What About Friends & Family and Security & Responsibilities?


You are just moving to another country, not leaving the planet. With the email, Skype and Facebook, it’s easy to keep in touch with friends and family.  Since I didn’t live in the same town as my daughter or my family, visiting them was always a plane ride away.  Now, when I return each winter to work, I get to spend more time with my family than I did when I had a regular job and lived in Florida.


If your friends and family really object more than just missing you, remember each person has their own agenda and perhaps, your happiness is not be tops on the list.  Some will be afraid for your safety, but don’t let others fears become your fears.  Use the same precautions you would living anywhere in the USA, especially as a single woman.


As for security, I believe is it a myth.  No matter how much planning, how much insurance or how much or lack of money you have, life still happens.  Life is unpredictable.  Good and bad things are going to happen regardless of where you live. People change, jobs come and go, the stock market can crash and people die.  One of my favorite quotes is from Steve Jobs of Apple, “Remembering you are going to die helps you avoid the trap that you have something to lose.”


After my fiancé died, I felt like I had nothing to loose.  My wall of resistance was like a crack in the sidewalk.  If you believe that the life you have right now is as good as it is going to get, then your resistance to change is different. Once the pendulum swings and what once want comfy like an old shoe, now looks worn out and dumpy, then your resistance level changes.  Always in life, we need consistency and inconsistency to be happy.  Too much routine becomes boring and too much in consistency becomes frightening.  A little of both is just right.


As for responsibilities, you are responsible for yourself first, and then friends and family second.  Your job as a parent is raise independent productive members of society.  Taking it past this teaches them that they can’t survive without you and that in some way they are handicap.  If you have chosen to help out in a pinch that is one thing, but each person must stand on their own and live with their means. Some who have been given so much destroy it and others who have been given nothing thrive.  Often, they are siblings; so parenting had nothing to do with it. If you have small children, of course you can take them with you and homeschool, I met many doing that while I liked on the sailboat.  With the Internet it is quite easy and lots of on-line programs to help.



Wither you take action or not, choices will still be made and life will march on.  There will never a perfect time and you will probably never think you have enough money, but there are many already many people living extraordinary lives abroad and each one of them just too the leap of faith and went.  My motto, Keep it light and keep moving.  Playing it safe is a dangerous game.

Pat’s Questions

Pat:  We would be moving as a family and have a good retirement income. I am on a high protein, low carb diet for health reasons. Can I do it there?  I would need to see a doctor on occation. We would be moving with school age children, how will that work?  What is the climate?  Is the economy stable?


Of course, you can do high protein, low carb which is basically meat and veggies.  Food is locally grown and we are very seasonal with very little ethnic foods.  Most cooking is done at home and we shop daily.


As for doctors, you can easily find an English language doctor and pay as you go, very nominally.  Bring medicenes you will need for the length of your stay.  You can buy them here too.  Remember, without a visa , you will need to leave the country periodically.  I keep an catastrophic USA health care plan, but would be very comfortable going to the hospital here.  They are very modern and not crowded like people say.


Your kids can go to English language school at first (private).  They are young enough that picking up Italian shouldn’t be to difficult.  At our age, it gets more challenging.


As for climate: in Tuscany we have all four seasons similar to North or South Carolina.  The north is mountainous, so more winter and Sicily is an island more similar to Florida.  There is a big difference in lifestyle from North of Rome to South of Rome, so rent an apartment and try different areas. The seaside is quite lovely and there are many to choose from.


Climate politically, I think it is the same in every country.  If you buy into gloom and doom, you can find it.  On a daily basis, does it effect me or my family, no.  We have elections and promises but we live a simple, wonderful life.


My biggest advice is come for 3 months and live like a local before you do anything and decide if this is right for you before you move anything.  Do it in summer when the kids are out of school. Do NOt try to recreate you life in the USA with TV, computers, media, stuff and busyness.  Replace these things with appreciating the culture, art, history, meaningful reading and spending long summer days in nature and really enjoy time, freedom and adventure to explore and discover who you are and your children’s talents.

What if I Don’t have Enough Money to go on Vacation for a Month?

