Who are you?
Hi we are Jane and Duncan, an Australian couple, Co- Founders of To Travel Too, baby boomers, empty nesters traveling the world continuously in transition to retirement. The goal is to travel living like a local on the equivalent of the Australian Couple Pension which is about USD 65/ day. As we travel we wish to inspire others to let go of their fears and to be free.Our Tag lines are “age is no barrier when it comes to travel” and “chase time not money”.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
Duncan has always been a traveler, as a military child he moved every three years to either Europe or Asia. He moved to Australia in the 80’s for a gap year and this is where he met Jane.
Both Jane and Duncan have traveled extensively with their family and have lived longer term in the UK, Singapore and Australia. Shorter term we have lived throughout Central and South America, Europe and Asia.
What challenges did you face during the move?
For each of our overseas experiences the challenge has been letting go. Letting go of the home comforts, the friends, family and the comfort of knowing. Learning new cultures, languages and assimilating in the new country without our preconceived home country ideas were also other challenges we had to overcome.
Are there many other expats in your area?
We have lived short and long term in many countries. Singapore was the longest, a six year period, where the boys attended the International Australian School. Duncan was working in the corporate world managing sales teams across Asia and Jane was running her very successful Feng Shui Consulting business. Singapore is a country with no natural resources other than people, which includes expats.
When we have lived in Central and South America, the time has been much shorter. Our experience has been through house sitting where we were often supporting expats that have moved from their home country, to a lower cost of living, greater lifestyle and improved health care.
These countries have been Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Typically the expats are American or Canadian.
What do you like about life where you are?
Each country that we live either for a short or extended time we like to live like a local. We like to somewhat disconnect from the expats whilst engaging with the expats if that makes sense. We prefer to understand the local environment and then to fold ourselves within it whilst blending also with the expats. We often find that the poorest of countries offer the richest of food, culture and family. We love the simple approach to the daily life that these countries offer. The green markets come to mind; access to fresh food products.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Because we have always been traveling as individuals, then as a family and now as empty nesters we haven’t found much to dislike. That being said we do dislike it when a culture takes a view of an expat as somebody that can be taken advantage of and the flip side to this is we dislike when we observe the expat themselves taking advantage of the local environment. The bureaucracy can be tiresome, however, once we place ourselves in their culture and let go of our western values our opinions settle.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
When we lived in Singapore it was called “101” Asia, very western in its approach to living, very clean, safe, however under its veneer it is truly Asian. It exists around “face” and not losing face in its daily life. It is more about flow, rather than push and time which is of less value, however relationships are valued, respected and take time to foster. When we have lived in South and Central America we have found it a challenge to understand how the bureaucracy works, this is limited by our language and overlaying our home country Australian ways that process works. Once we let go of our preconceived ways that things are done and we seek local knowledge the jigsaw puzzle becomes easier.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Do take the first step. Do not allow your fears to stop you from taking a journey. It is a journey. As a journey it is important to be clear, set goals, why, how, when and what do you need. Do your research based on your goals and needs and be flexible in your choices. Travel to a variety of destinations and experience living like an expat, take your time and don’t burn your bridges to return to your home base.
What are your plans for the future?
We are off to Europe for the remainder of 2016 and we are actively seeking to find an expat life in Spain. We will settle in Barcelona to establish residency and then we plan to travel around Europe, which will include Stockholm where we are attending the TBEX Travel conference. This is followed by a house sitting assignment in France, and then returning to Spain. As we described above it is important to do your research, hence the house sitting assignment in Toulouse, France will help us understand whether France is an expat destination for us to consider. We do have plans to visit Cuba in December before its openness changes the fabric and then to Colombia for three months. The remainder of 2017 will be to explore expat destinations in South, Central America and Europe.
You can keep up to date with the Dempster-Smiths' adventures on their blog, To Travel Too.