An increasing number of retirees, near-retirees, single people -- even families with children -- are exploring the option of moving abroad for better quality of life and lower cost of living.
Harbor in Cascais, Portugal
Making the decision to leave your home country for greener pastures is a huge one, and we congratulate you if you're even seriously considering it. Even if you decide not to make the move, researching the option is a sure sign that you're thinking creatively about your own life and looking at a much bigger picture than many other people ever do.
But once you have made the decision to try life abroad, your choices and decisions have just begun.
For example, we recently read an interesting blog by a couple moving to the Gulf Coast of Mexico. After a brief exploratory trip, they started to wonder if they might not prefer to live a few blocks back from the beach in the community they'd chosen instead of right on the beach as they originally intended ... they'd discovered that the costs to buy and rent property even a single block back from the beach was significantly cheaper.
This little adjustment in thinking is the tip of a decision-making iceberg for people considering moving away from their comfort zones back home. It's something we call "reality slap," and it happens to some people almost as soon as they get off the plane.
Depending on how they've done their research, they may have mistaken impressions from the stories and accounts they've read. It's easy to find articles on the internet about $250-per-month rents, $60,000 beach bungalows, $2.50 four-course lunches, couples living on a single Social Security check, and the like. And those accounts are true ... we've seen and experienced all of these things in the 15 years since we moved abroad ourselves.
Landscape of Guanajuato, Mexico
But some people assume from what they've read on the internet that entire countries are represented by those stories ... that as soon as they get off the plane, they will find $250-per-month rents, $60,000 beach bungalows, $2.50 four-course lunches, and couples living on one Social Security check on every street of every neighborhood of every village, town, city, and beach they visit in the country they've chosen.
As we said, those stories are all true ... we've seen them all for ourselves. But they're true because of the choices people make after they choose to move abroad.
Like the choice between living on the beach or a few blocks back from the beach.
Like the choice between living on or near the beach in a little fishing village or in a large resort town.
Like the choice between living in a little village or a large resort town in the interior of a country instead of at the seaside.
Like the choice of a specific neighborhood in that village or town or city.
Like the choice to rent or to buy in a particular neighborhood in a particular village or town or city...and the choice of how large that apartment or condo or home is ... or what size the acreage is...
Each and every one of these choices directly affects cost, convenience, and quality of life. Expecting every street you roam down when you explore Ecuador, Panama, Thailand, Mexico, or Portugal, to have exactly the same types, costs, and availability of services, goods, and properties as every other is obviously unrealistic. But you'd be amazed how many people make that assumption.
Beach, back-beach, or interior of the country. Village, city, or campo (countryside). Apartment, house, or condo. Upscale neighborhood or working-class neighborhood. Dining out five times a week or cooking for yourself. Shopping at the local mercado or in the nearest upscale supermarket.
Rural Landscape in Hua Hin, Thailand
All of these choices will affect your costs and quality of life. The more you know beforehand about what you need to be comfortable, the less surprises you will have.
Make your decision about your needs with as much honesty as you possibly can. Because the choices you make after you decide to move abroad in the first place will affect everything to do with your quality of life once you go on your adventure.
This article comes to us courtesy of InternationalLiving.com, the world's leading authority on how to live, work, invest, travel, and retire better overseas.