It's Hard To Be Humble When You're An Expat

<p>Grecia, Costa Rica</p>

Grecia, Costa Rica

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January and February aren't good for my humility.

These are the months when I get the most emails and Facebook messages from my friends and family up north complaining about the hideous deep freeze that is winter in most of the U.S. and Canada.

"A foot of snow last night. Picture of the back yard...that lump in the middle is the dog house. Another six inches on the way."

"Power out, furnace dead. Sitting on the couch in parka and boots waiting for heat to come back on."

"Just got the heating bill. Need a drink, but can't afford one now."

"Hit some black ice. Nobody hurt, but car will probably need a new front end."

And because I'm a human being with all the failings that come with the species, I always respond with a weather report from where I'm living.

"A little chilly here this morning, got down to the mid-50s F last night, but by afternoon it was back up in the 70s F. Just like yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that..."

It's pride, plain and simple. My wife and I made the decision 15 years ago to take the easy way out and move to a place where the weather doesn't empty your bank account or threaten your health and safety.

And, human frailties being what they are, we take pride in our decision.

We didn't have to make the move. We could have stuck it out where we were. That's what most of our friends and family have done, and they manage to get through the winters somehow, just like we used to do. And we understand that many of them aren't in a position to just pack up and move somewhere else...or at least, they believe that they aren't. They have things that they believe are tying them down where they are, even if it's just an unwillingness to try something different.

We were willing to try something different, and in our experience, it's not that hard to move abroad. It can certainly be warmer, and for us it turned out to be vastly cheaper. Rent is cheaper, healthcare is cheaper, taxes are cheaper, and compared to the cost of sticking around for North American winter, utility costs are much, much cheaper.

Sure, we had some advantages...we were old enough to not have a houseful of dependent children, and we were young enough that our parents were active and healthy. We also had careers that we could work at online, so anywhere with an internet connection worked for us. If we'd been retired, it would have been even easier.

But, humans that we are, even those advantages don't stop us from being proud of ourselves for making the move in the first place. Each time I reply to one of those winter emails from back home, I'm doing it from somewhere warmer and cheaper. Which means that, with each one of my replies. I'm really patting myself on the back a little.

It's hard to be humble when you're sitting on the beach or strolling the village square in a t-shirt and flip-flops in January.

But I'm working on it. Outside. In shorts.