Retiring overseas

Chambord castle

Our friend Larry tipped us off to an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal that addressed the topic of retiring abroad. The newspaper contacted about a dozen of their previous contributors who had written pieces about moving from the US and settling elsewhere in the world. Because most of those original articles were so optimistic about this big change in life the editors were especially interested to see if that initial enthusiasm continued years later ranging in time from 4 years to 14 years in residence. Some discussion suggestions were provided such as what’s changed since you’ve moved and what advice do you have for others considering living outside the country, but to get things rolling they asked everyone, “How did your decision to retire overseas turn out?”

Shopping at the market like locals

Eleven responses came from around the globe and had they been mailed in using the postal service all but two of those envelopes would have borne stamps from countries other than the US. It didn’t surprise us to read that the couple who described themselves as “senior gypsies” are now back in California after 5 years of moving at least every two months to a different destination in many parts of the world. Despite never really unpacking and facing multiple languages, cultures, and daily lifestyles, the two say that they “lived like locals”. The other couple that returned to the US lived in a small Irish town where they found it difficult to access specialized healthcare and are now in Texas near their daughter. They used the world “glorious” to describe their time overseas and recommend investigating medical services before moving.

There were replies from Spain, Chile, the Netherlands, France, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, the Philippines, New Zealand, and Peru. The similarities were amazing to the point that if you covered over the name of the town you might not know if you were in Europe, Asia, or South America. Oh sure, there were negatives like overcrowding from too many tourists or missing family who still live in the US but we had to smile when one person wrote that the quality of life more than compensated for any drawbacks.

The advice centered on adapting: being flexible, patient, and learning the language. Be open to the diversity of foods, cultures, values, styles of living, and all types of celebrations. The gentleman in Chile summed it up by saying, “Being respectful works wonders.”

Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Périgord

While we certainly found the responses from US citizens living in other countries fascinating we naturally wanted to read about the experiences of someone here in France. Nancy and John moved to a small farm in 2012 in the Périgord region, about a 2-hour drive north of us. Their priority was to assimilate into their new surroundings, “to understand and adapt to” the culture and people of France. They have immersed themselves into the local environment and are grateful to be living here.

We moved to France almost 4 years ago and like the people described above, even those “senior gypsies” who never stayed in one location very long, we feel like locals. What’s the secret? All I can do is repeat that wisdom coming from Chile, “Being respectful works wonders.”

8 thoughts on “Retiring overseas

  1. Nice to see you back this morning. Having lived in Ireland for 11 years I agree with the couple’s comment that specialist healthcare is very difficult to access. As for France, after 8 years we find, as you do, that simple politeness and respect (and speaking French!) go a long way!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I enjoyed this post about living abroad. Respect is right up there with language when it comes to adapting to a new environment. In my 35+ years living outside the US, learning the local language and respecting the people make everything easier and more fun

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My town has a good sized and diverse ex-pat community and I don’t know anyone who is not happier than they were “back home.” Quality of life, healthcare, social life are the main reasons given. It’s a wonderful life!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I can’t tell you how reassuring this is! My husband and I have said for YEARS that we will move to France when I finally retire. (we stay for long stretches in the summer, so we know where we want to be based) Now that retirement is looming in the next year, I am finding myself a bit anxious about it, as is my husband. I love reading your blog for all the good info you share, but also because you really do seem happy with your decision! Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Come on over and join the fun! If you do your homework, and it sounds as if you already have done some of that here in-person, then you are bound to succeed. Please let us know if you have any questions.


Comments are closed.