What is the perfect abode?
Luckily, the answer is not the same for everyone. After our mortality wakeup call and decision to quit the 9 to 5 we realised that we could not retire in our hometown.
As experienced travellers, we already knew where we enjoyed travelling to and what we enjoyed doing while there. This enabled us to put together our own personal wish list for the perfect abode. We knew that we wanted:
• A home with a view, either mountain, lake or ocean
• Close enough to the ocean to fulfill our SCUBA urges
• A small village or town rather than a big city
• Readily available fresh produce and/or room to grow our own
• Some expats nearby, especially in a non-English speaking country
• A vibrant community spirit that we could be involved with
This is the list we started with, it has changed and developed as have we. By traveling slow and taking advantage of housesitting and long-term rentals, we have a much clearer understanding of what we do want.
We soon realised that instead of living right on the beach, we would prefer to be a little higher maybe on a cliff overlooking the ocean. We do not enjoy big cities but do not want total isolation either. We would enjoy having a garden, maybe even chickens and Michael would be more than happy if we could manage without a vehicle. Somewhere there is the perfect abode for everyone, but where do you start?
We decided that we would start with visiting and then shortlisting countries that fill another list of criteria.
• A stable government and economy
• Affordable properties with foreseeable appreciation
• Sunny and warm climate
• Friendly locals
• Ease of obtaining residency or buying property
• Affordability, total living costs have to be less than $2000 per month
If a country ticks four of these six choices, we know we have potential. We then start thinking about our other criteria and do a little exploring with these in mind.
Our short list of possible countries and destinations is of course growing as we work towards our bucket list goal of visiting 100 countries. Our criteria are also morphing as yours may too, as you realise that you don’t like big cities or windswept headlands.
By the time we are ready to settle down—or should I say if—we will have a very good idea of what we are looking for and where to go. If you are wondering where to start here are a few tips and ideas.
Spend time with your partner discussing what each of you envisages as your perfect abode and your perfect lifestyle. Be creative, just as in a brainstorming session let the ideas flow freely and uncensored. Write them all down and prioritize them, hopefully you match in at least a few areas. If not well, you may end up being one of the many couples who end up with two homes in completely different locations.
You then have to decide what you want, what is important to you and how flexible do you want to be? A good starting point would be to ask a few questions, such as:
• Are you willing to learn a new language? If the answer is yes, you have a lot more choices, if no then consider English-speaking countries such as Belize or Ireland or places with large expat populations.
• What climate do you want?
• Are there medical concerns? If so, do your research and consider only those countries with good healthcare in place.
• How often will you fly home to visit? If you plan on regular visits, flight costs could be a major factor.
• Do you dream of beaches or mountains, tiny quaint villages or bustling cities?
• How much infrastructure do you need? Do you have to have internet, paved roads & malls?
Once you have your wish list, do your research and develop a short list of suitable countries. Remember that many countries have coastal and mountain areas, generating a wide range of climates. Panama is a prime example with mountain fresh Boquete versus hot and humid Panama City.
Now you have your short list do as we do, go and visit, see and explore as much as you can. If you have already drilled down to a specific area, plan a visit for as long as possible. While there.
• Rent an apartment or house
• Shop at the local markets
• Explore the neighbourhood on foot or bicycle
• Say hello to the neighbours
• Search out local expats and pick their brains
• Find out if there is volunteer or community activities that interest you
• Talk to realtors
• Pretend you live there.
Then ask yourself how you feel. Do you feel safe and comfortable, do you like the area, the food, and the people, have you made any friends? Is there anything that you do not like or something that is a major irritant to you?
We weigh all the pros and cons, but ultimately it is how we feel that weighs our decision as to whether this could be the place for our ideal abode.
We look forward to hearing about your perfect abode.