There are many ways that retiring overseas can improve your life. It can reduce your cost of living, while improving your overall quality of life. It can surround you with cultural experiences that you would have never have had back home. It can even act as a catalyst for reinvention.

That said, retiring abroad is not without its challenges. As the founder of a community of over 500,000 baby boomer women, I have heard hundreds of stories from people who have made the decision to make up and move to a new country. By far the biggest complaint that I hear is that it is difficult to make new friends.

So, today, I would like to tell you the 6 questions that I recommend to my friends when they tell me that they are having trouble making friends after retiring overseas. I hope that you find them useful as you get settled in your new home!

What Hobbies Did You Put on the Backburner as a Parent?

I loved being a mom. I still do, although my kids are both in their 30s and have their own children.

At the same time, I have to admit that, for most of my life, my kids’ hobbies were my hobbies. I spent so much time going to soccer games, video arcades and skateboarding parks, that I basically forgot that I had any of my own passions.

For example, when I was a young woman, I spent several months traveling around India. Along the way, I got really into yoga. Recently, I decided to restart my yoga practice and, while it wasn’t easy, I am so happy that I did! Not only do I feel better inside and out, but, I have also made several new friends along the way.

What did you used to love to do? Did you play tennis when you were younger? Did you love to paint? How about playing chess?

If you take a few minutes to think about it, I’m sure that you will find plenty of passions to fill your time. Once you have your list, look for groups that support your passion. Love tennis? Join a club? Like painting? Go talk with other local painters, or start creating works of art in the park. Like playing chess? There is almost certainly a chess club in your neighborhood… and, best of all, you don’t even need to speak the local language to play!

How Do You Want to Change the World?

As an older adult, it’s easy to sit around complaining about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket. It’s harder – but SO much more productive – to actually get out there and do something about it.

Best of all, the people who share your worldview often become close friends. After all, you don’t just share a hobby; you also share your desire to make the world a better place.

Are their local (or global) charities that you could get involved in? If so, what are you waiting for? If not, why not start a group yourself and start giving back?

What Do You Want to Do to Invest in Your Body?

Taking up a sport or going to the gym helps you to make friends in two ways.

First, fitness classes, sports and physical activities of all kinds are friend magnets. After all, you see the same people every week. In addition, you have plenty of time before and after each class to get acquainted.

That said, my advice is to be bold and take your friendship to another level as soon as possible. Find out what your gym buddies love to do. Then invite them to join you for an activity that you both love – even if it is just to play a game of chess before an aerobics class or to go to a movie as a group.

The second way that getting in shape helps you to make friends when retiring overseas is that it builds your confidence and gets you out of the house. In other words, when you feel good about your body, you are more likely to engage in the activities that will help you to make new friends.

What Gets You Up in the Morning? What Are Your Passions?

One of the great things about being in retirement – even if you are still working! – is that you finally have the time and mental freedom to explore your passions.

Think about it. When are the times when you feel truly happy? For me, I love walking down by the lake at sunrise. There is something about being out and about when the rest of the city is sleeping that energizes me and gets me ready for a new day!

I haven’t done this yet, but, my passion for sunrises could form the basis for a morning yoga group or a walking club. Don’t assume that your passions are unique to you. If you find something fascinating or fun, the chances are others do too!

How Can You Support Your Local Community?

I’m always amazed by how few people get involved in their communities when retiring overseas. After all, isn’t experiencing a local culture one of the reasons that you moved?

There are so many ways to get involved in your local community. For example, where I live, everyone has the opportunity to join the fire department as a volunteer. Other groups pick up trash, collect clothes for people less fortunate than themselves or volunteer at nursing homes.

The opportunities to get involved will vary by country. For example, in Bali, there are countless opportunities to get directly involved in supporting local families.

One thing is for sure; since so few people get involved, your support of your local community will help you to stand out. And, this is sure to lead to opportunities for new friendships.

What Groups Could You Start?

Don’t wait for people to come to you. They won’t. Instead, if you can’t find any groups that focus on your passions, start one… or two or three!

For example, one of my personal passions is train travel. So, about 6 months ago, I decided to start a group on Meetup for people who loved to travel by train. We’ve traveled to Austria, France and all over Switzerland. I can’t overemphasize how much a part of my life this group has being.

What groups would you start if you could build up the confidence to do so? Would you start a language practice group? How about a fishing club? Maybe you want to find other people who play darts, pool or another similar activity. I guarantee there are other people who want to find the same thing. So, be a leader and give the world something that it wants!

If you are retiring overseas, I am so happy for you! You are about to embark on an amazing adventure! I hope that these 6 questions help you to find the friendship that you deserve in your new home!

Are you thinking of retiring overseas? Which country or countries interest you? What advice would you give to a friend about making friends when retiring overseas? Please join the conversation!

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