An increasing number of older Americans is downsizing – selling their house and purging their belongings – and hitting the road, traveling and sightseeing abroad.
According to The New York Times, the international nomadic lifestyle is gaining in popularity with retirees. In 1993, 9.7 percent of all retirees were traveling abroad. In 2012 that percentage swelled to 13 percent, the Times said.
About 360,000 Americans received Social Security benefits at foreign addresses in 2013, about 48 percent more than 10 years earlier. An informal survey of insurance brokers found greater demand by older clients for travel medical policies. (Medicare, with a few exceptions, does not cover expenses outside the United States). While many retirees ultimately return home or become expatriates, some live like vagabonds.
Lynne Martin, a 73-year-old retiree and author of “Home Sweet Anywhere,” lives the nomadic lifestyle with her husband, Tim. In an article she contributed to The Huffington Post, Martin said they sold their California home and most of their belongings, put their prized possessions in a small storage unit, and hit the road. Martin said they’ve traveled across the globe, staying in temporary homes for a couple of weeks to a few months at a time.
When people ask how we can afford such a lifestyle, we explain that our formula isn’t calculus, it’s just arithmetic. We traded the amount of money we were spending to maintain our California lifestyle for a new style — on the road. When we calculated the mortgage, property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities and all the rest required to maintain our permanent home, we saw immediately how that could be translated into an international life on the road, and we acted upon it.
I can understand the appeal of traveling abroad as a retiree. I’ve always wanted to travel. But I didn’t have the money when I was younger, and now that my husband and I are living more comfortably, we have small children who keep us pretty close to home. Plus, any extra money we have goes into their college savings accounts.
I do think it would be difficult to live without a home base. But who knows? Maybe we’ll spend our retirement traveling. Better late than never, right?
How do you want to spend your retirement years? Does an international nomadic lifestyle appeal to you? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.