Transition – Retirement

The word “transition” keeps popping up in my life. I’ve learned that transition is what life’s all about. Either coping with, surviving or even embracing transitions.

Retirement is another transition and it’s a major one. All of a sudden I have more time available than I previously had. A retired friend once said to me that the problem with retirement was that you were never sure when you were done for the day. I now get his point and that’s why I’m already sending my CV around in search of short term consulting projects. I gotta stay busy to stay healthy.

In the past few months I left the United Arab Emirates and have settled on Amelia Island, in Florida, just north of Jacksonville. Now THAT’S a transition. To say that I miss my friends and colleagues, both expat and nationals, in the UAE would be a gross understatement. However, this is just another challenging transition, from a busy, desert environment to a quiet, near tropical one. Greenery is everywhere and it rains a lot. I even have time to walk in the rain.

A major surprise was the culture shock of returning to the United States after a cumulative time of nearly 40 years living in the Middle East.

It’s shocking how much I don’t know about life here in the USA. My lack of knowledge ranges from self-checkout at the grocery store, to the gas pump at the filling station, to basic names of products and services. After several days with our real estate agent she observed that I am so ignorant of the “how-to’s” one would think that I had spent the last four decades in prison. “Well”, I replied, “If it was a prison it was a hell of a nice one.”

This missive isn’t a pity plea. It’s a heads up to alert expatriates. It’s most likely that you will eventually have to leave your host country; either to return to your home country or to a new one, to which, you can immigrate. Be ready for this transition. As an expatriate you might have more disposable income at the end of the month than you’ve ever had in your life. The temptation to live large is difficult to resist. To not resist that temptation is to put your future in peril in response to the “Siren” call of immediate gratification.

Plan for that important transition called “retirement”. It’s a time to test your wings in areas you’ve never before delved in, but have always wanted to. It’s also a time to continue what you might love to do on a part time basis. Retirement is inevitable if you live long enough.

You’re never too young to start planning and saving for the transition to retirement.