Guess what? The key to your “thriving” or “diving” overseas may just be in your motives.
If you’ve been thinking about heading out to a new life overseas, you’re certainly in good company. And in light of this week’s astounding U.S. election results, I suspect many Americans young and old who’d already believed their beloved country to be vanishing may be even more ready to jump than ever. Is that you?
Expat populations have risen significantly all over the world for the last decade or so, most especially with retirees. These numbers will grab you: International Living reported that the U.S. Social Security Administration sent out just under 250,000 benefit checks to retirees abroad in 2002. By 2014, that number had climbed to over over 613,000.
Cuenca expats mug for the camera.
Can you imagine what it is now, and what it could be over the course of the next year? That’s only referring to retired Americans, too, and only those who can be tracked because their checks are sent abroad. The numbers are tougher to find for Canadians, but you can bet they’re equally as striking.
The trouble is, if you really want to create a fulfilling life abroad, the urge to “get the heck out of Dodge” just can’t be the only reason.
Holiday events are big draws in Cuenca.
Remember that old saying about how we should always be going toward something in life, not just running away? Well, that’s especially true if the only thing you have in mind is to escape the madness at home. Yes, there are many valid, negative reasons we can all point to for feeling compelled to leave one’s country, be they financial, political, medical, or otherwise. But there’s also another side to be keenly aware of, too. A side that’ll guarantee a happy, thriving life if you dare to move overseas someday.
You see, most fulfilled expats didn’t just leave their countries behind to get away from it all. In fact, they started out by daring to dream, letting that liberating concept of finally being able to define and create a new life on their terms take hold. They, too may have had some of those “getting out of Dodge” motives, but the ones that really got them going most likely began with the seed of any or all of the following:
Expats at a favorite cafe.
> Yearning to “live the dream”
> Living the rest of life in paradise
> To enjoy more adventure, fun and excitement
> To live differently than ever before: perhaps more healthfully, soulfully, or peacefully.
But do you really want to know the key to why some expats “thrive” instead of “dive”?
Thrivers tend to have had one primary motive in mind for the leap above all others: to embrace a particular country’s traditions, people and culture. Some wind up in a place they may have always felt an affinity for, while others discover their ultimate destination through lots of research and a bit of serendipity. Either way, from the minute they arrive these expats seek to learn and explore – and despite coming up against some very funky or unattractive features on occasion — still strive to savor their unique new lifestyle. They treasure the many opportunities to continue grow in ways never imagined, no matter what their age. Would you?
The Aspiring Expat You
So, will you be a “thriver” or a “diver”? Now’s the time to explore your own reasons. Are you primarily seeking to escape the madness? Or, are you excited to be going toward a new and exciting life abroad? Sit back and jot down your personal motives. And don’t worry that it’s a little of both – that’s only natural. Just make sure it’s a healthy balance of the two!
Trish LaPlaca is owner and manager of the expat service Aspire To Retire
Abroad (www.aspiretoretireabroad.com). She provides coaching to
prospective expats, information about living abroad and maintains a blog
of relevant information.