It was the Irish winter. Though I'd traveled in Ireland for years, I'd never lived through an Irish winter. Some days the sun rises after 9 a.m. and sets before 4 p.m. in the afternoon. In between those hours, it's typically gray, drizzling, overcast and damp. Ireland can be a great place to call home, but before you commit to retirement in the Auld Sod, experience it in winter. Spend time in the country in January and February. Or consider spending only part of the year in the country. Ireland is a place that makes good sense as a part-time retirement haven. You could retire to Ireland each summer, then spend your winters someplace bright and sunny. That was our strategy. After our first long winter in Waterford, we escaped to the tropics every December and returned to the Emerald Isle in early March, in time to appreciate Irish spring and summer. A few years ago, I mentioned the phenomenon to a friend preparing to move overseas for the first time, suggesting that he shouldn't worry about the panic stage he'd eventually experience because it would pass. My friend smiled and nodded politely, humoring me. It can be hard to imagine during the excitement of the pre-move phase that after maybe only a month or two in your new home, you might find yourself questioning the move altogether. My friend insisted that it wouldn't happen to him. "I've spent months researching and making my plan," he explained with confidence. "I understand what I'm getting into. I've thought this through from every angle, and I'm fully prepared." A couple of years later, over drinks one night, he remarked, "You know, before my move, when you talked about the panic stage that everyone goes through at some point after relocating to a new country, I laughed to myself. Panic, I thought. Why would I panic? The idea seemed extreme and, frankly, silly." But then he continued, "But, I have to tell you, it happened to me. It was maybe a year into my move to Ecuador. I realized that I was feeling out of my element and uncertain in a fundamental way, unsure of myself and my new situation. I was experiencing a feeling that, I had to admit, could best be described as panic." I asked what he decided to do. He responded, "I remembered what you'd recommended. I waited it out. I realized that I was feeling overwhelmed by the frustrations of living in the third world. I reminded myself why I'd wanted to make the move in the first place and of all the things about Ecuador that I love. There are many. After a little while, the panic passed." Your panic phase in your new home could be a result of the weather and the seasons, as it was for us in Ireland. It could be a reaction to the trials and frustrating tribulations of life in a developing country, as it was for my friend. It could be homesickness, which you should be prepared for. You're going to experience it from time to time. No country is perfect. Everywhere has its pluses and minuses. The minuses eventually are going to get to you. Living high in the mountains in Panama may provide glorious views and a gentle, spring-like climate, but you won't be near a real city or an international airport. You'll be living a country life among neighbors who, in this part of Panama, speak only Spanish. Sometimes the remoteness will overwhelm you. Ecuador offers an extremely affordable cost of living, but it is also a third world country. Retirement in the third world isn't for everyone. Although it was our third international move and our third country of residence since we left the United States, my husband and I experienced the panic stage in Panama, where we've struggled adjusting to the tropical climate and to the inconvenience factor. Panama is working hard to earn recognition as a first world nation, but, right now, it's not. This is a land where things don't always work as you'd like or expect. The key to being happy in your new home, wherever you decide to make it, is to keep your perspective and your sense of humor. When doubt and frustration creep in, as they will, remind yourself of two things. First, don't make any hasty decisions. The moment of panic will pass. Second, while you're waiting for that to subside, remember why you chose this country in the first place. Was it for the beach? Then escape to the coast for a few days of relaxation beneath the palms. Was it for the super-low cost of living? Take yourself out for a nice dinner on the cheap. What do you enjoy most in your new home? If you moved there for the fishing, then make time to catch some fish and then have your new friends over for an authentic home-cooked American dinner. Think about why you're feeling uncertain about your decision. Once you identify why you're second-guessing your move, you can address those points. If you don't like the current season, go somewhere else until it passes. If you're missing family back home, invite them to come visit. If you're not happy in the neighborhood where you've initially settled, consider another. Be prepared, at some time during your first year of retirement overseas, perhaps even during the first month or two, to wonder what in the world you've done. No, this wasn't crazy, and it wasn't a mistake. Wait it out. The panic will pass. Just on the other side is the new life you came to find. Kathleen PeddicordEditor's Note: All our top-selling how to retire overseas resources are on sale right now as part of our Black Friday/Thanksgiving Weekend mega-sale. Take a look.
My favorite outpost here is Graiguenamanagh, the "village of the monks," on the River Barrow. While "Graig" has all the appearances of a sleepy Irish village, the river is a hub of activity. Visitors here don't come for the nightlife. They come to swim, jump from the diving boards, kayak, barge, fish, and eat some of the tastiest home baking from local tearooms and cafes. Last week, I spotted the perfect retreat here currently on the market for 75,000 euros. I'll be reporting in full on this special area for Overseas Retirement Letter readers later this year. Lynn Mulvihill P.S. Ireland is one of the 21 countries we'll be featuring during this year's Retire Overseas Conference taking place in Nashville next month (Aug. 29–31). You have 48 hours remaining to register for this, the biggest and most important retire-overseas event of the year, taking advantage of the Early Bird Discount. The current US$300 Early Bird Discount expires Thursday at midnight. Sign up now here.
