Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Life of an Expat

I happened upon this article tonight as I was slogging through what appears to be a slow news day (dow under 8000? Yawn.) It is about a city in the middle of Mexico (San Miguel de Allende) that has a healthy American retiree/expat community. Nestled in the mountains at about 6800 feet, this city apparently has all the modern conveniences and temperatures in the 60's and 70's year round.

As I read the story, I wrestled with my own longstanding desire to live--for some period of time--as an American expat. I've never really thought hard about where it would be--but I've always thought it would be warm and near the ocean. One of the biggest advantages to putting in 21 with the USN is that I have the freedom to walk away from everything--and I mean everything--and go rent an apartment on some boulevard, rue, plaza, piazze, or strasse--if the spirit moved me.

I have this very romantic sense of what life would be like in such a place. I'd live simply, spend most of my time writing and drinking espresso, and smoke a lot of cigars. I'd eat pretty well, as I would likely want to pick a place where my greenbacks went pretty far. I'd probably not own a car, but I would own a bike. I'd do my very best to learn the local language, and I'd take on a very Hemmingway-esque approach to life. I'd probably start drinking again, and I'd do it well.

Now of course, I could also live the expat life with the Kitten, though it would be a very different life (say goodbye to the cigars, for instance). It would be a good less Bohemian, but also a good less lonely. I'd probably not write as much, but I would have more fun.

Maybe that's where I'm headed someday---work a few years, get the Kitten's kittens off to school, then head to Malaysia or Mozambique and try our luck.


tom de plume said...

Just showing dad how to respond to one of your posts.

Anonymous said...

After seeing the havoc that Yankee transplants have wreaked upon the Old Dominion, I feel sorry for the natives of San Miguel.

Bill said...

The pioneer spirit is what is most required to live the expat life. Shrug off US goods and services and live life simpler. I don't so it full time but have nested in a foreign country with 166 acres to play on overlooking the pacific. Should you become serious I will invite you and "kitten" to a simpler and yes bohemian lifestyle.

Smoothfur said...

Having lived and worked in Thailand,Laos,Vietnam, Iran and Saudi Arabia as an expat for over 15 years I strongly recommend that you take a very close look at the countries on the South China Sea and also for a real colonial feel go to some of the smaller towns in Vietnam such as Nha Trang or the land locked Luang Prabang, Laos.

The people are friendly and service oriented and the cost of living is still relatively inexpensive.

The main thing to keep in mind is that just because the do things differently does not make them wrong, just different. Respect for the people(s) and their culture pays huge dividends.

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