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. 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. Many expats have also told me that, as life in America becomes increasingly busy and disconnected, there has been a reduction in the importance of the family. Only after the child did this with each adult would the youngster then go play with the other kids. Remember when we were children and entered a room, we would acknowledge adults first, in our own cultural way? Do local family members sometimes work together because they need the money? Are the larger cities south of the border becoming more like ones in the U.S. and Canada? However, if you long for the sense of community, respect and family you recall growing up, you’ll find lots to appreciate and enjoy about life today in the popular expat destinations of Mexico, Panama, Belize and Nicaragua.
This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org.
I had been planning my retirement for years. I read all the literature about my pension and ran all the calculations. I reduced my spending. I got completely out of debt and even added a little padding to my savings. So why did I fear what is supposed to be the best time of life? Why did I awfulize retirement — thinking so much about the things that could go wrong that I was afraid to retire?
The truth is, I was far from alone.
Now that I’m retired and traveling around the world, I have met many retirees — tourists, expats, and nomads — who’ve expressed frustration with themselves about how they had awfulized what has turned out to be the best time of their lives.
Why I was awfulizing retirement
In my case, even I was surprised that I had awfulized retirement. After all, from the time I began working as a teenager, I fantasized about living what I now call “Life Part 2” (which is also the name of my blog about my experiences as a retiree globe-trotter). And although I enjoyed my 25 years working as an air-traffic controller, near the end of my career I longed for the days when I could set my own course, travel the world and do my photography. I wanted to leave the comfortable cage I had built for myself, live life “closer to the bone,” challenge my boundaries and explore the world. I was ready.
Or so I thought. But what, I wondered, if my assumptions and estimates were wrong? What if I hadn’t saved enough? What if the cost of health care soared out of reach? What if inflation shot up? What if my investments took a dive? What if I outlived my plan?
How fear distorts the picture
When pondering retirement, many people fantasize about, say, life on the beach or having time to write the next great American novel or finally being able to spend more time with our grandchildren. But when action and decision making are required, fear distorts the picture. Opportunity starts to look like a nightmare. The human brain is an amazing thing, but it doesn’t deal with uncertainty very well.
Retirement is a bet on the future, and no one can anticipate all the unknowns. The data is necessarily incomplete. When confronted with incomplete data, our brains look at the information gaps and fills them with fear. To…