US expat retirees head for the simple life

Published:  18 Jul at 6 PM
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In spite of endless expatriate-aimed internet pages extolling global 21st century attractions, it seems many older USA citizens are emigrating in order to live the simpler life they remember from their childhoods.

Websites offering comparisons of expat destinations across the globe are perennially popular with would-be expats, whether choosing the right destination to boost their career paths, looking for a more relaxed lifestyle including better weather or selecting a country encouraging entrepreneurship. Interestingly, a new motivation is emerging in that older Americans are searching out a return to the simpler lifestyles of their childhood and are finding what they seek in unusual destinations.

The reasons for transporting themselves to an earlier time are many, with less government involvement in local matters high on the list. One Chicago doctor now practicing in a town overlooking Mexico’s Lake Chapala believes less official interference in local matters promotes more community cohesion and involvement by residents who’d prefer to fix things themselves rather than wait for government intervention.

As in the home country’s days of yore, expats band together to start charities, organise clean-ups, take care of street dogs and volunteer at local schools whilst living in areas which clearly need help. Local people are happy and grateful for the input, and the community grows closer as a result. Many older expats aren’t happy about the disconnection with family considered the norm in present-day America, and prefer to live in an environment where extended, multi-generational families are still the norm.

Respect for older people is another reason for emigrating to a country where it’s still practised, along with friendliness to strangers and cultural traditions. Elderly US expats living south of the border appreciate the ‘Buenos Dias’ from strangers when they take the local bus, and retirees enjoying an evening meal at local eateries value friendly greetings from other diners as it reminds them of the ‘olden days’ in their home country.

Of course, change is part of life, and times long past don’t reappear wherever you’re based, but many retirees who’ve voted with their feet and left the US believe things there have gone too far, especially as regards big city life. Going back in time to a fondly-remembered comfort zone, even if it’s in another land, is one answer many have been happy to accept.
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