Finance & Retirement LIFESTYLE  >  Expat Retirement Series: Creating a Satisfying Life

Expat Retirement Series: Creating a Satisfying Life

Expat Retirement Series: Creating a Satisfying Life
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So you have settled into your new life or retirement overseas.  That divine beach cottage/golf course house is yours and each day is an exploration of fresh delights.  Just like the pictures in the brochures.

With a little luck you have met a nice group of people who have lived in the community for a while.  Fitting into the social scene has been like slipping on a pair of old favorite socks that you recently mixed with with a new pair of luxurious slippers.  They look better and still feel wonderful.

The walks, the golf and bridge games, the lunches and the dinners at your new friends’ houses are all great.  But then comes this nagging feeling of “Now what?”

Retirement a generation ago meant you could take time to be tired, relax, play with grandkids and do almost nothing until you sort of fell apart.  Now retirement goes on for much longer.  You are still lively when you start it and people tend to keep their marbles and stay in good physical shape for a long time.  This is one of the reasons why many adults over fifty are moving and starting overseas adventures.

So after you have spent a while just unwinding from your career, what do you do with all these extra years?

Living overseas has a few special challenges for people creating a new satisfying life.  Most are dealing with a new culture and often a new language too. There are plenty of opportunities to express yourself and be of use, but accessing them is different than it would be back home.

Here are a few tips on taking the next leap into the expat life;

  1. Take language lessons to put yourself on a more competent and secure footing in your new home.
  2. Take lessons in disciplines you always wanted to explore and never had time for.  (This is naturally much easier in an area with a healthy number of expats to swap talents and lessons.)
  3. With a good coach who understands your limitations but isn’t much of an  English speaker, you can take up a new sport or learn a new interest and practice your language skills together.
  4. Access your new social circle to see what charitable projects you can get involved with. For instance, orphanages often need people to come and play with the children.  Many opportunities do not require much language.
  5. Take note of needs you see in the community.  Liaise with locals and your friends to start a new project.  (Chile had a great number of street dogs fending for themselves and procreating. A sympathetic local vet was rounded up, along with an expat with an old van.  A mobile clinic was initiated and far fewer puppies are born on the street.)

Then there is the idea of the second career.

Many expats start working in a field they never had time for before or share their career expertise.  People are usually happy to have your skills available, but don’t expect to earn a living wage at it unless you are in a first world country.

  1. It may surprise you to learn that you can teach English in many a country without knowing the local language first.  This is often because the local schools try to teach basic English to all students.  These students then want further instruction from a ‘real American’ and so private schools step in.
  2. Local connections with some English often love to have you help them in business.

There will be many a need wherever you go and innovative solutions are usually welcome.  “What’s next?” will become “Let me check my datebook.”

Suzie Hammond is the author of; I am Not Sure Where I Want to Be -But it’s Not Here (A Comprehensive System for Finding a New Home You’ll Love ) 


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