Three (Unassailable) Reasons You Should Not Retire and Move to Another Country

I believe I speak from a position of “been there, done that,” when I advise you to stay where you are, as you are, and continue to live a life in which your hard work is rewarded with a bi-weekly check automatically deposited into your joint checking account.  No recognition of your toil can be more satisfying than that electronic transfer of funds and no better barometer of your value as a human being can be found than your value as a good employee to your bosses.

The reasons for continuing to work at your job and avoid the temptation of chucking it all and trying to find a comfortable existence in a foreign country are numerous, but here are my top three.

You LOVE your job.

Come on, just admit it: you love your job.  It has become your social network, your basis of self-worth, your very identity.  What would you ever do with your time were it not for the challenge of the to-do list you embrace every morning?  Oh, sure, you could take the huge step of substituting your daily work efforts with those of learning a new language, making new friends and adapting to a new culture, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  It’s very hard work and, since you’ve been at your job for decades and can almost do it in your sleep, why take on a new intellectual challenge and push yourself?  Just sit back in the comfort of your life and, whatever you do, don’t take those kinds of risks.  Pay no attention to Eleanor Roosevelt who unwisely said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”  I find myself faced each day with a new challenge–speaking a language that I am not fluent in, dealing with a culture with which I am unfamiliar and eating foods that are, well, different– and it is uncomfortable.  I’m no longer a “vice president” or an “executive.”  I just have to be me and that’s scary.  I yearn for the days when I could simply show up at my office, take up my position behind my desk, look and feel important and read and respond to emails all day.  Now THAT’S living.

Would YOU eat this?

Would YOU eat this?

You can’t afford it.

Be honest.  You can’t afford to retire.  No matter how much money you’ve saved, regardless of the size of your 401(k) plan, and despite your stock portfolio that’s growing by the day, you’re silly if you think that you’ll ever have enough money to hang up the ol’ spurs (assuming you’re a cowboy) and ease into a life of leisure.  You have been raised to acknowledge that you must work until you have not only enough money to support yourself post-career, but you must then die quickly enough to ensure that your children can live the life that you might have had you been less responsible.  You should ignore the fact that there are many places in the world, absolutely amazing places, where the cost of living is lower and the quality of life is higher than where you are now.  And the mere thought of, perhaps, changing your life in ways that would allow you to live a less-costly life, is ridiculous.  Why should you sit on a beach at sunset, spread a blanket on the sand and dig into the bread and cheeses that you packed, washing them down with a crisp white wine, when you can go to an expensive restaurant and let someone else do the work, right?  And who would have the nerve to suggest that you resign your health club membership and, instead, get your exercise by riding your bicycle to the local market?  Trust me, it’s better that you work for a few more years and a few more years after that and, if you’re lucky, you will one day have almost enough money to begin to live before you die.  I made the mistake of retiring when I COULD, not when I should have. Another “couple a mill” in the bank and I could fly to Croatia instead of taking the ferry and I could still be drinking wine from expensive bottles instead of out of plastic jugs.  Forget that we can go to Croatia or Greece by ferry or go just about any place in Europe by car or, after just a half-hour flight, be in Malta.  And nevermind that the wine we buy by the jug comes straight from the producers and is the same stuff for which people in the US pay $20 a bottle.  I just wish that I had stayed at that desk and made more money so that I could spend it on those $20 bottles instead of having to buy the same wine for the $1.50 I pay now.

Dubrovnik, Croatia...

Dubrovnik, Croatia…

Greece...

Greece…

Malta...Ho hum.

Malta…. We just can’t afford to do much in our retirement.

You’ll be bored.

If your retirement is anything like mine, you’ll be spending it sitting on your butt, just thinking, sometimes with your mouth hanging open.  Your mind will become undisciplined and wandering and you will find yourself constantly trying to figure out what to do with your newly-found leisure time.  For Jessica and me, our typical day begins late in the morning since we stay in bed until we feel like getting up.  Our first hour is spent drinking a cappuccino under the span of a 200-year old olive tree that spreads just outside our front door.  Boring.  After a cappuccino, there’s really nothing to do but to have another one, so we do.  Sounds exciting, huh?  After that, just to kill some time, we might take a drive to one of the medieval hilltop towns scattered about the Pugliese countryside and wander aimlessly around its historical center, looking at buildings that were old 500 years ago.  Yawn.  Or, if we’re desperate, we might go down to the sea–Adriatic or Ionian doesn’t matter, they’re all the same, right?–and have lunch.  Okay, the fish is pretty good because, you know, we actually watch them bring it in off the boats but it still makes for a pretty dull day.  Afternoons are the worst, though, with all of the shops closed and everyone either napping after a big lunch or lying on a beach.  Oh, to still be sitting at my desk!  Sometimes things get so incredibly, mind-numbingly dull, we get in the car and just go.  A few weeks ago, we drove to the Amalfi Coast (At least it was a change.) and next week, just to avoid the excruciating boredom, we’ll be going to Rome for a few days.  In the evenings, there is just nothing at all to do so we just go into town, sit in a little piazza and eat local foods or maybe a pizza and drink local red wine.  Anything to make life interesting.

