. It means they get to see the family.

Life and Culture:

They feel very comfortable in Mexico and are amazed at how much a move abroad has changed their attitudes. As well, they love all three local street markets: particularly the local farmers’ market that sells a wide range of organic food. They buy fresh vegetables, fruit, chicken, and seafood. Lotus likes to make broth from chicken’s feet. They love the fact that it’s mostly locals there and they love the local food.

Like Merry in Poland, another great pleasure is going to the large English library where you can borrow books and DVDs. It’s easy to go traveling on the buses, people-watching: especially when the bus ride includes a performer giving the passengers a quick show. It’s a very cheap and entertaining way to visit nearby towns. Life is slower with time for lots of celebrations which are colorful, noisy and fun! Most places don’t have much crime.

Cost of Living:

Their pensions and income stretch further in Mexico which has enabled them to live in a nicer house. It’s not too far away from friends and family in the US and they can afford to visit when they wish to. They feel very comfortably off, especially with their healthcare concerns solved.

Marc says that he and his wife became economic migrants, due to their inability to obtain decent, affordable health care for Mrs. Miller. Whilst they are comfortably off, they see many American economic migrants in Mexico who, on US social security, find it tough even in Mexico to make ends meet. They expect to see more migrants because of the pandemic and the financial recession.

Edd and Cynthia in Ecuador

Why Move:

Edd and Cynthia suffered badly in the recession of 2008 and had to reassess their whole lives. They both lost their well-paid corporate jobs. With their savings running out in 2010, they hit on the solution of moving to a lower-cost environment and creating a new life.

Where They Live:

They chose Cuenca, in Ecuador and now live in a lovely penthouse apartment. They have a housekeeper, enjoy fresh flowers, revel in spa treatments, use the yoga studio and eat out regularly, all for $2000 per month.

Healthcare:

With the free Ecuadorian health system, Edd and Cynthia have peace of mind about any healthcare needs that might arise. Top up private healthcare is inexpensive too. Their lives are healthier and less stressful. Like Marc and Lotus, they have lost weight because they walk everywhere rather than drive.

Working and retiring:

Edd and Cynthia are the experts on retiring abroad. They both work on their business, helping people to find their dream lifestyles abroad. Through their blog, they’ve created a course you can do to work through all the issues. If you want to know more, they’ve created a website with lots of free resources to help other people enjoy life as much as they do. You can find out what your retirement reimagined could look like.

Life and Culture:

Edd and Cynthia enjoy a stress-free life with time for themselves. There is lots to do in and around Cuenca: museums, churches, parks and gardens, and the historic part of the city to explore. Nearby is a National Park, lots of lakes and of course, since they are already way up in the Andes, lots of mountains.

Edd and Cynthia in the Andes

Cynthia and Edd love the mental stimulation of learning a new language and they’ve made loads of friends. With around 5,000 expats in the city, it’s easy to make English speaking friends too. As in Mexico, the locals will start dancing at the drop of the Panama hats that are made in the city. (Did you know that Panama hats were invented in Ecuador?) Local festivals with food and dancing abound.

Cost of Living:

The estimates are that the cost of living in Ecuador is less than a third of a typical US cost. Edd and Cynthia feel that they ditched their financial nightmares to live comfortably ever after in Ecuador.

They say: “We know moving abroad is the best option for Baby Boomers with limited savings who refuse to give up on the comfortable retirement they worked hard for and richly deserve”.

The Dreams that Living Abroad Can Deliver

What are the common themes in these stories? Travel was a major driver for Merry and Zdzisław. But they’ve also gained better health and fewer financial worries in Poland. They plan to spend time in other European countries as Covid recedes.

Marc and Lotus’ prime reason for moving was to have access to medical care without it costing them the earth. They too have found great healthcare with lower costs, which means they can afford a more comfortable lifestyle in Mexico.

Edd and Cynthia moved primarily for financial reasons. They lost their jobs in the last financial recession and used up their savings. But they too live comfortably and stress-free in Ecuador. They don’t feel they have to worry about paying for healthcare either.

Each of the couples has found ways to keep earning which means their retirement funds will last longer. Oh, and they’ve all found traveling on buses of great interest! (Funny that, because it’s something that we love too, here in Portugal!)

Can Living Abroad Make Your Dreams Come True?

Affordable healthcare, a comfortable lifestyle, the ability to travel, and less stress are all things that figure really highly on retirees’ wish lists.

If they’re on yours, then start imagining whether it makes sense for you to move abroad.  Maybe you too will find the lifestyle of your dreams: in a new place with exciting new things to offer and teach you. Who could ask for more? Living abroad really can make your lifestyle dreams come true. So, get moving.

Have you ever thought about moving abroad later in life? Let us know in the comments below. We want to hear from you! 

Rosemary Bointon helps older people work out what to do now to live longer, in better health with more fun and adventures. She’s a certified content writer. You can find on her blog www.longlifefunlife.com or contact her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

 

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3 Comments
  1. Wow. No, I haven’t thought about moving later in life BUT earlier! This is such an encouraging read. It has all the relevant information in one go. Honestly, why wait until later? Thank you Rosemary for such a great appetizer.

  2. Thanks Kerstin. Yes, like you, I started living abroad long before I retired and acquired the taste to stay abroad. Depending on your circumstances, it can make a great deal of sense to move abroad when you retire though.

    1. I am late in replying but better late than never. I love your story and your writing and I am most appreciative to have you in my life as a friend and as a writer. Warmly, Honey

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