Future Plans & Some Goals

Brett and I have made a decision about where we are going to go after we leave Tennessee, but he has asked me not to write our decision until a year or so out from our departure, and I’ve agreed to his request. In his opinion, there’s still too much we need to accomplish before we start announcing where we’re going. But, there are things I can bring up now, about our goals and plans for the future, and some of the things we have already been working on.

The biggest and most important factor we have to consider when it comes to where to live post-Tennessee was that it has to be a location where I can continue to afford to to stay if Brett predeceases me. The majority of our retirement income comes from his military retirement, and while I would be able to keep the benefits (healthcare, travel, commissary and exchange privileges, etc.) if he dies before me the military income will cease. I would continue to receive the pension he earned post military, and his larger social security benefit (but give up my social security). The total loss of income would mean I would receive a considerably smaller amount than we currently do. There are places we could afford now, like Honolulu, but if something happened to Brett I could not afford to remain there.

There are several locations in the U.S. where I could live on the smaller income . . . but I don’t want to live in those places, and none of them are close to where our children live. The kids have all said they would help to support me no matter where I lived, but I don’t want to have to depend on them if something happens to Brett nor put that burden on them.

That leaves remaining affordable options for us that we would consider outside of the U.S. We have long dreamed of living overseas, and see this next move as our last chance to make those dreams come true.

So, refining an earlier list, we we came up with a dozen criteria to use for evaluating different locations, including both needs and wants. We realized affordability could not be the only guide, and we set out to find a location that would be both affordable and somewhere we truly would love to live. We came up with this list:

  • somewhere we’ve been before and could see ourselves living
  • cost of living that I could afford if Brett predeceases me
  • ease in acquiring long-term resident visas
  • proximity to our children
  • good healthcare and dental care
  • a climate we could live in
  • good public transportation/no car required
  • low taxes
  • the ease of learning the language
  • safety
  • proximity to U.S. military facilities
  • travel opportunities in, from, and around the area

Although we thought we had settled on Mazatlán, we felt we should expand our horizons and ended up evaluating other places in Mexico as well as locations in Europe and Asia in order to make the best decision for us. We also decided we should have a back-up location, just in case our first choice might become unviable for some reason.

Both of us are satisfied and happy with our overall decision and are now working on making it a reality.

In order to make a future move as easy as possible, we also developed a short list of goals we want to accomplish before leaving Tennessee:

  • Save a base amount of $30K+ to cover relocation costs. This is the amount we believe will be necessary to cover visa costs, transportation, rental fees, furniture and other household goods that may be needed to set up housekeeping, as well as other incidental costs that will arise from a move to another country. We also want to have a nice cushion in place for things we can’t think of or don’t know about now. A portion of this will come from the sale of our car.
  • Learn as much of the language as we can before we go. We don’t expect to be fluent or really even conversational, but we want to have a solid foundation of basics to start out. We will continue taking language classes after we arrive.
  • Stay active, and keep ourselves in good shape and good health.
  • Think very carefully about what to take along with us, what to store, and what to get rid of. We have to get this move right because there will be no do-overs. We plan to give some our furniture to one of our daughters, and leave some other pieces and household goods in storage in Tennessee because we don’t want to start from scratch again if we eventually have to return to the U.S.

So . . . that’s where we are now, and what we’re working on. Our budget is currently set up to get us where we want to be without having to feel deprived or resentful while we’re in Tennessee. It is still going to require vigilance, determination, and some sacrifice to reach our goals, but as in the past we know we can do this if we set our mind to it, to make our future dreams and plans a reality.


26 thoughts on “Future Plans & Some Goals

  1. I’m sure you’ve thought about it, but I’ll mention it anyway. Make sure you are living in a place where you develop friendships. If, God forbid, something happened to Brett, having even a few good friends will be key. You and he are two peas in a pod, which is terrific and quite the accomplishment after so many years. But having a community around you would make both your current and future lives that much richer.


    1. The places we’re considering do have an expat community with groups we can join, but I agree being able to make friends will be important wherever we end up going. Some locations have more retirees than others, so that’s something we’re taking into consideration as well.


