So, we had been living abroad for about six years when we decided that it was really time to start thinking, and I stress the THINKING part, about buying a ‘forever’ home to retire to.
We talked about it over many bottles of wine, not all on the same night I feel I should point out, but you understand what I mean. It’s now four years later, and we have just made our final decision.
It’s an important thing to be considering, this place to lay your hat. A lot of factors need to be evaluated and eliminated. We started with a wish list each and a list of things we absolutely did not want. And this was only on the style of house; we hadn’t even started on the location.
Now, my husband and I are very different people. We like completely different styles which can make things ‘interesting’ at times. Many a discussion (lively) ensued as to size of house, number of rooms, style of house, size of gardens etc. He wanted at least 5 bedrooms because… well, who knows why really, but I’m sure it made sense to him. I wanted something smaller so we wouldn’t have to entertain all of the family at our expense; he would like a big garden so he can walk around his ‘estate’ as he likes to call it. I must be honest and say I couldn’t care less really; I have hay fever, regardless of the size of the garden. In his infinite wisdom my husband seems to think grand, tall ceilings, swooping entrance ways and staircases with imposing windows are this side of heavenly. I, on the other hand, can only see the expense of keeping that kind of thing clean, because it sure as heck isn’t going to be me doing it. The only tangible thing we had in common was our desire to never to return to the U.K. So, as you can imagine, it has been tremendous fun so far.
Actually, the real fun started when we had to choose a country. We literally stood in front of the world map that we had on our office wall and went through all of the countries we could pronounce. We eliminated the ones that were war-torn, the ones that were potential areas of conflict; because let’s be honest here, why put yourself in the way of destruction and mayhem? I can cause enough of that all on my own! Then we eliminated all the countries that didn’t have English as at least a second language; after all, we will be retiring there – who can be bothered to learn another language in their sixties? This process did severely limit our choices,it must be said. However, we were not to be deterred! We would find the perfect location.
Morocco of splendid architecture:
First up was Morocco. Beautiful architecture that we both could agree on, that’s our thing – architecture – we both look at the buildings not at the ground… makes for some interesting walks, it must be said. Plus, we’ve lived in the Arab world for six years now so it’s a comfortable environment for us. Not to mention the food, which is delicious, so what could go wrong? Well actually, a bit more than we thought. The ‘Arab Spring’ happened. Morocco became not such a safe place to live. Mind you, the house prices did dip considerably; however, that didn’t make us feel better. Back to the drawing board.
France with a beautiful countryside:
France was the next in line. We flirted with the idea for a few days, not to mention sunny Spain. But really, neither of us likes French food too much and we couldn’t bear the idea of living in a ‘Costa del’ anything.
South Africa, breathtaking:
We then went to South Africa to have a look, after working with tons of South Africans and hearing all of their stories of food, wine, views, weather and house prices. We went for one month and completely fell in love with the Western Cape. This was it! Finally somewhere that was beautiful, breathtakingly so in some areas. And the house sizes and prices were SO good. We could almost be literal lords of the manor on sweeping estates of vast never-endingness for the price of a small two-bed terraced in the U.K. But then reality struck us, unfortunately, medical insurance not being the least of that reality. It was not going to be cheap in any way, shape or form. Now, neither of us is unhealthy, however this was to be a retirement home,and retirement implies getting older. So obviously with age comes problems and well, you just know it’s not going to be a cheap problem or two,don’t you?
Back to the drawing board again, or should I be saying Map?
We have finally settled on Cyprus. And it’s rather an odd thing. I personally never thought I would like to end up in a true English expat community. But it would seem that that’s what’s going to happen. We actually got married in Cyprus, a lifetime ago, so it does kind of feel right. The house prices aren’t particularly great, not that much less than the U.K., really. However the weather is great and the country is very nice. Also the expat communities are actually, when we sat down and really thought about retirement, exactly what we want. We want to be where we can meet with people and talk and have coffees etc. We want to be with people who don’t have young kids and who just want to be in the sun warming their aging bones. Another very important factor is that we want to be in the Eurozone for that all-important medical care!
So, Cyprus it is! It’s taken a very long time. We went all around the map to get here, but here we are. We are actively looking online and emailing agents in Cyprus to find the ideal place. This is a much simpler process than I thought it would be. The agents are very eager to help; and we all know that’s not because they are wonderful people – they just want the commission. We are planning to go and actually put down our hard-earned cash very soon.
And to be very honest, now that it’s decided, I can’t wait.