I made my first international move, from Baltimore, Maryland, to Waterford, Ireland, with the support of my longtime employer who’d given me the marching orders to establish an EU base for that firm. I did not choose Waterford but the idea of an adventure in the Old World, something I’d daydreamed about since I was a young girl. Waterford and Ireland were happy accidents.
I made my second international move, from Waterford to Paris, again with the support of the firm I’d by that time become a partner in. However, this time I chose the destination. My family and I wanted to be in Paris, and my business partner accommodated the agenda.
My move from Paris to Panama was entirely my doing.
The year before, I’d left the company that had taken me to Ireland and France. I’d retired early to find that retirement didn’t suit me. I liked being in business and decided to start one of my own.
Two minutes of discussion with Lief led us to agree that, if I wanted to pursue a business agenda, we’d need to leave France, perhaps the least entrepreneur-friendly country in the world. We knew from experience that Panama is one of the best places to start and run an internet business of the kind I imagined, so we bought one-way tickets for Panama City.
For the next 10 years, we hunkered down in Panama, raising our son and building the Live and Invest Overseas business. When both were mature enough to take their first independent steps, Lief and I planned our fourth international relocation. Our business base in Panama City remains, but Lief and I hang our hats these days again in Paris.
Now that we’ve launched our son and established our business, we’re transitioning to the long-anticipated next stage, for us the ultimate lifestyle. We travel back and forth regularly between Paris and Panama City, enjoying the delights of the City of Light while continuing to manage the growth of our business, which affords us many opportunities to rationalize travel elsewhere.
As we look ahead from this pivotal point in our lives, we imagine continued hard work, which we both enjoy, punctuated by regular travel. More than anything, Lief and I appreciate change, contrast, discovery, and the unexpected.
Plus, we like history, architecture, long city walks, and extended café afternoons. This world of ours hides many spots for indulging in all those things. We look forward to getting to know as many of them as possible.
My point is that, while, for more than 30 years, “retire overseas” has been my beat, it’s never been my personal agenda. I’ve enjoyed a life of serial adventures overseas funded by enterprises that have allowed me to convert passions for travel and real estate into cash flow.
The dictionary defines “retire” as “to stop working willingly” and “retirement” as “being away from a busy life, a state of being withdrawn from the rest of the world or from a former busy life.”
If traditional retirement is what you’re after, no question, the opportunities overseas are diverse and appealing. I suggest many destinations in these pages where you could withdraw from the rest of the world and spend the rest of your days swinging in a hammock or bettering your golf game.
I’d like to suggest, though, that that’s but one (I’d say limited) strategy. Why not think bigger and broader? Why wait until you have some magic number of dollars saved or invested to chase your dreams of cross-border adventure?
Instead, use your imagination and your professional experiences and personal interests to conceive a strategy for earning the money you need to fund your adventures as you go. Not only is this approach more practical, as it allows you to control your income long-term and through retirement, but it’s also immediate.
As I’ve explained, my retirement plan, which Lief and I are right now embarking on, has nothing to do with withdrawing from the world. I’ve been looking forward to this stage as a chance to be more engaged than ever, in the world, in life, and in the pursuit of happiness.
My ideas for retirement are about moving around the world as whim and wanderlust dictate and settling in to get to know each place where I land, its people, and the local way of life. What goes on here? I’m always wondering about wherever in the world I happen to be. How do people spend their time here? How do they do what they do, and how might I participate?
I’ve taken to describing the lifestyle as “unretirement.”
Unretired, I’m working and productive but in control of my day and my time. I’m not tied to a conventional work schedule or to a conventional anything. I organize an unconventional schedule that allows me to indulge in the best of the place where I happen to be that day while still meeting all my deadlines and business-building objectives.
I’m more productive than ever because I’m more content, less stressed, and less distracted by daydreams of the life I could be living.
Your unretirement plan likely will look different than mine. Not many are crazy enough to commit to what I committed to when I launched the Live and Invest Overseas business, but now that I’m in this thing, I want to see how far my team and I can take it.
The point for you is that you can unretire at any age and with any level of income, assets, or savings, and you can unretire anywhere in the world that supports your unretirement agendas.
You could be unretired, period, living a más o menos conventional retirement lifestyle but in a new country, meaning a lower cost of living and days filled with adventure and the exotic. You could be unretired and earning an income (think laptop business).
You could be an unretired entrepreneur like me. You could be unretired for fun and profit, investing (in real estate, say) to generate cash flow to support yourself as you embrace this free and flexible lifestyle.
You could unretire with school-aged children or your aging parents. You could unretire to a penthouse or off-grid and self-sufficient. Bottom line, unretirement is about taking control of your life and how you spend your days, making it possible for you to spend them wherever you decide you’d really like to spend them and filling them with discovery and adventure rather than business meetings and a daily commute.
Any of the places I introduce in these dispatches would make for great unretirement locales… as would many other spots across the globe.
You can unretire almost anywhere on the map that grabs your attention. And you can do it now.