I’m seeing a yearning of many people around my age to return to a simpler time, like when we were growing up. My evidence: the hundreds of interviews I’ve done for Best Places in the World to Retire and the studies we did in which we asked expats about their lives abroad.
Interestingly, many Americans and Canadians have not only moved abroad partly to search for a life reminiscent of an earlier time, but quite a few tell me that they’ve found it — and in some very unlikely places, including Mexico, Panama, Belize and Nicaragua.
Here’s what they told us:
Less government involvement
It may sound odd that the government in countries considered to be socialist would have less government involvement than in the U.S., but in the day-to-day lives of the locals, it’s true. Whether these governments would want to be more involved or not, they simply don’t have the resources to do so. That means locals find themselves doing some things that the federal and state governments often do in the U.S.
“Having the government less involved creates an entirely different dynamic than north of the border,” explains Dr. Santiago Hernandez, formerly from the Chicago area and now practicing in Ajijic, Mexico, on Lake Chapala. “If there’s a problem, most locals don’t expect the government to fix it, so they either live with it or fix it themselves. This creates more community cohesion and a feeling of involvement and belonging.”
While this is true of locals, it is even truer among expats, especially the “fix it themselves” part.
In every location we cover at Best Places in the World to Retire, expats have formed charitable organizations completely independent of any government, for everything from spaying and neutering animals to beach cleanup to providing a library for local school children, as Daryl Bushnell helped to do in Granada, Nicaragua when he helped create and fund Puedo Leer (“I can read”).
This is one reason why many locals are so grateful and happy to have expats live among them; it is natural for their new neighbors to help. And they are doing so in a place that…