The notion that one can simply leave one’s life behind, pack up and move to some exotic destination on another continent and start all over again is pure folly! The truth is that no one “simply” does this. An international move can take months, if not years of research, planning and execution. It can be, at the same time, both an exciting and scary undertaking!
Despite more than a year of research and preparation, there was a myriad of unanswered questions that could only be answered through the experience that was just ahead for Diane and me. As the airliner was being pushed back from the departure gate some 18 months ago in Miami, these unanswered questions flooded into my head as we were headed to our new lives on the coast of Ecuador; a place we had never visited! Were we completely crazy? Was this move to South America going to have the positive impact we anticipated? Could I really learn to speak Spanish?
In order to prepare for our move, the downsizing began months earlier! Every possession in every box, closet, drawer, attic, basement, garage and storage unit was physically touched and a decision was made as to its disposition. What remained after this grand purging and how we chose to deal with the remains is what separates expats in the early stages.
Some will pack only the suitcases allowed by the airlines, usually 3 per person, and board a jet to rendezvous with their new lives on another continent. Others will fill a container with the worldly trappings they have collected and ship their possessions to their new home.
Diane and I decided to do a complete purge, selling everything but the most important and personal possessions. We distributed some items to friends and family, packed what was left into our allotted six suitcases (3 each) placed our beloved Chihuahua into a small carrier for the 4 hour ride to Quito, Ecuador and ordered a glass of wine from the flight attendant at the first opportunity!
The preparations required for our International retirement move were, indeed, quite significant. But guess what! It was totally worth it! Our new lives are providing all that we hoped. Our cost of living is a fraction of what it was in the states. Fruits and vegetables are grown locally by the many farmers in the area. There is an abundance of fresh and inexpensive seafood available daily from local fishermen. The pace of life has slowed to a comfortable crawl and we are, indeed, learning to speak Spanish. Our rent for our first, completely furnished condo in a beautiful complex was $450 per month just across the street from the surf! The inconveniences of living in a developing nation with occasional power and Internet outages seem hardly noticeable when compared to the many advantages.
I think back to our early days as expats. It was and remains a spectacular adventure! In fact, I recorded our initial experiences in a book entitled, “Our Ecuador Retirement…The First 8 Months” and made it available on Amazon for Kindle. When I want remind myself of how far we’ve come, I read it again.