Sunday, April 5, 2015

8 Straight Answers About Living Overseas




8 Straight Answers About Living Overseas
By Dan Prescher

Expat life, how do I love thee?
Let me count the ways that one move to the right place changed my life...
No snow. Ever. I think back on all the times my wife and I sat huddled in our house in the U.S. listening to the sub-zero winds rattling the windowpanes and the furnace burning money just to keep us from turning into human popsicles. We'd look at each other and say, "You know, there are places on the earth where this kind of weather doesn't exist." Now we live in one. It's called Ecuador.
No heatstroke. Ever. We regret all that time spent parked in front of the air conditioner on a brutal midsummer day back home. Again, a little research found our new home in the mountains of Ecuador where air conditioning is never needed.
No huge utility bills. Ever. Put those two things above together, and it means our utilities bills include only electricity for the appliances and gas for hot water. Grand total = about $30 a month, or about a tenth of our average monthly utility bill back home.
No monumental property taxes. We own our little condo here in the mountains, and our annual property tax is little more than $50. That's right—not our monthly or quarterly property tax, our annual property tax.
No car. Public transportation where we now live is so plentiful and affordable that we've completely eliminated the line item for car maintenance, gas, and insurance from our budget.
No preservatives. Well, that's not entirely true; we still have access to all the preserved and processed food and drink we care to consume at our local supermarket. But we also have access, just a short walk from our home, to a daily farmers' market stocked with heaps of fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats that were in the ground, on the vine, or mooing and clucking just a day or two ago. The growing season where we now live is 365 days long each year, so there's always fresh produce at the mercado. That means it's up to us how much processed and preserved food we eat. It would be easy to eat none at all...but I like a bag of chips and a ham and cheese sandwich every now and then.
No hurry. Something happens to your attitude toward stress and deadlines when you live in a country where the weather is constantly fine and fresh food is constantly available and within walking distance. You slow down. Things get done when they need to get done, not when you can manage to squeeze them into your schedule or commute. If something doesn't get done today, the world isn't going to melt. It will get done tomorrow. In the meantime...have a fresh, sweet banana or papaya.
No political craziness. Well, that's not entirely true, either. My wife and I are still proud U.S. citizens and legally vote in national elections, so we keep up with things back home, and we know what's going on. But now we watch the U.S. news and election cycles from about 3,000 miles away, which can lend some much needed perspective.
Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of local political craziness where we live, too. Our adopted country is not immune to the showmanship and strangeness of politics. But we're guests here, and locals don't expect or need us to tell them how to do politics. Which again can lend a lot of perspective and be pretty relaxing.
Great weather, fresh food, cheap bills, lots of time, and 3,000 miles between me and U.S. politicians.
So many reasons to love being an expat.