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3 Ways Retiring Overseas Can Help You Form More (and Stronger!) Friendships

By Sixty and Me November 11, 2019 Interviews

There’s no doubt that the thought of retiring overseas has its appeal. Lower living expenses – especially housing and health care costs – and a better climate can be very persuasive!

But for many of us, retiring abroad would also mean leaving family and long-time friends behind. And — especially if you’re a people person — being alone in a new country may sound more like solitary confinement than an exotic adventure.  

But what if you knew a welcoming committee would be waiting to help you settle in your adopted homeland? In today’s video interview, Margaret Manning’s long-time expat guests Dan Prescher and Suzan Haskins explain how that can happen for you.

As senior editors for International Living, Dan and Suzan have settled in seven different Latin American communities over the past two decades. So there’s very little they don’t know about making new friends in new places, while maintaining strong ties with the folks back home.

For three tips on how they do it, keep reading. And enjoy the video!

Retiring Overseas Doesn’t Mean Going Where No One Has Gone Before

In recent years, the number of people deciding to spend their retirement years abroad has exploded. So as you can imagine, a retirement destination with expats from your own country won’t be hard to find.

As Suzan puts it:

“…When you move overseas, you move into a community typically… of other expats who’ve gone ahead of you… So you’ll be reaching out to those people. You become part of what we call an expat tribe.”

For students of history, the idea of expat tribes is nothing new. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, millions of immigrants came to the States and settled in enclaves with others from their former countries.

And Dan observes that networking is networking, no matter where it happens:

Your best networks are formed when you’re in a new situation. You change schools, you change jobs, you move to another community. That’s how people make networks. And in expat communities, that… just happens instantly… by osmosis.

Retire Abroad and You’ll Never Walk Alone

No matter how much you think you love a place, there’s a huge difference between vacationing and retiring there. Navigating necessities like where to shop for your new household or even getting from place to place can be daunting.

But hooking up with the expat tribe will give you have access to their collective “Been there, done that” wisdom. Someone in the community will almost certainly have dealt with whatever issues you’re facing.

And even when you’ve comfortably settled in, Suzan says to expect the invitations to keep on coming. In most places, she advises, you’ll be asked to participate in “… a lot of volunteer organizations or events that go on.”

And even the locals will go out of their way to include you in community gatherings. After all, as an expat you’re as exotic to them as their customs and culture are to you!

Whether your passion is for arts and crafts, food, exploring the countryside or something else, sooner or later you’ll find people who share it. And that can be the basis for even deeper friendships.

Before You Retire Overseas: Will the Bonds Be Too Strong to Break?

Do you belong to the “Home is where the heart is” school? And know your heart lies with your family? If the answer is “Yes,” Suzan and Dan recommend thinking long and hard about retiring overseas.

This is especially important if you’re a grandmother who’d be missing out on the first steps, the first words, the first days of school and all the other “firsts.”

As great as they are at letting us keeping up with each other, Facebook and Skype can’t let us hug our loved ones. If there’s someone you hug on a regular basis, decide whether you can handle the separation before you move.

Unless like Dan and Suzan, you’re able to return home frequently and satisfy your hug hunger, it would wiswe to stay close to your loved ones.

No matter how much research you put into choosing your retirement spot, or how much time you’ve spent there in the past, Dan advises trusting your gut. And if it tells you that life without your family and long-time friends would be too painful, retire somewhere close to home.

If you’re planning to retire overseas, how well would you handle the separation from your family and friends? And how would you go about finding new relationships? Let’s have a conversation!

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The Author

Sixty and Me is a community of over 500,000 women over 60 founded by Margaret Manning. Our editorial team publishes articles on lifestyle topics including fashion, dating, retirement and money.

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