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How To Persuade A Reluctant Spouse To Retire Overseas

“Kathleen, my wife doesn’t believe we can be safe and have a low cost of living in Belize or Mexico or Roatan or other places that I’m very interested in. She can always find bad news on the Web about muggings, murders, etc.

“How do you address these concerns?”

–Darrell B., United States

If you were to ask my husband for his advice on this subject, Lief might reply:

“Well…you could always make a move without your wife. You could leave her at home…”

And, in fact, that’s an option. You wouldn’t be the first reader we’ve spoken with who has resorted to that strategy.

I don’t recommend it, though. Relocating overseas shouldn’t mean giving up your nearest and dearest.

We get this question often, and, instead, here’s what I recommend:

Take this step by step.

Suggest to your wife that you and she take a trip somewhere on your list. A 10-day vacation, say. No pressure. No commitment. Just a vacation.

In most every case I’ve known where this strategy has been employed to try to adjust the thinking of a reluctant spouse, the result has been positive. If the reluctant spouse keeps even a slightly open mind…and the motivated spouse doesn’t push too hard…usually good things result. Specifically, usually, the reluctant spouse has a surprisingly great experience and then is open to a similarly low-key second step…maybe a more extended visit to another interesting place.

This approach can stretch out the decision-making process, but that’s OK. It’s not a race.

We’ve had many cases at conferences, for example, where a reluctant spouse has come along for the ride, maybe kicking and screaming at first. Every time I’ve spoken with said spouse, maybe a couple of days into the experience, the story goes like this:

“I didn’t want to come here. And, on the first day, I had a pretty bad attitude. I was sure this was all a waste of time because I was sure I wasn’t moving anywhere. But now that I’ve had a chance to speak with others who are already living new lives in new places and now that I’ve seen some of the options up close…well, I have to say, I’m intrigued…”

Your wife seems especially concerned about safety. Don’t try too hard to argue her concerns away. Instead, again, get her on a plane. Try to get her to go see for herself. What she’ll see is that these places that have your interest really are beautiful and appealing. No place is 100% safe, and bad things happen everywhere, but the places we recommend are safer than many places Stateside and certainly not “unsafe.”

Sure, if you Google around, you’ll find scary statistics—for anywhere in the world. Ignore the statistics and the one-off horror stories.

Get on a plane. Worst case, you and your wife will have a vacation, return home, and move on with your lives. But I believe, based on long experience, that if you can get your wife to take this first small step, you and she will be on your way to the adventure you’re dreaming about.

Bon voyage.

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