It seems as if I’m staying just one jump ahead of the cold weather which is now barrelling across Arizona where I just attended the International Living conference and spent two days with my brother and his family. It was actually hot last week in Phoenix and it has been in the eighties here in Dunedin and Clearwater, Florida. But that changes tonight as temperatures drop into the sixties.
In case you heard about the Florida sinkhole that swallowed two houses last week in Dunedin, Florida……. that happened just three blocks away from the house where I am staying now. My good friend, Fawn Germer, met me at the airport and brought me home where CNN helicopters were hovering overhead and police had a nearby street cordoned off so the demolition crew could quickly get the damaged houses off the delicate surface. We stood beside the traumatized owners while their roofs and walls were knocked down and eighty-five dump truck loads of brown dirt replaced their lives. Today, those two home lots are simply fenced-in, smoothed over dirt fields, looking as if they’re ready for planting.
While I drag all my possessions around in two heavy packs and study lists of duties to see to before jumping off to a life in Uruguay; these families are lucky to have their lives, in spite of the ripping violence that swallowed swimming pools and half the houses into a 56-foot deep sinkhole.
Life goes on in this neighborhood and I must admit, that I haven’t even worried that Fawn’s house might go too. I moved to an already-scheduled Airbnb and took care of many business duties in town, such as banking and medical stuff like inoculations and getting things from the shed at the old house, now rented long-term. Fawn simply increased her insurance coverage and went on a scheduled kayaking/camping trip, bringing me back to housesit for her beautiful pets, who are also not the least bit worried.
Florida sinkholes are extremely random events.
But, I do believe that I shall fly out from under that messy Arizona weather right about the time that it slices into Florida next Wednesday. American Airlines will send me south to Miami and then, to Montevideo’s summertime, where I shall land on Thanksgiving Morning, like the Mayflower Pilgrim that I am.
My relatives, John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, landed in America almost 400 years ago. Now, I shall do that in SOUTH America. Of course, they didn’t immediately celebrate with a big Thanksgiving feast. That came much later after surviving sickness and terribly harsh winter weather. But, I know they said prayers of gratitude upon landing, as I shall.
Tell you what! After I have survived the rigors of locating a great place to rent; have found the expat community and made a bunch of Uruguayan buddies (some of the friendliest people on the planet); and when I have learned a little Spanish; and gotten my permanent visa applied for….. then, I’m gonna cook a turkey with all the trimmings and have a Thanksgiving party of my own. That could happen at the end of May, 2014, which is the equivalent of November in the southern hemisphere. After all, it’s the arrival of the modern-day MAYflower that we’re celebrating!
All of these new adventures are going to be captured on my new camcorder in short postings that you will see here. It’s bound to be very wiggly photography, as I don’t know how to use this object, but things will improve with practice, as will my Espanol. Stay tuned!
What’s even better than traveling the world, spending money right and left to get where you’re going; eating every culture’s delicious cooking… sampling their wine…. right in the valley where it was harvested?
Far better than that is to sit in a room with a hundred others of your “somewhat advanced” generation, and know that the world is right at your fingertips, just waiting to be plucked and plonked into your own personal future. We, wanna-be expats here at this International Living conference, are all such enthusiastic optimists! Preparing to start over in a foreign-speaking country of our choosing, trying to decide which money-making opportunity to zero in on, and how much time we wish to devote to our new career. As opposed to how much hammock therapy is necessary. The beauty of it is that we truly can choose the outlines of a new life abroad and, for the next two days, will have so many experts and such great resources to draw upon.
It’s 6 a.m., here in Phoenix at the Fund Your Life Overseas Conference sponsored by International Living Magazine, and I’m bouncing with new ideas. Expect to see more frequent postings on this site as I try to capture the flavour of what it’s like to Start Over Again, as opposed to the many years that I spent thinking about it on the world trail, trying to figure out where I wanted to live when I grew up. Last month, I realized that it was time to cut to the question, pick a country…”Eeenie, meenie, minie, moe!” and just up and do it! I bought a one-way ticket to Montevideo, Uruguay. Why not?
