I've just read Freedom is Groovy's post about Five Things Geoarbitrage Can Do to Improve Your Life. I can't argue with any of the five positives that Mr Groovy talks about.
But having lived in the UK, Jamaica, Hong Kong, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and currently France, I have a good amount of experience of relocating, and I know that it has it's challenges too.
With the exception of France, my moves were for work. That didn't mean that the relocations were always seamless or easy, but it did give a clear purpose to the moves. Work can also be a good way to meet people in a new location, as can having school age children which provide a multitude of ways to meet new people. But relocating in retirement doesn't generally come with such work or children related meeting opportunities.
As an aside, one of the most surprising and enjoyable aspects of my blog is the blog friends I've made. One regularly emails me with comments, questions or suggestions, which I always enjoy receiving.
After last week's early retirement costs and targets post, she emailed to say that "if I'm not going to live in ski country then purchasing touring skis now was a bit premature" as well as to tell me that she's "interested to see where I decide to plant my roots as it definitely isn't where I live now or I wouldn't be thinking about it".
I like that she challenges my thoughts and choices, it encourages me to think things through. Here's how I responded:
"Whatever we decide, I hope I’ll get good use from the skis as wherever we end up, I think we’ll still have the apartment in France to visit frequently. As long as I use the skis 45 times then I’ll have covered the alternative cost of renting them. I sound like I’m trying to justify the purchase here🤣". Today's update: I used them once this week, so only 44 more to go!
"I’m also interested to see where we decide to plant our roots! Spending around 20 of the last 25 years living in places where we didn't expect to settle has really caught me out. I didn’t realise it would make me feel dislocated and that I’d lose a sense of where home is. It’s resulted in a situation that I find quite confusing and difficult to solve.
I’m not so sure that Morzine in France isn’t the place but, at the same time, I’m not convinced it is. Many aspects of Morzine tick the boxes for me, but there are also some negatives. My lack of language skills is a huge barrier. I could and should work harder on the language, but I’m not sure I can get to the level required to feel comfortable and to properly integrate into the local community. Perhaps languages just aren’t my thing.
Also, I’m not sure what the better option to France is. The UK, where I grew up, where my passport is from and where we have family and some friends would seem a natural choice. Language wouldn't be an issue and I know how things work in the UK, but somehow I’m not convinced it’s what I want. An option could be to have our small apartment in France plus a small place in the UK and split our time between the two. But something doesn’t feel quite right about that, it feels wasteful to operate two homes, and do we end up not quite settling properly in either of them?
Then there's that part of me that is determined to make the most of my early retirement. It would be easy to settle into a life of monotony, daytime television and the like, but I know that I'd look back in later years and kick myself if I don't make the most of my early retirement. As an ex-accountant, my idea of adventure may not be crazily outlandish, but I do want to do things, live a life that in my terms is perhaps a little daring, not too normal or boring. I'm not even sure what that means in terms of the equation of where to settle, but it seems important. What does Sally think, what does she want to do, and what about the cats, how does this all tie in? It’s certainly wonderful to have options and choices, but it can be confusing too!"
So, figuratively and literally, where do we go from here? I have a gut feel of which direction to take although my head questions whether it's a sensible choice. The accountant part of me would say to follow my head but early retired me, new me, says to pay more attention to the messages from my gut and my heart. Add to that conundrum, what does Sally want? Sometimes early retirement is more complicated than working!
The one thing I'm sure of is that a decision needs to be made. It's a big decision and one that we want to get right. But I must also remember my own advice that if, in due course, we find that we haven't made the right choice, it won't be the end of the world, we can always adjust. What we must do is stop procrastinating and make a decision.
My situation isn't really what Mr Groovy was talking about, but his post definitely got me thinking. If you're considering geoarbitrage (or relocation), for sure think about the upsides and the positives, but don't forget to consider what the challenges may be as well. And when that all seems too confusing, try to find that right balance between your head and your heart.