Most who talk about leaving America for another country are just talking. It is a personal fantasy to abandon this place for some tropical island or new life of adventure. Some want the cultural experiences associated with living in Europe. Some want open spaces. Some just want to get away and start fresh. But these thoughts remain for most dreams only. However, there are those who want to actually make the move. They face many problems. Changing countries is not as easy as it first appears. Dreams can turn into nightmares.
I have had the opportunity to live outside the US for much of my adult life. I enjoy different cultures and am sort of a vagabond at heart. "A rolling stone gathers no moss. Who wants moss?" But I am not like everyone else and neither are you. The following are a few suggestions for those seriously thinking about making "The Big Move." They are not in any special order because one item will be important to you but not necessarily to others. The first step in this process is like the first step in philosophy, "Know thyself."
1. Determine exactly where it is you believe you want to go. Once you have done that read as much as you can about the history and social life in that country. Do you still like it? Novels are often a good way to obtain a feeling of the "spirit" of a place. I currently live in Alexandria, Egypt. For such a destination, I recommend novels by authors like Mahfouz (Midiq Alley)and Aswany (The Yacobian Building). Each country has its own authors.
2. Do you speak the language? How difficult is it for you to learn languages? If you cannot speak the local language, you will find yourself in many situations where you are, in effect, deaf and mute. No, English is not spoken everywhere. If you really want to becaome part of your new country, it is necessary to at least start learning the language - even if you are going to live in an "American community" (ugh!).
3. Read the laws on immigration to the country you are considering. Some Central American countries have very good programs for retired people if you meet the requirements. However, in most cases, you will be wrong if you think you are going to some small country, open a bar or other small business, and lead a quiet life or that "I can live like a king on $300 a month."
4. Ask yourself many personal questions. How important are "my things"? What level of comfort do I require? How about family and friends? How about finances? Do I adjust to different cultures? People do not care too much to hear, "Well, in America we do it this way."
5. Visit the country in question, and I do not mean take a two week vacation. Travel there for at least three months. Learn how it is to live like a native - not like a tourist. How do you shop? How do you pay the electric bill? Drive a car? Banking? Illness?, etc. You should experience all facets of daily life possible.
6. If you make the move, be prepared for one thing. After about three months (again), you will probably get over the newness of your situation and ask yourself, "What have I done to myself?" Do not panic. After a few more weeks, life will start to feel normal, friends will feel like friends, and not every activity (done routinely in the US) will require special thought. It takes time, but you will learn te ropes.