Thinking of retiring abroad?
If you are thinking about retiring abroad, then you might be wondering how you will cope with the adjustment. Our friends at Bower Retirement Services have spoken to a number of British expats to find out what made their move easier, and what challenges they were faced with.
David Wright, a British expat who moved to America in December 1999, has some advice for anyone wondering how to feel more at home after the big move.
“It really helps to become emotionally invested in your new home and country immediately,”
says David. He believes one of the best ways to achieve this is to think of yourself as an ‘immigrant’, rather than an ‘expat’. “My experience is that people who have an ‘expat’ mindset are much less likely to make a success of an international move than those who adopt the ‘immigrant’ mindset. Start thinking of your new home as ‘home’ and where you came from as ‘the old country”. Embracing the customs and language of your new home is also important. David recommends you “watch local TV news – don’t cling to the media of the old country. Stop watching the BBC.
Many people worry about making new friends. Amanda Adorni, a British expat in Santorini, Greece, has worked hard to make new friends and get to know more people in her new community. She believes using your hobbies and interests to meet people is key.
“I have a dog, so I have dog walking friends, I also volunteer at the local dog and donkey shelter so there are more friends there”, says Amanda. “I talk to everyone in the village, and in my seasonal summer job I know lots of people from hotels and villas.”
David Wright has some further advice for prospective expats looking to move abroad:
“Even if you weren’t very neighbourly in the UK, make more of an effort in your new home – host a BBQ for your new neighbours.” He believes integration is key for British expats settling in and making friends: “Avoid making too many British friends, they may help with the culture shock in the short term, but having too many will get in the way of integrating into your new home, so keep such friends as a small part of your new circle. In short, integrate!”
Another challenge of moving abroad is missing the home comforts you have enjoyed for most, or all, of your life. Cadburys chocolate, McVitie’s biscuits, PG Tips, all staples in a typical home in the UK, but sadly, not abroad. So how do British expats cope with their cravings for home comforts?
For David, sampling and learning to love the staples from your new home is vital. He recommends, “choosing a handful of things you will have visitors bring for you that you can’t get here, but think of them as treats, not staples.”
There may be challenges to face when you retire abroad, but for every challenge there is an adventure to be had, a new experience to be enjoyed, or an opportunity to grab with both hands. Or as British expat, Andrew Greenfield, says: “Go for it. It’s a great way to start over, and you’re never too old to do that”.