Guest Post by Kathleen Peddicord, Overseas Retirement Letter
If you haven’t yet taken action toward realizing your dreams of a new life in retirement abroad, I say now, get moving.
Many Overseas Retirement Letter readers have taken off for new and exotic lives in the overseas retirement havens that called their names (and we share some of their stories with subscribers in the current issue). What’s holding you back?
I can imagine many things. Over the years, we’ve struggled with our own Reasons Not To Move Overseas. In fact, we’ve probably had more reasons than most not to push ahead with our various international escapades, for our situation has been complicated.
Lief and I met in June 1997 on a real estate tour of Ireland (that I was leading). We both happened to be on that fated expedition as part of research in advance of moves to the Emerald Isle that we both, coincidentally, planned to execute by the end of the year.
At the time, Lief was living in Chicago; I was based in Baltimore. We were engaged to be married in September and wed in November. All the while continuing with our relocation plans for December.
Who couldn’t talk him- (or her-) self out of an international move under those circumstances? Certainly, nearly everyone we knew thought we’d taken leave of our senses.
Including my then 9-year-old daughter. Kaitlin wanted no part of any life other than the one she’d been enjoying in Maryland, where she had friends and family, including a grandmother she visited nearly every day.
The grandmother (my mother) wasn’t big on our international relocation plan either. When, the day before our departure, she stopped by my house so I could give her the foodstuffs and other things I’d packed into a couple of boxes for her, she remarked, tearfully, “Oh, how can you give away all your teas? Can’t you take these with you?”
I was more concerned about leaving my antique furniture behind, so I invested in shipping a container load of it to Dublin, where it then had to be stored for a year before we were ready to take delivery of it in Waterford.
Lief wasn’t able to sell his house in Chicago before our December move date, so we had to continue paying the mortgage on it the first several months we were living in Ireland.
The morning we were to take off for our grand newlywed adventure overseas, Kaitlin lay on her bed, holding her grandmother’s hand, and sobbing. “Please don’t make me leave,” she pleaded. “I’m an American. I belong in America.” Her cries continued for our first full year abroad.
Lief and I pushed ahead, in the face of Kaitlin’s reluctance, in the face of my family’s misgivings, in the face of financial complications and setbacks, in the face of our own uncertainties. We organized the shipping of my furniture and the sale of Lief’s. We sold both our cars. We researched Waterford schooling options for Kaitlin. We parted with personal belongings, longtime friends, family, and co-workers. On the face of it, we abandoned everything…except each other and our dream.
It was not easy. Life in Waterford was not perfect. Some of our friends and family still don’t understand, all these years later, why we ever made the move, and I can’t, even now, articulate a response that makes sense to them. Perhaps you will understand. We wanted to see what we might see. We wanted to glimpse how people live somewhere else. We wanted a chance to understand how life in a new place would be different and the same from the lives we’d
We perceived so much benefit from that first move from Baltimore to Waterford that we enthusiastically embraced a second one, about seven years later, this time to Paris. Then, last summer, we relocated again, to Panama.
Looking back now, I see many points along the way when we easily could have talked ourselves into staying put. We’ve gotten tired. We’re worried about the children. We’ve been overwhelmed by frustrations resulting from the different ways people do things in different places around the world. But this is the point, isn’t it, we’ve had to remind ourselves…to discover how the rest of the world works.
We’ve addressed all the questions one must address when undertaking these kinds of adventures: What stuff should we ship? Which health care plan is best for our family? Where should the children be educated? Should we rent our new home or buy one? What about the pets? Are we doing the kids a disservice by taking them so far from their extended families? What if they don’t like their new home? What if we don’t?
Here’s the lesson I’ve learned as a result of all the research and planning that’s gone into all our globe-trotting over these past dozen years: You can’t over-think this. Thinking has its place, but then action is called for. You’ll always be able to second-guess your plan and to rationalize walking away from it.
Moving to a new country–on your own, with your family, whatever your circumstances–requires courage and conviction. It means ignoring the nay-sayers and your own doubts. Practically speaking, it demands persistence and high energy levels.
More than anything, though, executing a move to another country requires a naïve faith in your own ability to work things out and to make things work. You can’t possibly imagine and plan for all possible contingencies and eventualities. You’ve got to trust that you’ll be good on your feet.
So, again, I propose a resolution: Start now. Put the planning, the research, and the thinking aside. Muster the self-conviction to follow your heart. Your new life overseas won’t be easy, and it won’t be perfect. It will come with a set of challenges and frustrations that you can’t begin to imagine right now. So stop trying.
Because, I tell you, it’s worth it. I can’t articulate an explanation that satisfies my family back in Baltimore, but I can tell you that I don’t regret one day or one move of the past dozen years. Our experiences have been broad, our lives and those of our children have been enriched, and our memories are diverse and comforting. Each step executed (successfully or sometimes not) has given us the confidence to take the next one.
From Baltimore, Maryland, on the East Coast of the United States to the Irish countryside. From there to the City of Light, then, last summer, back across the Atlantic to the Hub of the Americas, where we now reside in a 150-year-old Spanish-colonial house in this city’s old town, Casco Viejo.
Where from here? I couldn’t tell you with certainty, but I can’t wait to find out.
And I believe that you’ll enjoy the same sense of childlike anticipation and delight as you make your way down your own path overseas…wherever it leads you.
So what are you waiting for?
Used by permission. To see more of Kathleen’s wisdom, visit Live and Invest Overseas.