1. The Wexford Strawberry You can pick up strawberries in any part of Ireland, but those that hail from Country Wexford are the sweetest and most revered berries of the lot. Wexford, the most southeastern county in Ireland, enjoys the best sunshine hours, as well as the best soil conditions (high in potassium, low in calcium and nitrogen) for strawberry growth. Wexford farmers pop up stalls (usually manned by students on summer break) along the main routes around the country, setting out each morning with punnets of fresh berries. Traveling as far as 100 miles from home, it's the first appearance of their vans that signals the arrival of the Irish summer. You can't move far around the country without seeing a roadside sign for "Wexford Strawberries and New Potatoes," flagging the presence of a trailer-load of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, potatoes—and, often, jam and fresh juice produced by the farm. But the strawberry is the main attraction. A good-sized punnet averages 4 euros (US$5.50). The berries are just as delicious served on their own as they are with fresh cream or ice cream. 2. Traditional Fish And Chips After a long day at the beach, there's nothing like unwrapping layers of paper and opening a white cardboard box to reveal an oversized golden, deep-fried, battered cod, lying on a bed of thick-cut chips. You may not be aware that you're hungry. But, if you're within walking distance of a good fish and chip shop, the vinegar-soaked brown-paper bags will quickly alert your senses. Far from skinny American fries, the Irish "chipper" dishes out rough, chunky potato chips, drenched in vinegar with a fair lobbing of salt. (Most chippers will ask for permission before adding these condiments, but be sure to intervene early if you prefer to abstain from either. If you prefer just a little seasoning, it's probably best to politely ask if you may add your own.) Lennox's in Cork claims to be the best chippie in Ireland. Popular options around Dublin include Leo Burdock's at Christchurch and Beshoff's in Howth. In the coastal town of Tramore, County Waterford (my closest beach), it's hard to beat Dooley's fish and chip shops (with branches just off the main promenade and in the center of town). A box of fresh cod and chips from Dooley's costs 9 euros (US$12.20) and is worth every cent. 3. The 99 Ice-Cream Cone The national favorite cool-me-down on a hot summer day is the "99"—layers of soft, whipped vanilla ice cream, served in a wafer cone, with a chocolate flake bar protruding from its side. Shops selling these delicious, creamy cones often have a large model ice cream on display outside or some sign to indicate a whipped ice-cream machine onsite. Meanwhile, ice-cream trucks drive around neighborhoods, blasting out their musical call to dessert. To be honest, I prefer to skip the chocolate flake and enjoy a plain cone. But, by all means, give both a try... Above all, don't get ripped off. I've heard of people paying a ludicrous 3.50 euros (US$4.80) for a 99 near Dublin Zoo. Elsewhere, 1.60–1.80 euros is more typical. Certainly, you shouldn't pay more than 2 euros (US$2.70) for this creamy refreshment. Lynn Mulvihill
And, if values, properties, and locations are as they've been represented, we may also consider buying one of this city's waterfront apartments ourselves. For us, this is as much a personal decision as an investment, given our honeymoon connection and our instinctive appreciation for Istanbul's history, geographic location, and Continental-chic lifestyle.We've learned through long experience that buys that meet both personal and investment criteria are the most successful long-term...one reason Istanbul is at the top of our list currently.From Istanbul we plan a quick stopover in Macedonia. This is a tiny country at a dramatic turning point in its history. We like little countries working hard to make a place for themselves on the world stage, so we're going to take a look at what Macedonia is up to.Later in July we'll be in Nicaragua (to vet current property offerings and to finalize plans for the Live and Invest in Nicaragua Adventure we've added to this year's events calendar) and in the Cayman Islands (to vet new banking, tax, and structures resources).The first two weeks of August we'll be in Belize with our kids. Our agenda for this leg is kayaking, canoeing, hiking, river-tubing, horseback riding, and spelunking. We hope to be as unplugged as is possible for a family to be these days. Two weeks without X-Box, Netflix, Skype, or Facebook sounds like just what the doctor ordered to this mom.We'll finish the summer in Nashville, where Lief and I will be co-hosting our Fourth Annual Retire Overseas Conference Aug. 29–31. We're two months out from the event and have more than 200 attendees registered. They and we will be joined by more than four-dozen speakers, correspondents, expats, and friends from around the world for three days of discussion and discovery. I'm very much looking forward to it. Never been to Music City before.I'm also looking forward to the eight weeks between then and now. I won't be MIA the whole time, but Lief and I are hoping to be offline for a couple of extended periods. Specifically, the coming two weeks in Istanbul and the first two weeks of August in Cayo, Belize.Don't get too excited. You're not off the hook entirely. I've enlisted reinforcements.Starting tomorrow and continuing through mid-July, you'll hear each day not from me but longtime friend and fellow editor Lynn Mulvihill...whose efforts will be supported by correspondents Paul Terhorst, Wendy Justice, Lee Harrison, Rob Cary, Jocelyn Carnegie, Lucy Culpepper, and others who've offered to help hold down the fort while Lief and I try to be disconnected.We will be in touch from the road in Istanbul and Macedonia from time to time. Look for us back in your inbox reliably again the week of July 14.Meantime, enjoy your summer...and, if you haven't yet, make your plans now to join us in Nashville. This is going to be the biggest and most important retire overseas event of the year and a whole lot of fun, to boot. Hope to see you there.Kathleen Peddicord
June 3, 2014
"Kathleen, bravo to Trader Jack! I have been looking for some of the famous Panama hats. Will he stock any of them?" --Ian K., United States He will.
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Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.
Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.
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