Crossroads

Will you please believe,
Given all that you see,
I left that body long ago
But somehow nobody knows.

Amy Macdonald

color comp 2A few weeks ago, in anticipation of who knows what, I started paring and trashing.  Clothes that I don’t wear, clothes that were irrevocably stained, or worn beyond even my stingerly ways made it to the trash or giveaway box.  Cosmetics and toiletries that required more time to extract than to use went to the landfill. I’m not a hoarder, I just don’t ever know when I might use that thing again.  There might yet be that event when I can wear that article of clothing. Then there’s my incredible sense of timing where the very next day I need the item given away the previous day.

The next trip north, to take care of a minor physical condition, was scheduled for three weeks from now, but I’ve had to reschedule. Embedded in the trip is a psychological turning point, because the next birthday causes renewal of my driver’s license. The only time I drive a car is when I’m visiting my son and his family – I haven’t owned a car in 25 years and haven’t rented one in more than five. I no longer live in the state that issued the license and I’ll have to appear in person to renew it. Because I currently have no legal address in the U.S. and can’t prove residency anywhere, it could be problematic to obtain a license.

Residency in another country?

Any number of websites offer suggestions to the would-be retiree expatriate.  Some ask if you’ll have enough money for living expenses overseas. Some tell you about the house in Shangri-La and how affordable it is. Some tell you how inexpensive food or dining out or beer or wine can be. Few offer realistic advice, and the best I’ve found is from the blog Tales from Expatria. Its author, Virginia Proud, suggests you ask yourself these five questions (which she details on her blog):

  • Where can I legally reside?
  • Can I communicate?
  • What will I eat?
  • How will I spend my (spare) time?
  • How will I get around?

These questions are more complex than they appear as many questions are nested within each.  One might have a right to move to a country based on nationality and citizenship, but quotas may already have been met for the year or you might not have enough savings or your annual income might not be sufficient to qualify for a visa and/or residence permit.

There are corollary questions, such as can you deal with the bureaucracy? Even in one’s home country one complains about the DMV or some such organization; you’re likely to be more frustrated when you encounter unfamiliar regulations, especially if you’re not fluent in the local language. If you’re just tra-la-laing around the world this isn’t much of an issue, but if you’re settling in for the long term, it could be.  There are innumerable situations where step A is required before step B can be completed, but you can only obtain the document for step A if you’ve already performed step B.

If one want to reside long term in one of the countries covered by the Schengen Agreement (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the European Union countries [except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom]) one has to have sufficient international health insurance to satisfy that nation’s requirements. You may want to check into refilling prescriptions: is it easy-peasy like in Mexico (for many medicines) or is it difficult and time-consuming as in Hungary? In some it’s a challenge to buy aspirin.

Many insurance policies include coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. As a retiree with a milestone birthday approaching, that last benefit started me thinking. Every nation – in many countries it’s each state or province – has its own requirements regarding disposal of one’s remains. Regulations govern embalming, cremation (some countries don’t allow cremation), the type of coffin, the time period before burial or repatriation, etc. So one asks oneself, what do I want done with mine?

Some locations, such as San Miguel (24 Hour Association), have an organization that works with local authorities and funeral directors to facilitate burial or cremation outside of one’s home country according to one’s instructions.

C, whom I saw in the Jardin yesterday, is a trader: she could easily survive among bedouins and gypsies. I could see excitement in her eyes and animation in her body when I mentioned how my things in storage surround my thinking. She would so love to set down a rug and start selling.  I could tell she was writing garage sale ads in her head when she noticed my slumping into the bench and said, “selling doesn’t appeal to you, does it?” At the time I was thinking about moving to rust-belt cities that ring the Great Lakes.

Calvin Russel, Crossroad

 

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