We've written before about the many ways retirees and other expats who relocate to foreign countries keep themselves busy. Especially if you're retired, one big question involved in moving overseas is how to fill your time.
It seems like a silly notion, but we've seen it happen ... people move to some exotic location, like Ecuador or Panama, with perfect weather and interesting culture and, within a few months, find themselves at loose ends. Utilities are hooked up, Internet is on, routes to the hardware store and mercado are figured out, favorite restaurants are made part of the weekly schedule, nearby attractions are visited ... and suddenly the pressure is off. Life gets easy. Especially if you move to one of the several expat destinations where no second language is required, you can find yourself with a lot of time on your hands.
The opportunities to do volunteer work in schools, pet shelters, soup kitchens, and the like are so abundant that many expats we know are actually busier than they were before they retired and moved abroad.
However, volunteering isn't for everyone ... and that's why there are hobbies. Many expats we know make a hobby out of researching and understanding the culture they've relocated into, and with the indigenous cultures found in many popular expat destinations, this can be fascinating. Other expats take or offer pottery, sewing, sculpting, exercise, and other classes.
But what if you have a hobby that you loved back home and can't find a way to appease in your new locale?
With the advent of the Internet, that situation is now almost extinct.
For example, we ourselves have two hobbies that are nearly unrepresented in the little Ecuadorian craft village we live in (Cotacachi), but that we can still spend hours doing online. One is jazz guitar, and the other is travel planning.
Online guitar lessons are an industry in themselves nowadays, and we've found good jazz teachers giving excellent lessons from many great resources ... So many in fact that we're amazed at the level and detail of instruction available with a simple Internet connection. The only other thing necessary is a guitar.
Same with travel planning. You may not think of travel planning as a hobby, but picking interesting destinations and then hunting up deals on airfares, accommodation, tours, activities, festivals, and everything else that goes into organizing an extraordinary trip can all be done online now ... and can keep a dedicated travel addict happily occupied for evenings on end, either planning dream trips or actual junkets with family or friends.
Photography, blogging, gaming, meditation ... the list of hobbies that can be indulged online is long and getting longer all the time. If you like to read you can download books ... movie lovers have access to hundreds of thousands of movies ... if you like to cook you can find and collect recipes AND possibly make a little side money providing sought-after comfort foods to fellow expats. We even know a modeler who has found an online source for 3D projects that are printed on and then assembled out of common printer paper. The possibilities are endless.
We're not proposing that anyone retire, pack up, move abroad ... and then spend all their time sitting inside in front of a computer. Engaging with a new and interesting local culture is one of the biggest benefits of relocating overseas.
But if you have a hobby that you think you'll have to leave behind if you move abroad, or if you think you can't find an interesting one outside your home country ... think again. If someone in your new community isn't already doing it, the chances are excellent that -- in between volunteer projects, local tours and festivals, language lessons, and expat dinner parties -- you'll find something to occupy your time.