“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reasons for Living Abroad Over 50

#1: You Can Be An Expat Over 50 Longer and More Easily than in the Past

In the past half a century, Americans have spent more of their life outside work than on the job. Our average life expectancy has increased, and there are more and more opportunities to live abroad easily, including:

  • High-quality and ubiquitous internet connections so that we can stay in touch with our friends and family and work from anywhere in the world. (From 2014 to 2020, I had a T-Mobile Plan (link is for information about the same plan today) that allowed me free Internet access to most websites from my phone worldwide and low-cost calls to most of the world (20 cents per minute in 2020 – now 25 cents a minute). I used the phone worldwide, including remote places like Ushuaia, Argentina, the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, and Fiji).
  • Access to high-quality, affordable health care in many corners of the world. In fact, many US expats over 50 live overseas partly to take advantage of the high quality and low cost of medical care abroad. I have taken advantage of the lower cost and easy access to health care in Merida, Mexico, to deal with sleeping and mental health issues that were too difficult and expensive to address in the US:
  • More avenues exist to help expats over 50 settle abroad more comfortably than ever before,
    • Numerous Facebook groups exist to help expats connect and share tips, from finding products from other countries in grocery stores to finding good contractors and realtors.
  • The cost of living in most of the world is much cheaper than in the US. For example, the cost of living in my new hometown, Merida, Mexico, is 33% of the price of Los Angeles, California, where I grew up in the US. (Buenos Aires, Argentina; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Merida have about the exact costs). Even Memphis, TN (the cheapest US city with a similar population to Merida) costs twice as much as Merida. According to Numbeo.com, the following cities are more affordable than Los Angeles:
    • Vienna, Austria; Berlin, Germany; Nice, France; and Montreal, Canada (four of my favorite cities) are 33% less expensive than Los Angeles.
      • Madrid is 40% cheaper than Los Angeles.
      • The cost of living in Athens, Greece; Lisbon, Portugal; Panama City, Panama; and Bangkok, Thailand, is approximately 50% of Los Angeles.
      • Living in Istanbul costs less than 30% of living in Los Angeles
      • The cost of living in Puerto Vallarta is 35% of that in Los Angeles.
      • The cost of living in San Jose, Costa Rica, is 40% of Los Angeles.
One of the best reasons to move to Mexico is its wonderful cuisine Just looking at this picture makes me glad to live here.

Take Fifty Plus Nomad’s Living and Traveling in Mexico Workshop

Let me use my extensive experience living and traveling around Mexico to:

Help you decide if living in Mexico is right for you (it isn’t right for everyone)
Share my passion for Mexico
Find your perfect place in Mexico.
Set up, enjoy, adapt and create a joyful new life in my adopted homeland
Travel around Mexico comfortably, safely, and enjoyably on any budget.

#2: Becoming an Expat Over 50 Often Will Be One of the Best Decisions You’ll Ever Make. 

When I taught seminars about living abroad and traveling worldwide in the 2000s, I always worried that I talked people out of their dreams.  

I conducted nearly 500 interviews with American and Canadian expats 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. Many even said their biggest regret was that they didn’t move overseas earlier. Often, interviewees became quickly comfortable with their expats’ over 50 lifestyles.

Nonetheless, I dreaded telling course participants about the issues and pitfalls they might encounter becoming an expat over 50. I knew that no matter how much I emphasized the benefits of being an expat over 50, 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 made a concerted effort to present these issues while repeatedly emphasizing the benefits of being an expat over 50. 

Legal residency requirements are the only potentially severe roadblocks for some expats over 50. And these requirements mainly apply to people who want to live full-time in the US/Canada, Europe, or Australia/New Zealand. (Some countries like Spain, Portugal, and Greece have reduced immigration requirements to attract American or Canadian expats over 50)

Fortunately, these requirements will not affect most expats over 50 living in popular Latin American countries (Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua). (Mexico now requires a minimum income higher than the US’s average monthly social security payments),

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.  

#4: You Can Avoid Many Frustrations If You Do Not Compare Being an Expat Over 50 with Your Life in the US or Canada 

That said, there almost undoubtedly will come times while you are living abroad that you will regret your decision. You will have fewer regrets and be better equipped to overcome your feelings of regret if you keep the following things in mind:

  • 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 are in reality 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. 
  • Expats over 50 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. 

#5: Keep a Balanced Perspective on Expat Life 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 readings, see the list of 50 top travel memoirs. 

#6: Expats Over 50 Can Supplement Their Income Anywhere

Expats over 50 have valuable skills – including proficiency in the planet’s most universal language, English – that can help them earn enough money to extend their stay and travel abroad indefinitely.

Thanks to the internet, expats over 50 can work as digital nomads from anywhere on the planet. Moreover, since more people than ever work as freelancers after the Coronavirus pandemic, it is easier to find or create new sources of income on the road.

I started teaching English and Spanish in Mexico when I ran out of money from my inheritance and planned to live in Mexico on this income. I also offer classes on how to travel long-term around the world and live and travel in Mexico and the Yucatan (with a home-cooked meal) to supplement my English and Spanish teaching income. In addition, I rent out my casita to earn extra income.

If I can supplement my income. So can you. Many expats I’ve met earn money while living abroad by preparing artisanal food, making and selling paintings, writing books, and renting out rooms in their homes.

In the future, I will write more about my experiences earning money in Mexico and the experiences of other expats in Merida and worldwide earning a living outside the US.

Additional Living and Traveling in Mexico (Compared to Southern Europe and Central America) Posts from Fifty Plus Nomad

Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

Write A Comment