Thursday, December 13, 2012

Retirement Can Be an Adventure

I read an article the other day in the Wall Street Journal online about a retired couple who sold their house in California last year and have been living more or less 'on the move' ever since. They've whittled their stuff down to what they can carry in a few suitcases and move slowly around the world, renting furnished apartments and houses online that they live in for a month or two.

In the past 18 months, they have lived in Mexico, Argentina, Florida, Turkey, France, Italy, England and the US. They will finish out the year in Ireland and Morocco before going back to the US to spend the holidays with family.

I've done enough traveling to know that I need a home of my own to come back to -- a place to keep the stuff that I enjoy when I'm home. I've already over-purged my belongings once and then decided I wanted some of it back. That was a lesson well learned.

But why not a compromise between staying home and moving all the time? I told myself for years that, as soon as I learn enough French, I'm going to rent an apartment in France and live there for a while to become comfortable speaking a third language. I've always thought that six months would be nice, but that was before I met Terry. He has no desire to live in, or even visit, France. So I put that dream away for some undefined time in the future.

Reading this article got me thinking about that dream all over again. Terry is going to Florida to visit family and friends for five or six weeks in May and June, so what is stopping me from going to France at that same time? It won't be six months -- I don't really want to leave Mexico for six months -- but I can settle for two. I won't come home speaking perfect French, but a rental agreement and a ticket are good incentive to study over the next six months. And I can always go back another time to learn more.

The couple in the article have lots more cash than I do; but then, I own two houses in Mexico. Still, this seems like something I can do. I've seen quite a few vacation rentals online that rent for less than $1000US a month. With a kitchen for cooking my own gluten-free vegetarian meals, I'm pretty well set. And with wi-fi and my computer, I can do my few daily hours of work wherever I may be. And I have Skype on my iPod Touch so I can easily call home. And with more than one bedroom, I can even invite a girlfriend or two to come visit me and help with the rent.

The idea just keeps expanding as I think about the possibilities. The next year, I could do my "French Lesson" in Morocco and maybe Vietnam the year after that. What about French Polynesia? Or Vanuatu and the Seychelles? And then St. Barts and St. Martin in the Caribbean? I've been to some of these places but I always felt a little lost, or kind of left out, because I couldn't speak the language.

Speaking Spanish has made it easy for me to move around in Latin America and Spain. Sure, there are some differences in the way it's spoken in the different countries, but it hasn't been difficult to adapt. And my Spanish even came in handy once in Croatia when my tiny bit of Italian was lacking. I got away with using Spanish in Portugal, and with a Brazilian friend, too. Speaking French will open up so many more possibilities.

Actually, I've been to France before -- even to Provence -- but it was with a tour and we moved around so fast that we missed all but the main tourist traps. And,of course, I didn't speak any French at all. That was my first and only official tour.

I prefer the idea of slow travel, like I did in Japan. I had a whole month to enjoy Kyoto. It was so much better than a few days or even a week. Two months will allow me to return to Roussillion, and St. Remy, and Avignon. And I'll be able to visit Aix-en-Provence, and Grasse, where they make the perfume. And I can follow van Gogh around Arles. The more I think about this, the more excited I get! And of course I'll write all about it.

I've got to get back to my Rosetta Stone now...

If you would like to read more about the couple that brought on this whole plan, check out their website.


  1. Fabulous! I look forward to reading more about your new adventure(s), Kathy.

    A Cdn. friend now lives in Paris, so if you'd like to connect with her while you are in France, just let me know.

  2. Kathy,

    On two separate occasions we have lived in a rental apartment in Paris for one week. Both times we wished it was longer. I fondly remember our daily walks to the market for fresh produce and preparing meals in our own kitchen, shopping for wine and cheese, and of course the bread!

    Since you speak some French it will be so easy for you to feel right at home. Most Parisians speak English, but they love when Americans at least "try" to speak their language.

    A month will give you time to explore the countryside as well as the city. I hope you will do it! I'll be following along.

  3. Wow! What an amazing couple. They definitely made a great decision to make their retirement into an adventure that spans over different countries around the world. I’m pretty sure you can also make your retirement a happy one in your own way. Why don’t you convince Terry to travel with you? Show him some of the amazing places that you can both enjoy visiting! I’m sure you’d be able to sway him with this idea. Couple that with a clear and defined itinerary for all the places you have in mind and you can definitely turn the tables in your favor!