  2. I was having a similar conversation with a friend last week when we went out to dinner. She is planning to move to the Philippines (she is from there) and was telling me I should consider it because it’s cheaper to live there, English is widely spoken, and it is a warm climate, which is what I prefer. I might visit her and her husband (who is also from there) when they retire to check it out, although I doubt I would move there. In your case, it would be much closer to your son and they have a similar climate to Hawaii. Have you ever considered it? My friend comes from a family of people who live long lives so she is preparing in case her husband predeceases her. Her mom is 94 and her grandmother lived to 105.

    One thought I just had is I guess I don’t understand why you wouldn’t go to Honolulu after Tennessee. I know you said you’re concerned you wouldn’t be able to stay there if Brett predeceases you, but that could be many years off and it has many of the things you have on your list. If Brett does predecease you while you’re there, you could leave at that point and maybe move closer to your kids. I’m assuming even if you are living in another country and Brett predeceases you, you would come back to the US anyway, so I don’t see a difference, unless you are planning to stay in the other country?


    1. Brett visited the Philippines many times when he was in the navy, and would never consent to going back LOL. Also, neither of us speak Tagalog, and it’s so far from family. I think for some it would be ideal, but for us, no.

      We have very seriously considered Honolulu, and although there are many positives there are honestly too many drawbacks. It’s just too far from anyone in our family, and the cost of living is really too high for the two of us. We could rent an apartment for less there than on Kaua’i, but that apartment would be smaller than the one we have now! Also, we would be pretty much be starting again from scratch if we moved to Honolulu – new furniture (again). household goods (again), buying a car (would not ship this one), etc. We have had to do this twice in the past three years and it’s crushingly expensive (and I would have to go through this if I have to leave Honolulu). For those reasons, we have very sadly removed Honolulu from our list of potential locations.


  3. I can’t wait to hear where you end up. I, very selfishly, look forward to your blog posts so I can follow along in your life. May I suggest you rethink storing furniture in Tennessee? Storage facility costs add up and if you are gone a couple years you could easily spend more in rental fees than the furniture is worth.


    1. We will only be storing a very few things: our new credenza, our new chair, our bed frame (not the mattress though), and the few household goods and small appliances we have here. After having to start from scratch twice in the past three years, the cost of storing our things, even for five years, would be less than it’s cost us to set up housekeeping again. We don’t expect to need more than a 5′ x 10′ storage space for everything (with room to spare).


  4. Thank you for sharing your thinking about the move, and all the considerations! As others commented above, I also believe it’s important to find a community that you can find friends (not a problem for you two, I’m sure) and I would rethink keeping anything in storage.

    Even though you don’t intend to lean on your children financially, it must make you feel all warm and fuzzy that the heartfelt offer is there!


    1. We are very grateful to our children for their offer and it does offer us some peace of mind. I know that if Brett predeceased me, there is a very, very good chance that I would eventually move closer to one or more of our daughters.

      See my answer to Denise below about the storage. The cost of setting up housekeeping is more expensive than most people realized. We kept it very simple this time and still spent around $10,000; it was more when we set up housekeeping on Kaua’i in 2020. So, we are going to keep some things this time, just in case.

      Having and making friends is an important consideration to us as we determine our future location.


  5. We have moved to Germany for 6 months to give it a try as we felt the years were ticking by and it was now or never. We had 3 previous sliding doors moments where each time Germany was the loser so we felt it was an itch we had to scratch. What has been interesting to us is how much cheaper life is here compared to the US and especially Hawaii. We also feel much happier here because we can ignore the gun violence and the politics of the US. We have committed to a 6 month stint as that will enable us to get away before it gets to the depths of winter and the necessity to buy winter clothing. Like you and Brett, we try and make decisions that if one of us should die, the other is not financially committed to living a life not of their choosing. After our initial stint is up here we will discuss whether we want to return or not.


    1. The #1 thing we have on our list of criteria is that we relocate to someplace we have been before and liked. The top places we are considering have a much lower cost of living than the U.S. (especially Hawaii LOL) and none of the gun violence.

      Both places are ones where I wouldn’t mind living on my own if Brett dies ahead of me; ditto for him although I think he would probably relocate back to somewhere near our daughters more quickly than I would.

      Six months is a perfect amount of time to figure out where a place is a good fit for you or not. I hope it works out for you!!


