What and Why: Part-time Expat Living (Part 1: Adventure, Climate, Family)

If we could get into the psyches of people, we would probably discover that there are as many reasons why people choose to become part-time expats as there are people. We all have our own reasons for doing things, and sometimes those can’t be explained or expressed accurately.

While the decision to become a part-time expat is a very personal one, there are some very common reasons that seem to emerge as you talk with people about their decisions. I want to share some of these in this multi-part series on why we choose to live much of our lives in other countries.

Just to set the foundation, Wikipedia defines an expat (short for “expatriate”) as “a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of their citizenship.” While a good number of expats are folks who were transferred by their companies or organizations to work in foreign countries (and chose to have this experience), there are millions who have made the decision deliberately to live outside their citizenship country on their own. Why? What are the reasons people do this? What drives them to leave the country they’ve grown up in, their families and loved ones?

In Part 1 of this series, we look at several of the reasons. These are not in any particular order and the order they are discussed does not indicate their prominence or rank.

Common to nearly all expatriates, part-time or full-time, is a sense of adventure. Many people long to see, learn, and experience the sounds, sights, smells, and delights of other cultures. They want to see this big world we live in. And, at some point in their lives, they come to a point where they can no longer deny or suppress this great desire. The moment comes when they take the leap to live abroad.
In tandem with this sense of adventure are other reasons of more practical natures. Some folks begin living overseas part-time or full-time because they simply want to escape winter. They prefer to spend their time in warm climes where they can be outside every day, enjoy perpetual spring or summer, and participate in sports, leisure activities, and a lifestyle that embraces warmth and sunshine.
Others may live in warm climates, and relocate part-time to escape the heat. During the hottest time of the year in their home country, they will live for three or four months in a cooler place, usually farther north or south, depending on their initial location.

My wife and I have lived overseas full-time for many years, but at this point in our lives, with our children and their spouses nearby, and more importantly, our five grandchildren within a short drive, we chose to divide our time between the United States and Costa Rica because we want to be an integral part of our grandchildren’s lives. We want to be there for games, school programs, birthdays, and the excited call when something truly amazing happens and they want to share it. So, we travel back and forth for weeks or months at a time, spending quality time in both of our homes. It is those grandkids that make us part-time expats rather than full-time.

For others, it’s wanting to be near other family members, perhaps ailing parents, that drives the decision to go part-time.

Don’t let the wonders and challenges of living somewhere you have always dreamed of living pass you by because you think you have reasons that can’t be overcome. It can be done, and done well.

See you soon with more reasons why people choose to enjoy living as part-time expats.


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