We've been noticing something intriguing here in our little Andean mountain village in northern Ecuador.
More and more single women from the U.S. and Canada are showing up.
And they're not coming as tourists. They're settling here...as in, renting and buying apartments, condos, or houses and living here full- or part-time.
And it's not just happening where we live. It's happening almost everywhere expat communities exist. From Ajijic, Merida, and San Miguel de Allende in Mexico to Boquete and Panama City in Panama to Cuenca and Salinas in Ecuador and points in between and beyond...more single women than ever before are staking their claims to the expat lifestyle.
What's going on?
Photo courtesy of InternationalLiving.com
We've noticed several things that could be contributing to this trend.
First, there are just more women at or near retirement age these days. It's the Boomer generation after all, and roughly half the babies born during the baby boom years were female. It's just statistics.
Second, just as their male Boomer counterparts, female Boomers are finished raising children, done with careers, and ready to enjoy the fruits of their lifelong labor. And many of them are looking abroad for that fruit. And finding it.
Third, the generation of women at or near retirement age right now are the generation that started the modern women's liberation movement. They grew up expecting the same rights as men...including the right to go anywhere on the planet they want to, and do it by themselves if they want to.
Fourth, more and more of these women are, in fact, by themselves. Statistically, they outlive their male partners. And statistically, more of them have gotten divorces or separations from their male partners than any previous generation of women. And again, statistically, more of them stayed single in the first place than any other generation of women in history.
Fifth, this generation of women is generally better off financially than any previous generation. They've simply worked more at more kinds of jobs and made more money at them than women ever have before.
Sixth, they know how to use the Internet. And the Internet is where you're reading this right now. It's where other women who have made the move abroad post their blogs and tell their stories. It's where companies like International Living post information about living, working, and retiring abroad. It's where most of the ideas about living better for less overseas are discussed and shared all day, every day. And this generation of women are plugged in to all that.
And seventh... and this is just our opinion formed from meeting hundreds of these women in dozens of expat destinations over the past few years...this generation of women actually make better expats than men do for one hugely important reason.
They are running to something...not away from something.
Photo courtesy of InternationalLiving.com
At the risk of seeming overly simplistic about this, a lot of men we know who move abroad do so because they dislike the way things are back home. This is fairly obvious when you sit in the expat cafés and bars and restaurants and listen in on their conversations. They're often talking about how bad things are back home and how glad they are to have gotten out when they did.
Now eavesdrop in the same cafés and restaurants on a table full of expat women. They're nearly always talking about the strange and wonderful new fruits they found at the local mercado...or the craft projects they're working on for the upcoming community fundraiser...or the beautiful children they met while volunteering at the local school...or the incredible costumes and dances they saw while attending the local holiday celebration...or the remarkable scenery they encountered on their latest day trip into the countryside.
They're here because they've always wanted to be here. They're having the adventures they've always dreamed of. They ran to the expat destination of their choice because they love it and want to be part of it.
In our experience, there is an ever-growing number of women who feel this way and have reached the age and position in life to do something about it. And they're not letting anything stop them from making those lifelong dreams come true.