Challenges Of Living Overseas


Seven Reasons Not To Retire Overseas

When you move overseas…

#1: The people will be different from you. They’ll speak a different language (probably). They’ll dress differently. They’ll have different ways of doing business, different ways of showing respect, different ways of celebrating Christmas and their childrens’ birthdays. They’ll take different approaches to serving meals, planting gardens, building houses, paying utility bills, and enjoying their Sunday afternoons…

#2: The way of life won’t be like what you’re accustomed to. See #1 above…

#3: The climate will be different (maybe), and nowhere on earth is the weather ideal or even comfortable 365 days every year. In the tropics, the climate is tropical. Days can be sunny, sticky, sweaty. In the Caribbean, there are hurricanes. In much of the world, there’s a rainy season…when rivers overflow their banks, roads wash out, and things get really muddy…

#4: You’ll encounter bugs. Especially at the beach, but few places in the world are completely bug-free. There are snakes in the jungle…

#5: You’ll find that people take things that don’t belong to them and sometimes do worse things to each other, sometimes much worse. Nowhere on earth is 100% crime-free…

#6: You’ll have to work at building your new life. I have spent time in more than 50 countries in regions across the globe, from China to Colombia, from Morocco to Mexico, from Egypt to Ecuador, and I’ve yet to encounter a group of people I wouldn’t describe as welcoming, friendly, hospitable, helpful, and curious. I’ve also met, all over the world, people who were disinterested, disrespectful, rude, and close-minded. No matter where you decide to launch your retire-overseas adventure, you’ll have to make an effort to seek out people of the first sort, to make like-minded friends, and to become part of your new community. To be really successful at this, you’re going to learn at least a little of the local language (if it isn’t English)…

#7: You’ll need to check your expectations at the border and keep your sense of humor.

Panama, for example, is a Spanish-speaking country in the tropics. Don’t expect the people to speak anything other than Spanish (though many do)…and don’t expect the weather to be anything but tropical (though, in some parts of the country, it is).

Nicaragua is a Third World country. Sometimes the electricity goes out.

The French invented the word for “bureaucracy.” You’re going to have to wade through a lot of it whenever you try to address any administrative task in this country.

Some parts of the world don’t have to-your-door mail delivery service. Some don’t have street signs or, even, street addresses. In some countries, banks and other businesses close for lunch. Almost all non-tourist Paris shuts down for the entire month of August. During those four weeks, good luck finding a notaire to close on your property purchase or a plumber to fix your leaky kitchen faucet.

Most of the world takes its holidays very seriously. During Carnival, for example, many Latin American countries close for business altogether. As in Paris in August, you aren’t going to be able to get much done. I’ve found that the wisest strategy is to give up trying. Join the rest of the country out in the streets for the fiesta.

If any (or, indeed, all!) of these things bother you, you should think about staying home, wherever that happens to be.

Kathleen Peddicord

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Your New Life In Panama

About Author

Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With 30 years of experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring and investing overseas in her daily e-letter. Her newest book, "How To Buy Real Estate Overseas," published by Wiley & Sons, is the culmination of decades of personal experience living and investing around the world.