You are not “going on vacation.”  You are going to experience another place as a local. You will know in advance how much money you will need, so stick to your budget. Flight, room, groceries and pocket money.  Use frequent flyer miles or scan the web for  deal.  I fly only major city to major city and then us a local, cheap fly to get to the big outbound city. You will live in someone’s home or a fully furnished apt and cook your own meals.  Your time will be spent walking the city streets, exploring or sitting on bench and observing. Your days will be filled with the new site and sounds your new town and letting it re-set your body clock back to your natural rhythm.  People often ask, “What do you do all day?” because we are so over stimulated that we forget that we are naturally creative. Leave some room for serendipity !


Consider renting out your place for the month while you are gone. Ask all your friends if they know someone who would like your place for a little holiday.  There are several home exchange sites on the internet.  99% of the world is filled with wonderful people, just like you.  Only the freaks make the news. Nice people doing loving things don’t sell. It’s just stuff!  No one is going to take your high school pom poms!  haha.


Money will always be an issue until you learn to use it differently.  If you can’t make it from week to week or have debt, your are living above your means. Housing is the biggest money eater that is disguised as a necessity and first and easiest thing to change.  Either get into something cheaper, like a 1 or 2 bedroom condo with little or no maintenance and share the pool and tennis courts or start to share the house you are in.  If you are a single mom, get a single mom roommate and start splitting expenses and childcare needs.   Rent out your spare rooms and start collecting $400-$1000 a month depending where you live. Include utilities so you don’t stuck in picking apart the bills.  You are already paying anyway. Set house rules so every one knows the drill and pick someone like yourself.  You many find a wonderful new friend and make lots of “instant” money.

How Do I Go for a Month if I Don’t have that Much Vacation Time?


Ask for an unpaid leave of absence.  You will be surprised how many companies would love to have you off the payroll for a few weeks.  Before you ask, make sure you can show your boss how she will cope with your work load when you are gone.  Try not to offer to “work remotely every day” as it will spoil your internal clock resetting. If you were sick or had to take time away to care for a family member, you would like a way to make it work.  Do it for yourself now, while you are healthy.  Get creative.  Think outside the box.


It seems like we have time and no money or no time but money. I can assure you that the perfect time will never come.  You just have to take the leap of faith and go.  The world won’t fall apart because you are gone for a few weeks. Things will always come up but only you make the  important or not.

How do You Live Abroad and Make Money?

I live in Italy for 8 months a year and the other 4 months I come back to the USA and work at a high season , high tourist resort job.  Since the cost of living is so low in Italy, even with the exchange rate, it is possible to rent something for $600-$1000 a month furnished including utilities.


You can rent a fully furnished apartment or room with utilities and internet for less than taxes and insurance on my home in Florida…which I liquidated and rent out to cover the mortgage.  Rent your home furnished if you can. You will get pennies for furniture and housewares anyway and it will save you a lot of hassle.  Don’t pay to store furniture.  It takes up a lot of space and you may never use it again.  Choose your renters carefully or hire an agency. They usually take the first month for finding a tenant and 10% for collecting the rent.  You will be surprised at who is renting these days.


Then, in the winter time, I return to the USA and work in a high season , high tourist job where I am tipped.  This way, I am living where the temperature is the best, the town is hopping and I am sure to get a job and tourists are abound with money to spend.  In winter, high tourist areas are Aspen, Key West or Palm Springs/Phx for example.  If you want to live in the Carribean or Mexico, your off season would be summer, so your high season would be Alaska, Hilton Head, Nantucket, Cape Cod or expensive resort town.


Take any job where you are tipped, so wait tables, cocktail, bar tend, hotel nanny, valet or bell hop, concierge, or beer babe on the golf course.  Choose your place based solely on how much money you can make in a short period of time, so you don’t have to work for the rest of the year.


Rent a room from a local in their home ( I have done well with Craigslist…you will be surprised who is renting out rooms to supplement their mortgages) – bring nothing but clothing and your car, if you kept it or take the bus.  So the key is to work as many hours as possible while keeping your cost of living to as low as possible. I have friends who are nurses and they take 3 month “traveling nurses” contracts that include housing and then stash the cash and return back to Italy.  Think of other seasonal work you could do that includes housing.


Before or after my “winter job”, I go see my family and really get to spend time together- like several weeks.  My Mom loves when I come, we get her whole ” Honey do list” for the year done in just a few weeks.”  When you do extended visits with friends or family, offer your time and talents.  You are home and can wait for a repair man for roof or A/C inspections.  Offer to take the car for service and sit and wait, or take the dog to the groomers.  I love to garden and paint, so I am happy to jump on those jobs.  I call it visiting without mooching!