I just spend most of my time lying around.

I just spend most of my time lying around.

Sometimes, out of sheer boredom, we'll drive over to the Amalfi Coast.

Sometimes, out of sheer boredom, we’ll drive over to the Amalfi Coast.

Occasionally, I'll put on a tie just for ol' time's sake.

Occasionally, I’ll put on a tie just for ol’ time’s sake.

 

So, please, do yourself a favor and keep your day job.  The life of a retiree just isn’t for you.  Or, is it?

18 Comments

Tracey K

22 April , 2015 at 9:25 pm

Dear Scott, I am really enjoying reading your blog. Planning to land in Puglia on May 6 for a house-hunting excursion. Exploring early retirement in Italy. You guys are our role models. I will be staying near Ostuni at Masseria Il Frantoio. If you are in town, would it be possible to meet you? I would be happy to buy you dinner in exchange for your advice about making the move. I currently live in Los Angeles, but am originally from PA as well. I so look forward to this trip. Best regards, Tracey

Scott

23 April , 2015 at 10:10 am

Hi, Tracey. How exciting for you! We will be in town and would love to meet you. We just recently visited Masseria Il Frantoio and it is a lovely place. Just let us know what your schedule looks like and we can arrange to get together for dinner. Looking forward to meeting you. Best regards, Scott

underthecaribbeansun

28 July , 2014 at 4:10 am

I love this. Though most wouldn't see me as "retirement" age, I have the pleasure of running my business from anywhere in the world. I made this choice because I love visiting other countries and soaking up the culture. Ill be landing in Sicily in Sept and Puglia in October and I am thrilled to have my feet back on Italian soil. You ever been somewhere that just felt like home? Thats Italy to me… now to figure out how I can do this long term legally! :)

Dario

14 July , 2014 at 9:40 pm

Very humorous and probably wise Scott.... Quite a few of my American friends might find it inspirational. Wish you to enjoy my country to the fullest.

Scott

15 July , 2014 at 1:02 pm

Thank you, Dario. It is nice to think that someone might want to try life here as a result of reading things like this. Grazie. Scott

Chuck Coup

14 July , 2014 at 2:23 pm

Retirement sounds nice! You have inspired me Scott. After a grueling 5 years in the American workforce I am ready to hang it up.

Scott

14 July , 2014 at 2:37 pm

However have you survived all this time, Chuck? Slaving away, day-after-day, year-after-year, has got to take its toll. But just think: you only have another 40 or so years to go. Hugs & kisses from both of us to your family. Scott

Chloé

24 September , 2014 at 9:36 am

Hi Scott, looking for a little advise. I am a senior Canadian woman who has been living in France for 2 years. Is it possible to live ..renting!..I'm southern Italy on 720,00 Euros/Mon Thx Chloe

Scott

8 October , 2014 at 10:53 am

Hello, Chloe. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, but Jessica and I have been traveling and internet access was sporadic. In response to your question, I suppose that it may be possible to live on €720 per month and I am certain that some people here do just that; however, if that number includes rent, fuel for a car, food and utilities, it won't be easy and you would have to find a relatively small place to live. My advice would be for you to go online and see if you can find an apartment that would fit into your budget and see if that is achievable. I hope this helps. All the best, Scott

Retirement Investing Today

12 July , 2014 at 2:57 pm

Fantastic post. I've already dealt with The You Love Your Job and You'll Be Bored portions. My family are therefore also working towards retiring in Puglia (or Malta) as fast as possible. Having made the decision the hard work is now determining your second point - When Can We Afford It - to prevent us from ever going back. You talk about the "cost of living is lower and the quality of life is higher than where you are now." For me the challenge is ascertaining what that cost of living is for a simple frugal lifestyle in the heel of Italy so that we can accrue enough but not too much wealth. I've read every post you've written but never see cost of living really mentioned. Do you have a view on the annual cost of living (after home purchase) for a couple living simply and intentionally?

