A Tale Of Two Retirees
Friends David Stubbs and Lucy Culpepper retired overseas early and haven’t looked back since…
“I retired to Costa Rica in 2004,” explains David, “at the age of 48. I was late. My goal from my teenage years was to be in a position to retire by the age of 35. As I approached that milestone, I was having too much fun to quit. Even at 40, I was not ready, but, by 45, I knew my time in the workforce was up. It took me a couple of years to extricate myself from corporate life, after 21 years with Hewlett-Packard.
“In fact, I’ve been living outside my home country Britain most of my adult life. Leaving England in 1985 was a big step. As I hopped on the plane to Singapore, I promised my mother that I was going ‘overseas’ for only two years. Twenty five years later, I have not looked back.
“After Singapore came Hong Kong (10 years), then California (8 years) and now Costa Rica (5 years so far). For me, there is no going back–not because I have been thrown out of all those countries (!) but because I’ve come to understand that there are just so many wonderful places on this planet. There is always somewhere new to explore.
“Along the way, I married the girl I met at university, and we have raised a family. Our two now teenaged children were born in Hong Kong, are multi-lingual, and (we hope) are well advanced down the path to becoming global citizens.
“As to the idea of living or retiring overseas, I think everyone with an open and enquiring mind should take the leap. You will be amazed by what you discover during the journey, about the world and about yourself, too.”
“I am not a typical retiree either,” continues Lucy, “for I have not retired at all. But I have traveled extensively and have lived away from home (also the UK) for many years.
“When I was 23, I left the United Kingdom to work and travel in South America. I did return home but had caught the bug. For the next seven years, I traveled and worked all over the world, including in India, Iceland, Kenya, Borneo, and the United States.
“In 1995 I moved from the UK to the U.S. to work as editor of a triathlon magazine in California. There I met my man, an Irish American. His idea of an exciting move was away from the United States to Europe, so I packed up again and spent two years in the UK with him.
“After two miserable wet summers, we looked for ‘a place in the sun’ not far from my family. We literally got out a map of Europe, but, no, we didn’t throw a dart. We searched for a place with a California-like climate and good cheap flight connections to the UK.
“My husband resigned from his sales engineering career and re-trained to become a business coach. I stopped editing to have a baby.
“After one year in southern Spain, we moved north to Catalonia, to a town near Barcelona. A far better option for launching our new business, a coaching/training school (in Spanish). We spent the next six years building and developing the business and our family (baby number two was born in Barcelona).
“In 2007, we sold our business and decided that it was a good time to go traveling with the children (ages 6 and 10). We took them out of school, sold everything, and set off for a grand tour of Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica.
“Our intention was to move permanently to one of those countries, but that didn’t work out. For family reasons, we had to leave the region sooner than we had planned, and, after a two-month stay in the United States, we returned to Europe. Again, our choice of country was determined by climate and family, but this time family had the upper hand.
“We are now in southern France, within a few hours of my parents but on the Atlantic side where it’s green and fresh. Not very Californian but very beautiful.
“The pros for me of living overseas are the challenge of dealing with new languages, learning about new cultures, raising multi-lingual, open-minded children, and always being surprised by the new.
“The cons…having to deal with new cultures when not fluent in the local language, overcoming bureaucracy and endless paperwork, not having the support of an immediate family, and leaving behind close friends.
“Despite the cons, I doubt that I will ever return to the UK. Life away from there for me has been so much richer and more fulfilling.
“My parents are what you might describe as ‘classic overseas retirees.’ They are both British and made the decision in their early 70s to leave the UK. They were tired of the ‘yob’ culture and felt France was the place for them. They have embraced their new life with great bravado.”