Every month I receive in the mail a lovely little package with a handpainted cover of an exotic place I might like to live. Inside this package are stories of people just like me, boomers who, for one reason or another, have decided to take a walk on the wild side and fully explore the pros and cons of living outside the United States. That package is International Living magazine, and in this episode of Dance I talk with Dan Prescher, a Senior Editor and writer with the magazine, and more than that, a person who walks the talk.
Seventeen years ago Dan and his wife Susan Haskins left snowy Omaha, Nebraska and have lived south of the border ever since, enjoying the sunshine, great food, low prices, and comraderarie of other North American ex-patriots, or expats as they are called. In this show you’ll get an inside peak into Dan and Susan’s life, their tips on how to live on $2500 a month or less, how ex-pat living affects a marriage, advice on staying connected with grandkids, the good, bad and the ugly of living in a developing country, and so much more. You’ll even get a short lesson on the proper technique for eating fried grasshoppers with your mezcal — something I learned a year ago when I visited Dan’s present home city of Merida, Mexico, where I caught him on a Saturday morning.
So please join me as I take a look on the other side of the mountain with Dan Prescher of International Living magazine.
What you will learn from Dan Prescher:
- The importance of being part of a community, as cited in Susan Pinker’s book, “The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier”
- How you instantly become part of an ex-pat village when you travel overseas
- My heavenly experience with deep fried plantains and a floppy hat at the Sunday Mercada in Merida, Mexico
- The importance of profiling yourself ruthlessly
- How ex-pat living affects a marriage, and how to avoid complications
- What single people can expect when they move overseas
- About International Living’s Conference on April 12th – 14th, 2018 in Atlanta
- How and why costs are less
- About Dan and Susan’s book “The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget: How to Live Well on $25,000 a Year”
- How unhappiness comes from expectations that the entire world is just like the US (only cheaper). Not true!
- About how to ensure your personal security
- Options for a person who has not saved enough
- International Living’s Top Retirement Destinations for 2018
- The best way to chow down on a plate of chapulines (fried grasshoppers)
- How to get started
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Pictures of my 2017 visit to Merida, Mexico
Questions I prepared for Dan Prescher:
Tell us a little bit about IL and the products and services it offers.
How did you come to be involved with IL? What’s your story?
Where are some of the places you have personally lived, and where do you live now?
Why do you think its valuable for boomers to pay attention to IL’s message?
Your January issue includes the best retirement destinations for 2018. Tell us a bit about that report, the 12 metrics used (Buying & Investing; Renting; Fitting In; etc) and your thoughts on the best and worst locations.
One of the huge advantages of retiring outside the US is cost of living. Tantalize us with some examples of how well people live O-US, and at what cost.
One of my personal concerns about living outside the US is the cost of trips “back home” to visit grandkids, friends and family, which could eat up cost advantages. How should we think about that as we evaluate different places?
Community is such an important part of happiness. I’m presently reading Susan Pinker’s book “The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Makes Us Healthier, Happier and Smarter.” Her studies have found that:
— The lowest rate of dementia appears in people with extensive face-to-face social networks
— Those with a tight circle of friends who gather regularly are likely to live an average of 15 years longer than loners
Your “Best of” report includes the metric of “fitting in,” which goes right to heart of what Ms. Pinker is saying. How do you arrive at that metric? What’s behind it?
From my experience, other countries and cultures are much better at maintaining the “Village Effect” than we North Americans, and as much as we may ling to be part of one, there are barriers to entry. I don’t speak the language. I don’t know the culture. I look different.
What do you find are the best practices for those Americans who parachute into a foreign country and want to fit in?
Nowadays, technology such as two-way video calls are an important, even essential, part of staying connected. But virtual community services require high speed internet, which is not available everywhere. What plans does IL have, if any, to include a “tech connectivity” index in future site evaluations? How do you advise we presently assess it?
Let’s use me as an example. 61 years old. Some money saved but probably not enough. Plan to never retire and have my last check bounce. Willing to consider living outside the US, but have the usual concerns about convincing the spouse, healthcare, staying connected, how political turmoil here and there might affect life, and so forth. What steps should I be taking now to evaluate the pros and cons? Outline a plan for me.
Many of your articles feature rural locations, especially beachfront. But I’m a city guy. I like the hustle and bustle of urban locals. How do you, as an editor, decide the balance between the two?
Tell us a bit about the Atlanta conference coming up in April. When is it, and what can we expect to learn there?