Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Looking for a place to live - part 2

A house

Living in an RV was option 1. I already looked into it and thought it was a viable option for an aspiring extreme early retiree.
There are other alternatives though, the most obvious being a house.
Living in a house has the following benefits over living in an RV:
  • You have more space
  • Your mail is always delivered at your living place
  • You can have a garden
  • It's cosy and can have nice room temperatures in all weather conditions
  • It's probably emotionally satisfying to own your own house (unless you have a strong nomadic desire, in that case you might be happier in an RV)
There's a lot to talk about, when wanting to buy a house, but I'm gonna keep this post about buying a house in another country.

Moving abroad

Why would anyone want to live abroad? One of the reasons could be, because it's much cheaper to live in a country where the standard of living is lower. Your hard earned money could last a lot longer there.
Another reason could be, because you like adventure and wouldn't mind spending several years in a certain country, to learn more about it.
And last, but not least, because you fell in love with another country (or perhaps even a girl from another country) and you want to go and live there permanently.


Reason 1: cheaper standard of living

In the spirit of the extreme early retirement lifestyle, this reason for wanting to move abroad, is certainly a good one. You earn your money in a country, where the standard of living is high, and you make that money last longer in a country, where the standard of living is low.

This tactic could make it possible for you to retire much sooner than expected. Or it can give you more certainty. The problem is, however, that countries with a lower standard of living, have that lower standard for a reason. And the live you have grown acustomed to in the country, where you saved the money, will not be the same in the country you'll be living in. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. It depends on the country, the circumstances and your own emotions.

Emotional counter arguments

This brings be to an important issue with moving abroad. You can not bring friends and family with you. And no matter how pink your glasses are, moving to another country puts a big gap in distance between you and your current social life. You can make new friends everywhere, but it's not easy to leave your old friends and your family behind like that.

The miracles of the internet make it much easier, but talking through a computer with someone versus going to a bar with your buddies... it's not the same thing.

You should also know, that you have to break with your culture. If you really want to move to another country, you should respect that new country and embrace it's culture. Why else would you go and live there? You can not expect to live somewhere and force your own culture upon them. That's rude and not acceptable.

So moving abroad brings about a lot of emotional turmoil within yourself and your social network. You'll have to deal with it in your own way. But I know people who moved abroad and love it, so it is possible to deal with it and family and friends may be shocked at first, but if they really are friends, they'll respect your choice and deal with it too... in time.

Reason 2: the adventure

If you want to find out what a country is like, by living there a couple of years... don't. It's much better to go RV'ing if you want to do that. It's cheaper and you don't have the problems of having to buy, sell or rent a house.

Moving to another country, brings about a lot of paperwork. If you're only going to stay for a couple of years, only to return afterwards... you're going to have a lot of trouble getting reinstated. If you keep your nationality and an address in your own country, you can still stay for several periods in another country. You'll only have to return once in a while, to collect and handle your mail. And if you decide that the new country is worth living in, you'll have connections, knowledge and more confidence to actually move there after all, if that is your wish.

Reason 3: falling in love with a country

If you go on a holiday to another country, you might have a good time there. In fact, you might have a great time there and decide to come back the next year.

Sometimes, coming back to the same country several years, can make you bored of it and sometimes you start feeling more 'at home' there. Visiting the same place every year, has it's advantages (for those that still like the place after several visits).
You learn more about the culture
You visit non-touristic places, that give you a better understanding about the country
You make friends and connections
You start appreciating the country more

Beware of being blinded by the beauty of summer, though. A country might be completely different in the winter. Especially the sunny places. They have a lot of tourists in the summer, but could be rather dull in the winter. I'm not saying they are, but they could be.
That means that you have to find out first. You need to spend several months there in the winter too. This way, you can find out about the weather, how cold it is, do the people react in the same way if you come out of the tourist season, etc.

If you still like the place after that, you might have found yourself a good place to live.

Note:
Falling in love with someone from another country is a different situation. You'll get in contact with the culture much faster and you get to know about the country in more ways. And true love can not hold you in your country anyway. That makes it a matter of finding out that you made the right choice in love, a difficult subject this blog is not about. Sorry, I can't do it all.

Conclusion

Deciding to move abroad, can have many reasons. But they all imply in one way or another, that you like the new country and are ready to become a part of it.
A big downside to it, is that you'll have to leave your old life behind. That's not a big problem when it comes to culture, but it is a big problem when you loose contact with friends and family. Modern technologie can only substitute a part of real life, not everything.
In the end, it's you who decide what's best for you and whether it's possible, both financial and emotional.
But it is a good option, one that I'll also keep open in my search for a place to live.