Suddenly, this is me in motion, already so excited I can hardly sleep. Plus, I’m auditioning for a new job that gobsmacked me as I walked across the hotel lobby last night. Imagine that!? I merely reported to a conference official that the restroom doors were still locked in our networking area, and in the course of our solving that, she invited me to write for IL’s new publication, Income Stream, a column called “The First Year,” giving the fresh perspective of a newbie expat. Wow, I can do that because it’s what this blog and my Hey Boomers book has been about all along: how it feels to throw yourself out on an unsuspecting world and to survive most grandly.
The new ingredient to the expat angle is that you don’t have to go broke doing it. In fact, money is at the root of our decision to leave home in the first place. It just doesn’t stretch as far in this country any more, so most of us must become creative and proactive while we wake up and harvest the roses somewhere else. And boy, are there a whole lot of good possibilities waiting to be plucked up:
There’s a franchise called Tutor Doctor where you build and manage a network of tutors anywhere in the world; as well as programs for six-figure copywriting, travel writing and other ways to generate a living from your keyboard. Turnkey ecommerce businesses in a box, selling all sorts of drop-ship items, can be custom-designed or bought readymade with expert mentoring throughout. There are also careers in niche tour leading; international real estate investments, which you can now learn about just as they appear on the market; stock photography websites creating ongoing cash flow for your best vacation shots. And there’s always English teaching jobs, worldwide. Any one of these exciting ways to earn money can give you autonomy and freedom to make a moveable feast of your life.
Retirement could be the best job you ever had! And possibly, the busiest. But only if you want it that way. Hammock time is important too.
Where and when, in my journey of ten-thousand miles (and counting) did I decide to become an expat? And exactly what is that, anyway?
Well, an expat is still a loyal American and isn’t leaving this country in a huff to make a statement of protest. In fact, those who move offshore are upstanding senior citizens, with family and property in the U.S., seeking ways to live well on their retirement income in countries where the dollar stretches to allow a far-better lifestyle than is possible here at home.
Right now, I’m luxuriating at the Hilton Phoenix Mesa Hotel, on the first day of International Living’s Fund Your Life Overseas three-day Conference. In less than three weeks, I’ll be exploring Montevideo, Uruguay, as a new American expat, and I’ll take you with me, step-by-step, into my new life. Where will I live? Who will I know? What will fill my days? Will I actually learn Spanish this time?
Today is the first day of the rest of my life! Yikes!
I’ll write about it all, naturally; but it dawned on me that I should also capture this adventure visually. I’m even thinking of buying a camcorder to tape my reports from ground zero. Maybe, someday, you’d like to follow in my footsteps? Possibly, I can help you to take heart and make your own retirement-enhancing opportunities. Believe me, I couldn’t have done this alone. I wouldn’t have known where to start.
My Social Security has funded two year-long meandering solo journeys around this globe, but I’d never have had a clue that the Expat Opportunity even existed if I hadn’t stumbled upon INTERNATIONAL LIVING MAGAZINE, (IL), http://www.InternationalLiving.com, about two years ago. My latest trip around the Southern Hemisphere took me to the West Coast in July, 2012, to head across the Pacific. When I learned that IL’s Travel Writing Conference in San Francisco coincided with my schedule, I signed up for it as an obvious way to turn my passion for global wandering into an income stream. It would certainly help justify these itchy feet if they kicked up a little cash, now and then.
But the conference did so much more than hone my interest in travel writing. After all, I was already a published author, times three; with a travel book aimed towards senior citizens. I had two active blogs and a passion for constantly writing in my journal. How hard could it be? As it turned out, the magazine writing is still waiting to take off, because leisure, privacy, and Wi-Fi connections to nurture that trade, were hard to come by, given my rough-travel lifestyle on this pass around the globe.
I frequently stayed in hostels’ mixed dormitories; sleeping in bunk beds and sharing bathrooms down the hall. Plus, I was socializing and kicking back with people a third my age and I couldn’t just disappear into my computer upon check-in. This setup is not conducive to serious writing; though truly, I found article composition easier than the research necessary to query magazines and fulfil their editorial requirements. It’s just not exactly a hostel-friendly activity but I have big plans to crank out some beautiful articles using my notes and photos generated on that trip once I settle down in my new expat routine in Uruguay.
And that whole plan could not have happened if I hadn’t attended the International Living conference on my way overseas. Because, once this dedicated staff embraces you, they will never abandon you! To be sure, I joined their ranks as a lifetime member and have since signed up for many perks and online study courses…..because their goals fit mine perfectly. I hear from them more often that I do from friends and family!
