Babyboomers Leaving In Record Numbers

"Something’s happening in the United States. The desire to invest, live, vacation…and retire…outside America…is growing.

On newsstands, glossy travel magazine covers claim to tell you all about it. In Panama City, I know some of the people–fellow readers–who are doing it.

The idea of retiring overseas is not a new one. But the sheer volume of Americans due to retire is staggering. Today 38% of the U.S. population is over 50. By 2020, half the U.S. population will be over 50. Most Americans aged 41-59 say they’ll move when they retire."

At present the "hot country" is Panama City… Like Costa Rica was a few years back.

Panama City???

"Sultry…that is to say, very hot and humid… Unsavory slum areas with ankle-breaking sidewalks and mad drivers in banged-up vehicles who could run you down at any turn… Down-at-the-heel neighborhoods where the streets are lined with sagging wooden shacks built alongside once-glorious but now moldering old mansions…"

Ah, paradise… Or maybe not?

We live in the greatest country in the world with immense diversity in all aspects and we want to leave?!?  Maybe it is time to stand-up and fight for the things we love(d) about this country, feel we want back and what  we know needs changing or correcting…. instead of leaving!  Is this just the next stage of the silent majority or middle America knuckling under???  Is moving to a third world country to retire really easier than standing up for what you believe, saying what you think and investing some time in doing what makes this country great… like campaigning, voting. leafleting, speaking and writing on what "middle America" does want and believes, challenging our elected officials and enduring being called politically incorrect.  I think not!

Stand up America… while there still is something to fight for!  We have the power!  The question is do we have the guts and stick-to-it-tiveness… or is it just easier to dessert the sinking ship and leave the problems behind for our kids and grandkids?

My personal experience with this "retiring abroad" situation is through my cousin, Ron, who is a few years younger than I, and his wife Lynne.  He grew up, most of his life, in the Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo area and has surfed virtually everyday of his teenage and adult life.  When his wife retired about 3-years back, they put their San Luis Obispo home up for lease and prepared to move lock stock and barrel to their new home, in Costa Rica; custom built ,with mostly US goodies that they had shipped from here, with local Costa Rican labor but the construction being over-seen by my cousin over about a 2+ year period.

They bought 4 ten acre lots, one with a small house already on it and a pond on another, surrounded by jungle and at the edge of the ocean, where the surfing was pristine.  They were about 100 miles from San Jose and near a tiny town consisting of a general store of sorts, a combo post office and communications center, a few local businesses and a couple of restaurants and cantinas.  There were some other Americans and Europeans who owned lots near them and some had built, a few even lived there, but their neighbors were mostly seasonal or vacation visitors at this point.

Before leaving we met up with them for a short visit and breakfast.  They talked about waking up to the sound of monkeys and birds and how lush and beautiful it was on their property… truly like moving to Paradise!  Ron said there were a couple of monkeys that hung out at the restaurants and cantinas… like mascots, and he was considering opening a surf camp there, which is what lead them to look at Costa Rica to start with.  In the meantime he was going to finish-up working on their home and perhaps do some contracting and property management for other Americans moving down there.

They invited all their friends and family to come down and visit.  They had a whole second house to put anyone up in.  To my knowledge, my aunt (a few times), Ron’s brother and a trip each for their 2 grown kids with their families were the only ones who ever made it down, before we got the New Year’s Card, not even 2-years after they moved, that they had really enjoyed their adventure, but they were ready for a change and had bought a house in Connecticut.  Wow… Connecticut?!?  Can you surf there?

Seems that you can only take so many walks, read so many books and take so many photos of monkeys, birds, jungle and water…  It was hard t to communicate with the outside world and it was lonely (even after a trip back to San Luis Obispo and one to Italy for their daughter’s wedding)!  Even for the consummate surfer… the endless wave seemed endless!

The beautiful hand-crafted home they rented out in California was used as a party-house and they never collected a penny’s worth of rent after the initial deposit. And that money and more was needed to repair the damages.  The people moving down to Costa Rica wanted to hire Ron… with his American expertise, but wanted to pay Costa Rican wages.  And the surf school met with obstacle after obstacle.  Plus I heard their relationship was showing some wear.

They are now in Connecticut, hoping to either lease and eventually sell their holdings in Costa Rica.

I am the last one to say don’t try something new, or don’t invest or even retire outside of the US… but make sure it is for the right reasons and with your eyes open.  And lets all make sure we have a country we love to come home to, if we so choose.  In the infamous words of Dorothy and crew "There’s no place like home!".

Marion Algier, Freelance Writer

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About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place".
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