The Life Cycle (Part-Time Expat Version)

The lifestyle of the part-time expat is a continuous cycle.  We just spent 2+ months in Costa Rica.  Now we are back in Indiana for seven weeks for the holidays and to enjoy our family.  We’ll return to Costa Rica in February, and the cycle will continue at various intervals throughout the year.


We live in two different worlds in this  cycle.  Oh yes, we still breathe, sleep, eat, brush our teeth, exercise, work, relate to family and friends, worship, and watch Friends in both places.  But so many things about life in the two places are not the same.  and the keys to getting the most out of this lifestyle are actually simple.  The two places we live our lives are very different, and perhaps the following ideas will be of help if you are considering the part-time expat life.


First, enjoy and live in the moment.  We hear this a lot. And it’s so true.

Whether I’m walking the beach in Costa Rica or scraping ice off my windshield in Indiana;

Whether I’m walking in the Indiana woods on a cold sunny day or dripping with sweat as I walk home with groceries in hand in Costa Rica;

Whether I’m eating rice and beans or whether I’m eating Indiana corn on the cob;

Whether I’m picking up sea glass on the beach or whether I’m marveling at the beautiful lakeside view in Indiana;

Whether I’m holding my grandkids in my arms or whether I’m chatting with them on video call;




If I don’t decide to enjoy it all, I deprive myself of a lot of smiles, happiness, and wonder.  Sometimes I can block out the beauty of the present moment by focusing on another time or place, another concern, or another person.  And while I’m off somewhere else in my mind, I miss out on the details, the people, the laughs, and the joys of engagement at that moment.  They are lost to me.  Wherever I am, I’m happier if I give attention to the place and activity of the present.



Second, I have also found it good to have similar routines in both places.  As you move from one location to the other, your routines follow you.  They help you transition mentally and emotionally.  They ground you to your life rather than a place.


Third, determine to enjoy both parts of your life.  Look for the positive in your life in both places.  What you focus on will expand, so if you moan and groan about being one place or another, then your unhappiness will only expand. If you focus on what is good, what is positive, what is enjoyable, then those things will expand in your mind.

Fourth, jump right into life wherever you are.  Engage with people, plan social activities, pursue your interests, find ways to serve, find a new place to worship and be inspired, take care of your health, etc.  Move into and out of each cycle of your expat lifestyle with intention and anticipation.  Don’t hide yourself in your shell like a turtle does sometimes . . . walk right into each life cycle with your head out and up, and your feet moving forward.


These are just a few things that might be helpful as you make transitions in the part-time expat lifestyle – or any other time life takes new turns.  I’d be interesting in hearing some of the tools that help you make transitions.


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4 thoughts on “The Life Cycle (Part-Time Expat Version)”

  1. Great post and advice no matter what stage of life we are in! Before my husband and I moved to Costa Rica, (over 10 years ago) we committed to each other that we would ‘love our new country no matter what’ for one year. Anyone can do anything for one year – right? So, no matter what came our way, our words were going to be that we loved it. We did our best to match our attitudes. Some days were more of a challenge than others, but typically we both weren’t having a ‘challenge’ at the same time. So the other was always there to help encourage the one who had hit the wall, so to speak. After a year, we found that we had both developed habits of gratitude that have lasted throughout the years. No place is perfect. No one’s life is perfect, but our attitude sure can make or break a day!

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