If we had a super power such as 20/20 hindsight, would we have done things differently back in 2001 when we were preparing to leave the pastures of Nebraska for greener ones overseas?
Applying that same hindsight ability to our lives as expats over the past 14 years, is there anything we might have done differently over the years if we'd known then what we know now?
Maybe. But probably not.
If you've followed our posts, you know that our journey has taken us to many, many countries where we've explored the benefits and challenges of expat life. We ourselves have lived as expats in seven different communities in four different countries: Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, and Nicaragua.
All our past experiences have made us who we are...relatively self-confident and non-judgmental people who don't sweat the small stuff and take most everything in stride. At least, that's who we think we are... Our kids might disagree with that.
Still, we can't help but take stock once in a while to see if we're still on the life path we want to be on. Part of that "stock-taking" entails looking backward.
At the very least, we should have taken our own advice and profiled ourselves a bit more intensely. Of course, that didn't become part of our advice mantra until just a few years ago when we realized how beneficial this idea can be.
You have to know who you are and what you want from your overseas experience.
Not to belabor this point we've written about before, but our personal example is that we thought we wanted to live near the coast to enjoy fun in the sun...days full of watersports, and evenings at funky little beach bars. That's how we spent our vacations, and we thoroughly enjoyed that lifestyle.
That is, of course, until we tried it. We quickly learned we're not cut out for a full-time hot-and-humid climate. We much prefer cool evenings where we can fling the windows open and sleep beneath a comfy blanket.
Now that we're older, while we find watersports still fun, it takes us much longer to recover from a day of snorkeling or boating.
And nightlife? Well, give us an intimate dinner at home with friends over a beach bar any night.
Today, our favorite vacations are to cities with lots of cultural and foodie offerings. But we live in a tiny rural village... Go figure.
What you want from life changes as you get older. As younger people, we didn't see that coming.
That's not to say we're ready for the rocking chair. Not a chance. There's plenty yet to see and do...and you may see us living in a big city or even at the beach again someday...although most likely in a more temperate climate than the heart of the tropics.
We often wonder if moving around so much (like we said...seven communities in four countries) was the right thing to do.
We made great friends in all those places, but how much richer might those relationships be if we'd stuck in one place for the duration? We might be a bit better off financially, too, if we'd not cashed out and moved on so often.
But that's not our way. We're nomads at heart. And you can't put a price on happiness or experiences--and we've enjoyed a boatload of both and we wouldn't trade any of it for anything.
Hypothetically, a related issue is that if we had put down roots in one place--in the first place we landed, for example--it might have been wise to move our household goods with us.
Friends who have done this say this was the right thing for them. They figure the cost of moving their stuff was a wash compared to the cost of buying all new stuff. They're probably right.
But it wasn't the right choice for us. We love finding a new home and making it uniquely our own. And then doing that again in a totally different landscape and culture.
So...if we'd known then what we know now, would we have done things differently?
If we were other people, the answer would probably be yes.
But we're us. And we love our life and all the divergent paths it's taken us on.
So as welcome as hindsight might be, it's a super power we don't seem to need.