      1. I find it interesting that so many people are suggesting Honolulu to you. After living there for 12 months we feel the COL is out of control and way beyond what most people would imagine and we still receive a generous income from my husband’s contract work. However we have decided there is only so much money to go round and we choose not to spend it on rent/health insurance for medical services which I found to be somewhat lacking and way too much on food. We will be moving on from Honolulu on a permanent basis.


      2. For us, it came down to the reality of what it would cost us to set up housekeeping again in a smaller apartment than we have now (even keeping it simple it would be way more than we spent this time).

        It’s so sad to me that back when we moved to Kaua’i in 2014 it was expensive but very doable – we always had money left over at the end of the month – even with kids. There’s no way now.


  6. I also think you should reconsider Honolulu. If something happens down the road then you can deal with it then. Nothing is set in stone and I think wanting this to be the one and final move doesn’t seem quite realistic( although i hate moving so I’m probably not the best judge). Anyway, good luck with the decision. It’s still a ways out so many things could/will change.


    1. We love Honolulu, but there are just too many negatives for us to consider it now outside of the cost of living, the most important being the distance from family and the very high cost of setting up housekeeping there again.

      We haven’t firmly decided anything yet although we’ve narrowed things down.


  7. I have in the past truly considered moving to Mexico or Central America when I finally completely retire. What has stopped me is something you don’t have to consider probably, I have a huge amount of Alzheimers relatives in my mom’s family, including her. I would not want to be away from everyone and everything I know if this happens because I am afraid it would make it difficult on my family to cart me back home. I did buy a retirement/weekend home close to where a couple of my kids live for under $100,000 before prices went crazy a couple of years ago. It is very small but I can walk to Aldi, doctor, pharmacy, etc. Of course, if I develop Alzheimers/dementia I won’t be wandering around the city. However, if I just don’t want to drive the car I have sidewalks where I can easily get to the places mentioned. I am also within a mile of the local hospital. It was the best I could do I think, looking at my options. Definitely not perfect and I would have preferred an adventure. But I figure I can still travel
    to Mexico and rent when I fully retire. I hope you are able to find a place that is great fun for both of y’all and your family to visit! It is really hard to make these decisions and we just do the best we can. I admire your flexibility and sense of adventure!


    1. Although senior dementia has reared its head in both our families, Alzheimer’s has not. The dementia in both families has show up quite late in life in both families as well, from the mid-80s to the 90s. Both Brett and I are doing things that we hope will keep our brains active and healthy longer (things our parents and grandparents didn’t do).

      Your retirement home location has always sounded perfect for you. And, you can still travel and stay for longer periods when you’re fully retired. We are feeling more and more than we want to settle down and travel less, but I honestly can’t see us ever stopping completely. at least not for a good long while.


  8. I’m curious if your happy feelings are greater than the stress feelings which I’m sensing here by reading between the lines. It’s a big decision, isn’t it? It’s pretty hard being widowed, but my beloved husband wouldn’t ever have agreed to leave Illinois, so now there are choices to be made (eventually) by good old over-thinking me!


    1. There is most definitely some stress these days over where we should go. Before we felt we had time to correct mistakes or move on if we grew unhappy, but now we don’t have that time so want to get this move right and for the right reasons. Sadly, one of those reasons is figuring out the best (overseas) place for me to be if something happens to Brett ahead of me and vice versa (he won’t have the financial issues I would, but we both think it will be harder for him to live on his own otherwise).

      Believe it or not, we talk about this almost EVERY day! I will be glad when we reach a decision about where we’re going and can start talking about that and figuring out what we need to do to make it happen!


      1. You are quite amazing, and there is no doubt that it will work out well! Happy to be able to “follow” you!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Very interesting analysis. I look forward to how this plays out…your lives are always interesting. 😊. I do think about what I would do if left alone, as DH is 7 years older than I am and has a couple health problems. But then again, we never know how life will play out. But one of my girlfriends and I were chatting about this, and it’s much more common for women to outlive men. Not a fun thought, but realistic.


