How Retiring Overseas Can Make You Healthier

03/01/2017 02:41 pm ET Updated Mar 13, 2017
Farmer’s Market in Loja, Ecuador
InternationalLiving.com
Farmer’s Market in Loja, Ecuador

By Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher, InternationalLiving.com

This article comes to us courtesy of InternationalLiving.com, the world’s leading authority on how to live, work, invest, travel, and retire better overseas.

Take it from us: it’s possible to lead a happier, more affordable, and far healthier life just by retiring to the right place.

The “more affordable” part is pretty obvious. There are many places on earth where the cost of living—including utilities, transportation, taxes, rent, healthcare, and real estate—is a fraction of what it is in North America.

The “happier” part isn’t hard to figure out, either. For almost 16 years now, we’ve been living outside the U.S. in places where it never snows…indeed where the nighttime temperatures rarely get below freezing. We’re originally from Nebraska, so during certain times of the year—like winter—we’re much, much happier to be in a place where the weather won’t kill you.

Throw in the “more affordable” part above, and living comfortably weather-wise as well as inexpensively and you can imagine how that might make you extremely happy.

But how does the “healthier” part work? How would the place you live help make you healthier?

Here’s what we’ve found:

First, thanks to the temperate climate of the places we’d recommend as the world’s best overseas retirement destinations, you’ll simply find that you walk more. That doesn’t sound like a big thing, but it is. When the weather is fine enough for you to simply walk out your front door at practically any time of the day or night without having to gear up like a survivalist, it makes taking a walk a pleasure instead of a chore.

And walking is amazingly good exercise. It’s the original exercise, in fact…for eons it was the only way most humans got around, so walking is something everyone is designed to do. And we’re designed to do a lot of it without much wear and tear.

It’s actually NOT walking a lot that clogs up the works and wears humans out, and when you live in a place where the weather is always conducive to walking, there really aren’t any excuses.

So walking makes you healthier, and in the overseas destinations we’d recommend, you’ll be able to walk a lot. And one of the best places to walk to in many of these warm places is the mercado or farmers’ market.

These markets are a common feature in much of the world, and we’re not talking about the high-priced weekend “farmers’ markets” found in many U.S. urban centers where boutique and specialty items are sold in small quantities at high prices.

Instead, these are daily markets where local farmers and fishermen sell whatever they’ve just harvested from the ground or pulled from the water or the butchering shed.

Remember, because of the perfect year-round weather in most of the places that make for enjoyable overseas retirement destinations, the growing or fishing seasons are also year-round, so there is always something fresh on offer.

The offerings vary during the course of a year, but there is never a time of year when it’s necessary to live on food out of cans, boxes, or bags, or on the irradiated/gassed/frozen/under-ripe produce of some far-off industrial farm.

In other words, if you choose your location right, absolutely fresh and unprocessed fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, beef, poultry, pork, fish, and grain is always readily available within walking distance. And you can have it for remarkably low prices, since this is everyday stuff—not boutique or specialty items—bought directly from the farmer.

Healthy.

So you’ll walk a lot, and you’ll eat fresh, inexpensive food. And there’s a third health factor we, personally, have come to enjoy and appreciate very much. And you will, too.

We have very little stress in our lives.

Again, it depends on where you chose to settle...

You can stroll villages where traffic jams are most often caused by passing herds of sheep or cows. If something doesn’t get done today, the foundations of civilization will not fall…it can get done tomorrow. If you have to go farther than you can walk, you can take a taxi or bus, and if you miss one, another one will be along in a few minutes and will rarely cost more than a buck or two.

In our case, when we need to deal with something financial or legal in the Big City, we take one of those buses or taxis and deal with it. When we’re done, we go back to the village and have a beer or glass of wine and shake it off.

Blood pressures go down. Voices get softer and lower. Power walking becomes strolling. Decisions are made sitting on park benches in the shade of large trees watching friends and neighbors go by. Perspective returns.

We could go on…these are not nearly all the factors that make for a healthier life in the right place.

You’ll find yoga and fitness classes, golf courses, tennis clubs, hiking, birdwatching and kayak groups, and much more to keep you healthily busy.

In most organized expat communities, you’ll find bridge, mah jong, artists and writers and other groups to keep your brain engaged... There are travel groups and plenty of cultural opportunities, too.

And here’s the deal... you can do any of this any day of the year, outside beneath a beautiful blue sky... Your cost of living will likely be a fraction of what it might be if you retired somewhere in the northern latitudes...

You’ll eat a healthier diet, you’ll have far less stress, and should you ever need mainstream medical attention, rest assured, in the places we’d recommend, you’ll have access to top-quality care—also at a fraction of the costs you’re likely paying now.

It’s taken us nearly 16 years to really zero in on what makes for a good retirement...and the one thing that stands out is this: Your health is your key to the good life. We think we’ve found that key.

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