A very big part of International Living’s goal is helping retirees identify their very best international city to settle in, and then, helping us find ways to create or supplement an income if we need to do so. Thirty-five years of specializing in how to earn a living overseas has given them a true overview of wealth production because their many protégées have reinvented themselves so creatively. Many turn into entrepreneurs with businesses they didn’t expect to discover; perhaps trading on a hobby or a brand-new idea to fill a niche. Others go online in home-based businesses they can operate from a hammock on the beach…. if they can type better than I can lying down. Because of new digital possibilities, we have, virtually, no limitations.
Thanks to International Living, I believe in myself even more and am ready to tackle the scary part of trying to stay still in one place for a long time, rather than the global swanning about that I’ve become so good at, lately. Thus begins my report to you as to how this is working for me.
Yes, it’s true. My life is just about to begin again at the fantastic, and completely optimistic age of 76 and counting. After a lovely month here in Golden, Colorado, near Denver, with my darling family, I’m launching a new career in a new country, where I know no one and don’t speak the native language – Spanish. Not a problem! I’ll make new friends and take language classes. It won’t be much different from changing countries every few weeks on my around-the-world travels, except that I’ll be looking for a more permanent home base.
A few days from now, I fly to Phoenix, Arizona, to attend International Living Magazine’s conference, Fund Your Life Overseas, designed to teach retirees how to live and work offshore much more economically than is possible here in the United States. For 35 years, IL has been helping seniors settle in countries where their social security will stretch further and where health care is as good, or superior to, what is found here at home. By now, they have also identified careers that can be done by computer from anywhere in the world….. a beautiful beach in Thailand or Belize…for instance, and that is the theme of this meeting I’ll be attending next week.
Fortunately, I don’t need to work but am keen to see how to earn money from things that come naturally to me, such as writing: blogging, advertising copywriting, travel writing and book production; or taking pictures as I go: stock photography; or selling things that I’m passionate about online through an ecommerce version.
That would include items which have proved essential to me as a world traveller: flight suits/jump suits (that 1970’s beloved style, which I have always adored), now roaring back into fashion. BUT, I must locate or invent a drop-seat version and find those styles suitable to women over 21. Other essentials are the exact-right-sort of belly bag to carry the brains of your operation: passport, credit/debit cards, checkbook or register, cash and, most important, lipstick. You wouldn’t believe how many badly-fitting belly bags are out there! This goes for the no-nonsense, small, backpack that substitutes for a purse on the road. I don’t want to look like a schoolkid, but I do need the space for my laptop, my journal, my Kleenex, current reading material and all other essential travel stuff.
Plus, every time I schlep my suitcase and carry-on bags to and fro, I mentally design the kind of luggage cart that no one has made yet: one with a wheelbase like a stroller or baby carriage, instead of the present kind which puts all the weight on your dragging or pushing shoulder. This seems like a no-brainer to me, along with drop-seats on your jump suit…. but manufacturers seem not to have woken up to this. Anyway, these are the items that my fictional ecommerce site would carry if I decide to go that route.
Now, where am I headed on this Reinvention Phase of my life? To Uruguay, down on the Atlantic Coast of South America, just a tad north of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s a wonderful country and very high on International Living’s scoreboard of great places for expats to settle. Modern; European; much less expensive than the U.S.; high standard of medical care; quiet political situation, with parties taking turns in office; well-educated population; Spanish-speaking but a fair amount of English spoken in the cities. Uruguay’s long coastline forms the “Italian Riviera of South America,” where Brazilians and Argentines flock in summertime and rentals are so high that people snap up any properties for sale as great real estate investments.
I was in the beautiful old town of Colonia del Sacramento in 2009 and I completely loved it. Trees grow across the cosy streets, meeting in a green canopy and casting backlighting over the small downtown. Vintage cars sit in front of little cafes with tiny tables in their center and upholstered, old-fashioned car benches for a couple to eat their meal in private. Rusty old Model T convertibles, serve as flower boxes with riots of red geraniums in bloom. It’s very charming. So, I’m expecting similar surprises throughout the whole country.
We’ll soon see, as I land in the capital, Montevideo, on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, after a few days in the old hometowns of Clearwater/Dunedin, Florida to wrap up all business on the way south. Stay tuned!