Recently, a fellow blogger reminded me what a great opportunity we all have here in the blogoshpere. Her interests are related to some of mine, and Jonelle asked some questions that got me thinking… and that’s nearly always dangerous. This post addresses some of her questions. If you are a baby-boomer thinking about retirement, you are probably thinking about these issues also.
1.) What made you decide on international work/travel, vs full-time work, as an option?
We (Stanley and Marsha, as we are called online) had both worked for many years. We knew we would never be fabulously wealthy, so why continue to bring in more money just because? We live simply, have never been big spenders, so it was time to do things we were interested in, rather than things we had to do. I know many people love their work, and good for them. While we enjoyed work, it kept us following an imposed schedule, and we were ready for freedom to chose our own happenings.
International? When we were married, well over 3 decades ago, we immediately pulled up our tent posts, disregarded wise advice, joined the Peace Corps and moved to Colombia. Even back then, it was clear that the vagabond life appealed to us. We crossed many borders, and began to appreciate what travel teaches. We returned home, and spent the following decade or two doing the normal things Americans do: working, having kids, settling down. But as soon as Stanley had a chance, he retired (at 57 years old) and I did the same a year later. We contemplated what retirement should look like (for about 3 minutes) and then joined the Peace Corps again. This time, we lived in Ukraine for a year. Stanley would be traveling as a life style if he could, but Marsha needs her home base.
2.) What were the most important aspects of your planning that made this lifestyle possible?
We started our life together roaming the world, then settled down for a long time. But we always live simply and don’t demand that the world treat us with luxury. We live frugally, we travel well, but within our means.
3.) What would you say to someone wanting to plan a life of international work/travel (or something like you two are now doing in Ukraine)?
We actually are home from Ukraine, but what a life-changing jaunt that was! I highly recommend volunteer programs like the Peace Corps. The volunteer is offered a stipend to allow them to live a modest lifestyle. Their contribution is to offer their talents to a developing country. In Ukraine, for instance, we taught English in the university system. Living in another country is not the same as travel. Both are enriching experiences, but very different. It takes some time to arrange, but if a long-term experience in another country is what you want, it is completely realistic. It’s not a porch-swing behind a white-picket fence retirement plan, but something very much worthwhile.
Some boomers may be interested in short-term Peace Corps commitments. Hmmmmm – maybe I’ll just follow that link myself.