Thursday, March 10, 2011

2011 Rambling Decisions

So I’ve decided to go public with the paralyzing fear (excuses) of the next step in my life. At 53, I’ve lived in the Midwest, primarily Chicago, IL all of my life. My kids are grown with lives of their own, so I decided (or am trying to anyway) to travel abroad or to move abroad, or to go or do something (with time and space to write). 

One of the biggest issues is finances. Over the years of raising kids, helping with grandchildren, losing jobs and making poor decisions (that again), my credit is terrible and no savings to speak of. OK, so yes, this is embarrassing to admit at my age, but so it is.

The next issue is that I am single—divorced and widowed. I’ve never really been afraid of doing or going by myself—until now that I must. 

One of the plans to address the financial issue was to get TEFL certified so I could teach English abroad and get paid to travel. In a round-about way, it also addressed the alone issue since most schools overseas have a community of English teachers from America. Still, the traveling and settling and beginning would all be done alone. Not to mention that once I get wherever I’m going, I will be the oldest within that community of teachers—alone again.

Then, there are restrictions, both personal and business, that need considering. Certain countries, such as Japan, won’t take me at my age and others would prefer younger. By preferring, meaning I won’t get the job in those countries either. Additionally, there is the global economic crisis which has caused some countries to pull inward. In Europe, the schools require an EU passport and most want an EU work visa before even offering the position. 

My personal restriction is on climate—I cannot (at this time in my life, it might change as I get even older) deal with heat and humidity. That leaves out most of the South American countries as well as some Asian. Moreover, some of the countries where things ‘might’ be acceptable all around are in turmoil and not safe (or as safe as a typical American would like).

OK, so getting a job teaching abroad is not going well. Switch rails. Retiring to another country is happening a lot lately and there are expat communities in most any country you can think of—Italy, Germany, Serbia, France, and South America. Once again, Europe is tough with visa’s, especially if you don’t have thousands or millions of dollars to contribute to their economy. Panama and Costa Rica are by far the best choices to retire. They will give you a pensionista visa as long as you have a monthly income of $1000. Cost of living in both of these areas is extremely low, and within the expat communities there is talk of rentals at $200 per month in the less touristy, rural towns. 

That became the new focus and I made some contacts in Costa Rica where I could stay while I looked for a home. Think of retiring in paradise. Sunshine and blue waters and a slow, slow pace with fairly decent health care. Alone. I would travel, meet these contacts, set up a home and make contacts to tutor English, and live alone. 

So there you have the traveling scenario. Let’s move on to the state side scenarios. 

I’ve been staying in my daughter’s basement for the last 8 months to save $$ for all these scenarios. Occasionally, I travel into Chicago for an event or two and stay on a friends' sofa, or a roommates' bed. Sometimes, I friend will be going out of town and I stay in their place. Next week, I will be house and dig sitting for two pit bulls. While 53 is not old, I can tell you that this nomad existence has been draining. When I was younger I thought it would be wonderful to retire to a camper and travel the states. I have a friend whose parents are doing it and they love it—the key word being ‘they’. I went ahead and applied for some volunteer positions with the Dept. of the Interior in national parks and have not received any replies (probably because of that credit history mentioned before). Additionally, I’m really not feeling the sleeping in a camper bed—not after sleeping in a different bed almost every night for 8 months. 

The last scenario and the picture I’ve had of retirement for the past 20 years, is to buy a truck, head to western NC or eastern TN, find a small place on a lake or river by the mountains and just relax. Plant a garden, have a cow and a few chickens, do some hunting and fishing, and write. Bring the grandchildren for summers and maybe get a horse or two along the way. This feels like the best fit. This doesn’t excite me but the idea makes me happy and contented. The only thing wrong with this scenario (in my mind) is that it isn’t big and bold enough. There’s no “Look at what I did,” no, “Wow, I envy you,” no “That’s my mom (or my Nana).” 

So there you have it, whatever it is. There is still no decision. I go round and round and hope that sooner or later a decision will slap my in the face.

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