Have you dreamed of retiring abroad? A new life or retirement in warmer or more relaxed country can be a dream many of us try to make a reality, but how easy is it for midlife women to pack up life at home and create a new life elsewhere. I talked to a number of women in their 50s and 60s who have done just that and taken up the expat lifestyle in the South of France. These are some of the key points resulting from my conversations.
- Think ahead of time about how much you will miss your family. A number of the women I spoke to said they had underestimated the impact of not being close once the first grandchild was born.
- Financial- can you afford to live comfortably –especially with the volatility of exchange rates. Be realistic about the cost of daily living in your new location. If you intend to supplement your income, do you have the required skills (including language) to find employment locally or set up your own business.
- Language- start learning the language before your move- otherwise you will be limiting your social activities to include only other ex-pats. On arrival you may find many local language schools- it’s always good to find yourself a homework ‘buddy’ to make sure you practice your new language between classes. Where possible arrange to meet your local neighbours- force yourself to practice your new language. I met one lady at a French class in Cannes who was 100, so it’s never too late!
- Think carefully about how you will spend your day – I have met a number of women who have actually said they want to return to the UK as they get too bored !
- If you enjoy theatre, cinema, concerts, will you miss this aspect of your life if there is little of this type of activity to enjoy in your new location.
- Visitors! It’s amazing how many friends may wish to visit once you live abroad- many have said that they had underestimated the expense involved in having frequent houseguests. The extra meals, bottles of wine and meal out all add up!
- Would you still want to live abroad should you or your partner become ill? Again this was a reason some women gave for wanting to return home.
- Investigate local groups/events aimed at bringing expats together before you move, go along as a visitor and talk to others who have already made the transition..
- Rent before you buy- just to make sure the life you dreamed of is as you thought before selling up and cutting too many ties.
- Will you be confident enough to drive , especially if this involves driving on the ‘other’ side of the road. How limiting will this be for you if the answer is no.
Many women of the women I spoke to in their 50s and 60s have happily made the transition and now feel that France is their home. A few are still unsettled and are planning their return to the UK.