There is no doubt that living overseas away from the busy lifestyles of the Northern European countries is a good thing. It is beneficial for your health. It allows you to live a more relaxed lifestyle and it provides locally produced food and organic wine that may allow you to live longer. Add to this a beneficial climate change and you have a remedy for an extended and healthier life.
However it is not all sunshine and flowers.
One of the common misconceptions of retiring abroad is that the lifestyle is cheaper. Well it can be, it appears to be when you move your UK income to a Mediterranean haven and cut your shopping bills in half and find your local taxes are very much cheaper. Fuel for the car is 30% less and virtually any local service is charged in equivalent euros instead of pounds, an immediate 35% saving.
So you say why can’t I save money then by living like that.
Well you can but many don’t!
Once you settle in and find your feet in the local community it can all start to happen. Whilst in the UK for example good eating was quite expensive for those on a limited budget, now it’s cheap!
A menu of the day favoured by retiring folk will cost no more than 10 Euros all in, anywhere in the Mediterranean.
A coffee or two is a very pleasant way of meeting new friends in the local Bar.
A drink at lunchtime? Well maybe not when you were working back home but here? It’s easy. You are out shopping and you meet the folks you met yesterday for the first time, shall we have a quick one? It’s hard to refuse when a beer costs a Euro and a good bottle of wine is 5 Euros in a Bar!
So what happens is this. You go out to eat more often than you would at home and you spend the same per week on it as you did when in England.
You consume more alcohol than usual but it’s cheap but the budget remains the same. The shopping is cheaper, but because it is, then there is more elasticity for the things you enjoy, smoked salmon, foie gras, tonic and gin, giant prawns, great single estate red wines and cheese to dream about.
The inevitable soon happens, the waistband expands and the blood pressure goes up. Wait a minute I thought I was here for a cheaper and healthier life?
Well it’s called living the life. As usual there is a balance to be struck here and to the reader it’s fairly obvious what that has to be. To the retired person already there and stuck in the new routine which of course is highly enjoyable, it can be hard to change.
So take my advice because I have been there, in fact I am still there and thoroughly enjoying it. When I return to the UK on one of those too frequent visits, I am constantly reminded of why I enjoy this Mediterranean lifestyle so much. A beer out with my son in London leaves little change out of 10 pounds. A dinner out for two is always more than fifty pounds. I travel up the A14 leaving a suitable and safe gap from the car in front when as always a local native cuts me up from the inside lane with an illegal manoeuvre. You can see him or her chaffing at the bit in their rush to get home as soon as possible. Life in the fast lane where there is no time to pause for breath. When I turn off for my destination after another 8 miles of similar driving antics I arrive at my destination and park my car in the car park just behind the same young man who was the first to cut me up. He has just parked himself!
Everyone is in a hurry and everyone wants everything delivered today. Too many people on the roads, too many people rushing about in too much of a hurry. Do they really ever get where they really want to be? They say they suffer from stress but they really do not know what stress is really about.
The Manyana lifestyle whether in the Caribbean or the Med has its detractors but once you become used to it there is more time to live and more time to do. The more important deal in life is having a conversation with someone without looking at your watch. Enjoying an inexpensive lunch without the need to rush off somewhere.
Driving home in a leisurely way at your own speed on roads which are never full. Not rushing home to watch your favourite soap. In fact hardly watching TV at all.
The lorry driver on the Northern European road who insists on pulling out on a dual carriageway to overtake a colleague who is travelling at one mile an hour less and takes an age to do so, is not doing so in a relaxed manner. He is stressed out and believes he will cut his journey time by this continuous action. Not so, it has been proven that two lorries leaving one destination at the same time, for an average journey of 4-5 hours, will only arrive minutes apart when one driver drives in a relaxed manner compared to the frenetic style of overtaking and rushing to move on displayed by his colleague. What is that all about? If we all drove in a more relaxed way there would be less accidents and less heart attacks.
OK enough of the comparisons, they are all there for all to see but exactly how do you transpose to this new way of life successfully?
First of all set a weekly budget. Not for lunching out but just for living without paying your bills. Simply your shopping and supermarket bill and enjoying your new found lifestyle. You set the budget and you stick to it and then you find the best ways to spend that money according to your new priorities. Your bills will take care of themselves as they are much cheaper than the ones you left behind! Also set a budget for the fuel you wish to buy and go to the fuel stop every Monday and put that amount in and that is that.
Next find a way to exercise. This might be swimming or taking the dog for a walk or whatever you wish but at least try and do this every day and if you miss the odd day due to bad weather or receiving visitors so be it.
Try not to succumb to the afternoon nap scenario on a regular basis. Occasionally once a week if life catches you up there is nothing wrong with an afternoon snooze but if you deliberately seek it out on a regular basis you will find you will be soon sleeping your life away.
Change your diet and change when you eat. Eat well at lunchtime, this might be your main meal of the day and in the evening you can eat fish or nuts or fruit and cheese and of course tomatoes and salads. Try and eat salads that you actually enjoy there are so many additions such as fish, cheese and fruit all locally produced. Buy your veg at the local markets and stand and observe the locals when in the butcher’s shop. you will be amazed how you can vary and change your diet for the benefit of greater overall health. Eat your sweet stuff in the middle of the day and not in the evening. Start taking yogurt for Breakfast on a regular basis with fruit or even an occasional cooked breakfast. Drink lots of unrefridgerated still water slowly. First thing in the morning at least 2 pints and another pint before bedtime! All of a sudden you don’t suffer from that heartburn problem you always had.
Here there is time for everything and if not today then tomorrow is fine, nothing will change in the meantime, the World continues at its own pace, your blood pressure is healthy, you are eating well drinking moderately and exercising. You feel relaxed and you take excellent decisions and suddenly, you have time for everything and you can do all this on a lesser budget. The problem is you are going to live longer. Will the money run out?
Well there has to be something to worry about!