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
- 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.