Despite Many of the Problems and Issues Outlined in these Fifty Plus Nomad Blogs, I Still Consider My Decision of Living Abroad Over 50 As One of the Best Decisions I’ve Ever Made.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of someone else’s thinking.”
Don’t Get Discouraged: Living Abroad Over 50 Will Be One of the Best Decisions You’ve Ever Made
Note: This blog addresses legal residency issues in a general way. However, I can’t determine what will happen if you live in these countries full-time. You should seek help from other expats living in these countries and professional assistance.
When I taught seminars about living abroad and traveling worldwide in the 2000s, I always worried that I had talked people out of their dreams.
I conducted nearly 500 interviews with Americans and Canadians living abroad over 50 as part of my research for my courses. Most interviewees said they did not regret their decision to move overseas, and the majority did not experience any of their worst fears. Often, interviewees transferred quickly into a Fifty Plus Nomads lifestyle.
I dreaded telling course participants about the issues and pitfalls they might encounter. I knew that no matter how much I emphasized the benefits of living abroad, many people only heard the negatives.
However, I also felt responsible for ensuring that the audience understood the good and bad aspects of expatriates’ experiences.
Therefore, I concertedly present these issues while repeatedly emphasizing the benefits of living abroad over 50.
Legal Residency Requirements
Legal residency requirements are the only potentially severe roadblocks for some Fifty Plus Nomads. And these requirements only apply to people who want to live full-time in the US/Canada, Europe, or Australia/New Zealand.
Fortunately, these requirements will not affect most Fifty Plus Nomads living in the most popular Latin American countries (Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua) or most people traveling for extended periods.
However, many people find ways to work around these issues, including living in more than one country or spending part of each year traveling worldwide.
I will address these issues in-depth in later blog posts.
7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Compare Living Abroad Over 50 with Your Life in the US or Canada
- Establishing your life in the US or Canada took a lot of time and effort. Finding and maintaining employment, buying and maintaining a house, using modern technology, learning to drive a car, etc., is not easy anywhere in the world.
- You will need to do many tasks living abroad over 50 that will appear more complicated than they turn out to be because you are dealing with another culture and language.
- Wait a while before attempting any tasks that you rarely do at home. (Such as home building or repairing or starting a business). Any job that is difficult and new at home will likely be more difficult in another country.
- Do not be surprised if some of the biggest hurdles come from US and Canadian companies and government agencies. Our home government and business do not deal well with expats or long-term travelers.
- That said, Fifty Plus Nomads rarely have many serious issues. Many of the warnings contained in this blog also apply in the US or Canada. It is just that we have more of a chance to fall into these problems abroad.
- Immigrants from other countries to the US and Canada face many challenges adjusting to their new lives.
- You can travel the world and live abroad using English. I am always amazed at how many people speak English and how eager they are to practice with a native speaker. That said, learning a foreign language will allow you to gain more profound exposure to another country, make a broader range of friends, and get the most out of your experiences. Want to learn Spanish? Let me help.
4 Ways to Keep a Balanced Perspective on Your Living Abroad Over 50
- The convenience of living in the US or Canada comes with costs. We are pressed to do and consume more than most other countries.
- Living Abroad Over 50 can be very relaxing compared to home. Once you are a Fifty-Plus Nomad for a while, you will know what I mean.
- If you concentrate on why you want to live abroad over 50 in the first place, most problems will seem minor.
- Remember, most expats over 50 love their lifestyle.
- Read a memoir like On Mexico Time or Under the Tuscan Sun. The authors capture the joys of living abroad over 50 so well that you will be packing in no time. For a list of recommended reading, see the list of 50 top travel memoirs.
The Unexpected (but Fortunately Usually Minor) Biggest Challenges of Living Abroad Over 50
Before expat retirees move abroad, they expect their most significant challenge to be the logistics of setting up their lives abroad (i.e., buying or renting a house, renovating or building a home, legal residency abroad, etc.); however, more often than not, the most significant problems involve adjusting psychologically to living in a new country.
Generally, expats don’t pay attention to culture shock because they think they know all about themselves. But, in reality, living abroad changes expat retirees in unexpected ways, and the real root cause of expats’ frustrations with logistics are:
- Culture shock
- Starting new projects early during your stay abroad (especially renovating or building a home or starting a business) that expats didn’t attempt in their home country before moving abroad
- Going from working full-time in your home country to retiring abroad without considering what expats want to do with their free time.
The good news is that culture shock usually goes away in a couple of years and can be dealt with relatively quickly if you diagnose it early and take action to adjust to a different way of life.
Want Other Good Advice to Make Your Living Abroad Over 50 Dreams Take Flight?
One of the best resources for this information has been Transitions Abroad for over thirty years.