    1. We don’t know how things will play out (to be honest, I actually think I will predecease Brett, but he runs the higher risk of developing dementia) so we working to make the best decision possible for both scenarios. It’s harder than we thought it would be but I do think we’ll get it right in the end.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I can only offer my own perspective on things as a person who has moved from one continent to another a couple of times and has children and grandchildren who have moved between continents a couple of times as well, with the hope that reading about different perspectives will help you make a good decision for you guys. Also, my DIL’s parents relocated to Portugal in 2000 as retirees and we keep in touch with them, so we kind of know the ups and downs of that move over time. If you want more details, please email me privately.

    About storing stuff: I only used an 8×10 unit once when we were between houses ( we sold one and were waiting for the other to be built) and we had to move into an apartment for 7 months (May-December). We stored a set of couches, a fridge and other small furniture(end tables, chairs), a couple of lamps, and such. We ended up asking Salvation Army to come and pick up almost everything in that unit because the wood items were warped from the summer heat, the fridge door gasket molded and I couldn’t get the mold out of that rubber, and the upholstered items got a musty smell but also there were big black spiders living in there…you get the idea. Unless you get a storage unit with climate control, I personally don’t recommend storing anything for more than a couple of months.

    Being a resident of a different country comes with a set of ongoing issues such as the ability to read and understand legal paperwork ( renting contracts, utility contracts, visa and residency applications, etc). People who are relocating employ lawyers($$$) or consultants to help them navigate foreign bureaucracies if they don’t SPEAK the language to an acceptable level. There is no foreign language easy to learn as you are a better expert than me and you know this very well. However, my friendly advice is to search at least within countries using the same alphabet. As tempting as it may be to go for the cheapest option, in my experience that strategy never worked very well eventually.

    You guys have moved around a lot so I am pretty confident that you’ll diligently make the decision that makes the most sense to you. I am very curious to see where you’ll eventually decide to settle. I can’t believe there has been almost a year since you moved to Nashville…the clock starts ticking😊


    1. So much good advice – thank you!

      Our language skills are going to be minimal at best (we’re working on it though – we study daily), but we would definitely hire a consultant or concierge to help us through all of the paperwork once we arrived. One country we’re considering would definitely require this sort of service, the other wouldn’t be as onerous. Neither of the countries we’re considering are what I would call cheap, but they are affordable for us.

      I think we have the moving part down. The store we would use here is climate controlled, and we would only need a 5′ x 10′ container; the prices are reasonable and it would cost us far less than what it would cost us to completely set up housekeeping again if we returned to the U.S. within five years. We’ve done that twice in the past three years and the costs were high whether it was Hawaii or Tennessee (Amazon Prime prices are the same in both places).

      We have another two years to go in Nashville, but it feels like the clock is moving very, very slowly right now – not sure why. But, that gives us lots of time to save and get everything arranged carefully before we move. Tennessee is also a great state to relocate overseas from as there is no state income tax.


  11. Moving is truly “crushingly expensive” as you mention. Our move from Arizona to Massachusetts was a nightmare of unexpected costs. $15,000 to move our stuff. It took 2 full weeks to get here and so we had to stay in a hotel for a total of three weeks at a nightmarish cost. And it was not a fancy hotel by any means. Then there was the shipping of the car. It was supposed to take 7 days. It took 3 weeks. So we had to rent a car for that time at a cost of $1200 a week. We couldn’t bring our couches as they were just too old and falling apart. When we arrived here we bought a new couch and chair for a total of $5000.00. Again nothing fancy. Plus we have to wait 3 months for the furniture to be built. The pandemic has just made everything so hard and so expensive. All I know is that this has to be our final move. We are now pretty much out of money and the energy for doing this ever again.


    1. Your story points out the true costs of making a cross country move. Even if your are only moving your stuff from Point A to Point B in town, moving is expensive. But when you go across country, or lose or have to replace items, or basically start over from scratch, the costs rise exponentially. Especially as you get older too, and don’t have a ready supply of friends to help you move heavy furniture and so forth. For our move back to Kauai in 2020 and our move here, we had to replace almost EVERYTHING, from shower curtains to coffee makers to furniture to pots and pans to linens to dishes . . . everything. So we will store a few items this next time for a few years, just in case we return to the U.S. Storage for five years will cost us less than what it would to start from scratch again. If we’re still overseas at that point we’ll make a call on what to do with the stuff in storage. Most of our furniture now (not as nice as yours) will go to one of our daughters.


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