Scott

14 July , 2014 at 2:06 pm

Well, it looks like you have the tough ones licked although the "when do I know that I have enough to retire" is a very subjective matter. I can try to help you out by giving you an idea of what our normal living expenses are and let you decide for yourself when you have "enough." Here is what our monthly expenses look like. Electricity €1800 Gas (heating) 1600 Water 360 Real Estate Tax 300 Auto Ins. 1800 Sky TV 500 Food 9000 Car Fuel 2400 Health Ins. 1500 Property Ins. 1100 Phone 300 Internet 700 Rubbish Tax 300 Car Tax 300 A couple of notes: the money for car fuel is enough to allow us to drive as much as we want and we drive a lot. The food budget includes sufficient funds for us to eat out frequently. And, depending on your citizenship, you may qualify for Italy's national health service and obviate the need for health insurance. I hope this helps a bit but let me know if I can be of further assistance to you. Scott

Retirement Investing Today

14 July , 2014 at 9:49 pm

Many thanks for the detailed reply. It is very much appreciated. That sums to about EUR22,000 per annum. It looks like I wasn't to far out with my own estimate of EUR24,000. I missed the Rubbish Tax. I'd also been allowing for some replacement costs of things like car, clothes, kitchens etc as they wear out plus a little travel outside of Italy. I'm also continually amazed at how expensive car insurance and internet is in Italy. As an example here in the UK I pay about EUR12 per month for unlimited internet. My better half and I are lucky to be an EU citizens. I believe that the current legal approach is that I need to be an Italian resident for 5 years during which my family needs private insurance. After that we obtain the rights of Italian citizens meaning we get free health care. Some research suggests this can vary depending on which area you live and which bureaucrat you come into contact with. Electricity is nearly 10% of your budget. Puglia seem to encourage solar panels and it certainly has the right weather for them. Have you ever considered adding these and maybe even getting a rebate from the power company? I understand they are expected to last 20 years or so these days.

Scott

15 July , 2014 at 1:01 pm

My pleasure. I'm not sure about the EU citizenship issue relative to healthcare. That would be one to check out although my understanding was that EU citizens do qualify for the national health system. As for solar panels, we actually do have them under an arrangement that was government supported. In exchange for allowing the national utility company (ENEL) to install the panels on our roof, we receive a 70% discount on what would otherwise be our electricity bill. Unfortunately, this program seems to no longer exist. Still, it is a sign that solar production of electricity is feasible and you may well want to consider it.

April Keech

11 July , 2014 at 11:03 pm

Dear Scott, you retiree junkie! No I am thrilled for you, Scott, and if you are near London anytime in the autumn, we should have dinner together. Sorry to hear life is so hard! Still enjoying my work though but know those times when I could use a 'putter' around day - Off to Uganda and Mozambique this summer for some connections and rest! Fond memories! April Keech

Scott

12 July , 2014 at 12:24 pm

Hi, April. It's so good to hear from you. A trip to London is most certainly on our list since I have never been there and, when I do, we will definitely get together. We are, indeed, enjoying life and the great weather here. I hope you have a great trip to Uganda and Mozambique. Be well and we'll stay in touch. All the best, Scott

Thomas

11 July , 2014 at 9:47 pm

You sooooooo get it, Scott. You reaffirm my own retirement at 62 last year to attain the healthy style of living I know is possible in Puglia. I aim for a rich, but modest, lifestyle. With the house on the market in the US it shouldn't take much longer for me to get there. My only disclaimer is that I truly believe that one has had to consciously cultivate a pleasure in the small things that so often go underappreciated in life. Sometimes this takes the form of nurturing your inner child over the years so that one day all the professional, corporate BS can be cleansed quickly from your system. This predisposition makes possible what you are obviously relishing at this meaningful part of your life. You have earned La Chiave della Vita. Enjoy!

Dotti

10 July , 2014 at 9:59 pm

Scott: This is yet another good lesson for you...what a master!

Scott

11 July , 2014 at 11:53 am

Thanks so much, Dotti. It's followers of the blog like you that keep me going.

Leave a Comment

Please be polite. We appreciate that.
Your email address will not be published and required fields are marked.

I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or email me at scottjb8907@yahoo.com.