I was reflecting this week on the number of my friends and acquaintances who have retired abroad to live out their autumn years in comfort and sunshine.
It’s been quite interesting talking to them all, both new and old friends. This came about because Mrs D and I were having one of those “I wonder what ever happened to…” discussions. Turns out we have friends in the Philippines, New Zealand, France, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Hong Kong, Cyprus and loads of other places mainly, but not all, retired. It’s something that, I must admit, we did consider and then rejected – mainly because New Zealand wouldn’t give as a visa. Bastards!..
Of our retired friends, there seems to be a common thread. Lazy days seem to be spent, as my musical friend Chas C puts it, living “Life in the Slow Lane“. The days seem to drift by in an alcoholic haze. Lying around a swimming pool collecting skin cancers and occasionally rising to punctuate the tedium with food or another round of golf. Most of them seem to die from obesity, boredom, liver failure or cancers of various types – and I’ve seen a few pop off in the last year or two.
The other thing that they all seem to have in common is that they left the UK because of overpopulation – especially citing the rise in immigration. One friend said to me that his home town had been overrun by ‘bloody wogs’ (his expression not mine). Having lambasted the takeover of English towns, the hypocrisy of now living in a village in rural France where 98% of the population is English expats seems entirely lost on him.
The other common factor seems to be that they are all in what I can best describe as property doo-doo. I have a friend in Cyprus who can’t sell his house in the mountains so lives on the coast and rents it out. Another friend wants to offload his original holiday home but nobody wants to buy it at the price he can afford to sell it at – or pretty much any price at all.
These expats (not immigrants please!) have almost all been caught in the overseas property bubble which burst when the Euro went tits up. Many want to come home but can’t sell. They’ll never admit it of course because the truth is that since they stepped off the UK property ladder, prices have risen so much that they can’t afford to come back even if they could find a buyer for their overseas gin palace.
Like many things in my life, I have been extremely fortunate in my choices. I never wanted to retire to Spain or France or Greece or Italy. To each their own, but it’s not for us. And as things have worked out, I don’t regret it for a minute and suspect I’ll live longer as a result…