As I’ve mentioned before, it was a conversation with a Filipino native that clued me into the possibility of retiring overseas. That got the ball rolling, but what happened next can be compared to an avalanche. I tapped into Google and found myself buried in a mountain of information.
First I began researching the Philippines; economy, politics, cost of living, housing, etc. I checked out blogs, then library books. But when I hit upon InternationalLiving.com that's when the possibilities really began to overwhelm me. Their free “postcards” (daily emails describing life in other countries) suddenly exposed other countries which are very affordable and “doable” for me, and legions of others. I had no idea there is a huge “expat” community out there, others who have chosen to live outside the United States for various reasons. In fact, I did not realize until reading International Living – the magazine itself – what exactly expatriate means.
An expat is anyone who lives outside their country of origin. I had the mistaken notion, as apparently many do, that the term referred to a bad attitude about the United States, and shrunk from the idea. Not true at all. Brits, Canadians and Australians comprise a large number of the expatriates out there in the world, and indeed the citizens of many nations. To become an expat is not to become “anti” anything. This is probably the most important thing I learned in my research.
After exhaustive research on many different host countries, I’ve narrowed my own nations of interest down to the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Nicaragua, Portugal and the Czech Republic (Prague specifically). That’s the list for now. Who knows what else will pop up on my radar over the next couple of years? I expect I will meet other expats who will enlighten and excite me about other “must see” destinations.
One of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read is Gringos in Paradise, by Barry Golson – the story of an American couple that builds their dream home in an ocean-side village in Mexico. Although this isn’t remotely what I want to do, I loved the journey these two had into another culture.
Two must-read books on the subject are: The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget by Susan Haskins and Dan Prescher and How to Retire Overseas by Kathleen Peddicord. Both books gave me tons of useful information and a real flavor for what I’m about to do.
One more book that gave me much to think about was originally written in the 70s and republished in 2001. It covers some of the aspects of living overseas that helped me assess my own comfort zone and look at other cultures with a new eye. It is Survival Kit for Overseas Living : for Americans planning to live and work abroad by L. Robert Kohls. One note of caution: many of the things you read will be exceptionally positive and Kohls book helps to offset that with a bit of a hardcore reality check.
I hope these suggestions will assist you in determining whether living overseas is a real possibility for you. Please let me know if you have any questions. I’ll try to answer them, but remember I’m not actually there yet!