So You Want to Live in Another Country (Part 2)

My friends By and Mariah lived in Boquete, and now live in Medellin Colombia. This is the second in a series of articles By has written about the expat experience.

https://link.medium.com/B0v6qe2A1V

Read the article, but the main points he makes are:

  • Factor in travel expenses because chances are you will want to go back to see family and friends.
  • Will you feel guilty about moving away from family and friends? Will family and friends make you feel guilty?
  • Will you feel guilty about “doing nothing” after years of work, earning money, and contributing to the world?
  • Will you feel guilty about having more money than most of the people around you in your adopted country?

For me, we can afford travel because our cost of living is so much less. If we were still in Florida but not working, travel would be out of the question. Now that I have grandkids, I’m especially thankful to be able to visit every few months. Yes it takes time, but I have time now.

Guilty about moving away? No, but I didn’t live close to my kids before. My family – we are not that way with each other. Friends who make me feel guilty for any of my choices are not friends.

“Doing nothing”? There are numerous opportunities to volunteer, and how nice to choose without worry if it covers the bills. I felt guilty about not doing anything, and I don’t seem to be recovering from the work that drained me dry. But I’m slowly coming to the realization that I’ve done enough in my life, and being happy and positive is “doing something” enough.

Guilty about having money? No. We live a modest but very comfortable life, and now I have some extra to share with causes and people I believe in. I feel extremely fortunate, not guilty.

As I’ve  said before, there are many things that are common to most of us in this expat experience, but it’s also a very individual experience.

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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6 Responses to So You Want to Live in Another Country (Part 2)

  1. MEBE in Medellin says:

    Muchas gracias, Kris, lo aprecio mucho. Hola a su esposo.

    B

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  2. Hi Kris,

    It’s interesting to read your thoughts on work — it could be draining for sure and as I recall you had a lot more hassles/stress with yours than I did with mine. Byron is surprising me a bit with his candid thoughts in his Medium series. I hadn’t realized he was so acutely studying my lack of direction/purpose since losing my career. Though learning Spanish was a great focus, so perhaps I’ll go beyond just bilingual and take it to the next level, with a focus on becoming fluent. I will figure it out because the climate, the culture, and life here is too good to leave, and quite frankly I cannot imagine living in the US again until the hate filled culture goes away, which is unlikely in our lifetime, if ever.

    You make a great point about family, living here does give us the $$ to go spend time with them 2 or 3 times a year. Plus, like you guys, we are also doing some traveling. Your Cuba trip was filled with rich experiences creating forever memories, where are you heading next?

    Thanks for your perspectives.

    Abrazos, Mariah

    >

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    • Yeah, I was beyond done with work! Lack of direction seems to be a challenge for many retirees, no matter where they are. Maybe I’m lucky that I’m always into something, though it’s taken some adjustment to do things for myself and not because they are useful to anyone else.
      I can’t imagine living in the US again either. I’d lose that sense of community and inclusion that I so enjoy here, and then there’s all that other stuff.
      Cuba was quite the experience! Even basic necessities were so hard to come by. Next we are thinking maybe Colombia or Mexico, maybe in a few months. If we land in your neighborhood you will be hearing from us 😁

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  3. Felipe says:

    Excellent observations. The guilt thing can come as a surprise, but I’ve had that myself just by moving away from family after college, though I had to for a job. I appreciate your comment about having done enough in your life and just being happy should suffice. I’m about ready for that, but am getting pressure at leaving a 33 year career without a “plan.” I’m not sure how to figure out a plan if I don’t have time to think. I’ve saved the money, but have no idea how I’d fill the day if I had nothing pulling at me. Just biking, gardening, volunteering and leisurely going to the market sounds like enough.

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  4. A lot of things aren’t particular to Panama. Any moving away would have similar issues, and any retirement. Your plans sound like enough to me too. It’s hard to know until you get there, and then half the fun is figuring it out and doing whatever you feel like doing, even if it’s just sitting on the terrace.

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