Winter is coming, and 'tis the season, as they say. Just about the time the snow starts to fly back in the good 'ol USA is when we get that annual urge to count our blessings that we are fortunate enough to live and work abroad.
The sense of community in Otavalo, Ecuador will make you want to give thanks
Just to begin with the obvious ... we haven't shoveled snow in 15 years. It was in 2001 that we decided that we wanted to live in a place on the planet where we didn't have to shut ourselves in for months at a time and listen to the furnace burn money. During the last decade and a half, we've lived in several places just like that. And believe us, we have never regretted it.
An added benefit is that thanks in part to that better weather, our expenses plummeted. Living in a place where you need neither heating nor air conditioning most of the year can really improve the monthly budget ... so much so that we've managed to travel, dine out frequently, and even put a little money in the bank each month.
There's no need to shovel snow in Placencia, Belize
Another bonus is the fact that, in every single one of the seven communities we've lived in since moving abroad, our property taxes have been a fraction of what they were back in the States. Property taxes were once a much-dreaded annual occurrence for us. Now we can pay the property tax on our condo for the price of steak dinners for two and a decent bottle of pinot. Seriously. (Our property tax bill this year was just $49.)
And during an election cycle like this one, we're extremely thankful that we're outside the barroom brawl that is now U.S. politics. Like all U.S. citizens living abroad, we still pay our federal taxes and we still vote. But we do these things from a place where we can hear ourselves think ... a place where we can express our opinions without starting a fight. This calmness has probably added a few years back to our lives, and we're extremely thankful for that.
You can live a healthier, happier life in Panama City, Panama
Which brings up the people ... We live among some of the friendliest, most practical, and most helpful people you'd ever want to meet. Come to think of it, this has been the case in every community we've had the pleasure to call home in Latin America. Most of these people are not rich -- at least not financially.
But they are rich in ways that count ... Their wealth comes from payback of family, friends, and community. They care about one another -- and thankfully, they have accepted and care about us foreigners that live among them. No matter your status or origin or religion or political views, you are welcomed and accepted.
In a season of thanksgiving, we have much to be thankful for. We are indeed living a happier, healthier, more affordable life than we could back in the States. We love our home country, but by living outside its borders, we're able to save some money, enjoy year-around warm weather, distance ourselves from the constant negative news cycle, and most of all -- we enjoy life to the fullest.
You'll be thankful for a low cost of living in Costa Rica's Orosí Valley
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.