Keep Connected but not Attached

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What do you Miss From Your old Country?

Many retirees often find themselves involved in discussions with other expatriates about what do you miss from your old country, or what things do you wish you could get here.  This is natural, even normal and learning about these things can help a potential newcomer to not suffer the loss. The items I hear discussed most often are the following:

  • Entertainment
  • Communication with friends and family
  • I can’t live without it
  • Correspondence

We will discuss each in more detail  below.


Entertainment is a broad topic and we have discussed a number of options here including finding adventure and the fact that retiring in the tropics means different things to different people.

The joy of dancing
Happy Hour
Happy Hour

To many of us finding a place we can go and spend time with the love of our life encapsulates entertainment.

Yet to others the party is at least as important as the quality time with another person.  Going out on a regular basis, meeting and getting to know new people over drinks and snacks counts as a wonderful way to cap off a day.

The all important Happy Hour circuit is critical to know.

Outdoor activities such as horseback riding, tennis, golf, scuba diving, surfing, rafting, rock climbing, hunting and fishing can all be found in many tropical locations and outdoor adventurers have already found most if not all of these.

Ok, some of us are just not that active anymore, so while we may go to an occasional Happy Hour and even fish from time to time we spend most of our time relaxing at home.  Many discover that the type of television and music they enjoyed in their former country simply do not exist from local entertainment providers such as television channels, radio stations or even cable providers.

watching TV
Finally Dancing With the Stars

Faced with this dilemma a few become horrified, but most will find alternative methods to access the elements of the culture they have left behind. We have provided a review of electronics that will bring you the television shows and music people could not find before in the Tropics.

You can take the first steps to reversing your longings to see Dancing With the Stars or hear Mississippi Delta Blues by clicking here.   Be prepared fellow couch potatoes your life is about to get a whole lot better!


After you have settled into your new home and have had an opportunity to meet new friends, explore beautiful new places and eat delicious food that you had never even heard of before, many of us have an epiphany that begins something like this (your results may vary),  Oh my goodness we haven’t spoken with our children since we arrived, or Dang it! yesterday was your brother’s birthday, we should call him, and so you do.

calling home
I am so sorry I have not called

The real epiphany occurs when you get your cell phone bill and you see the $47.00 cost of that 15 minute apology tour for failing to remember to call sooner.  While international landline and cell phone rates have fallen significantly they are still expensive.  That is the bad news.

The good news is internet based telephone systems have almost eliminated overseas long distance telephone charges.  We extensively review a number of less expensive, inexpensive and darn near free options, and you can read about those by clicking here.

I can’t live without it

Everyone has certain things in their lives that they have grown so accustomed to that life would just not be right without them.  Sometimes those things, at least some of them, can be found locally.  Others can be downloaded, but there are some things that just have to be bought online. For those of you who need to get your I can’t live without it items you can get them by clicking here.


With the advent of email, paperless online banking, shopping and

Mail truck
May or may not exist

birthday cards you would think the need for snail mail, except for that annoying junk mail that used to fill your mailbox, would be non existent in these times. Alas, there are always late adopters like the US government Social Security Administration.

Public postal service quality varies greatly around the world and in many areas it simply stinks. To solve this problem people decide that the lack of dependability in foreign public postal services is not acceptable and they opt to purchase private mail forwarding.

UPS is most likely the premiere mail forwarder and they do so through retail franchises serving as the delivery point for the corporate carrier.  Mailboxes Etc. and the UPS Store are two of the UPS subsidiaries that provide a central mail receiving location in the USA and then forward the mail to the individual mailbox lessee.  We personally use this service and find it to be pretty good, but if ordering something online, be sure to keep your tracking number from the shipper.  This has saved us a couple of times when they had “misplaced” our shipment.  They bill using a monthly rate that includes a fixed amount of weight received.  The customer is billed additionally for excess weight.

A Latin American alternative is AeroExpress which is also known as Airboxes Express.  Caution do not use the AirBoxes Express link to start your account, it is not secure, use it for information only, go to an office to register for service.  The main differences between the UPS subsidiaries and Airboxes is areas served with the UPS footprint being worldwide, while Airboxes concentrates on Latin America.  The other difference is how they bill.  As mentioned earlier with UPS you actually rent a mailbox whether you receive mail or not.  With Airboxes you pay no monthly rent, but their cost per weight is significantly higher.  We have not used Airboxes and we have heard both rave reviews and harsh complaints from those who do.

A third option, US Global Mail, is best suited for those who do not do much if any online shopping.  If paid monthly their service costs $15.00 per month and they receive mail in the USA and scan the envelopes and email those to you.  If you desire to read the contents they will scan the contents for an additional charge per page and email those to you as well. Finally they have an additional fee for package reception and forwarding.

In Conclusion

Adapting to a new home can be stressful, regardless of where it is. Adapting to a new home, in a different culture, raises the bar even higher. To assist with this transition we discussed how to find culturally appropriate entertainment from your home country, how to call home for next to nothing, how to get stuff you simply cannot live without and how to receive snail mail from home.  We hope this post is helpful.



If you have any suggestions, ideas and or questions please leave a comment below.




8 thoughts on “Keep Connected but not Attached”

  1. This is a great read, my parents are in their 80’s and they often go back to Samoa which is in the tropics to visit family but especially to remind them and keep connected to their culture something Samoans know very well. I moved back to Samoa after living and educated overseas for over 30 years and coming home was like coming home, extended family and yes can be daunting espeially if you have a young family or just want to retire in a totally different country, i get it and not sure what to do how to cope and how to adapt. Believe me I knowl what thats like.

    1. A very interesting perspective as the post was meant to help non tropics people who retire in the tropics so it was very nice to hear your perspective as well thank you

  2. This is great information. My husband and I dream of traveling or moving to a different country someday.

    I was especially interested in the mail options you explain here. I had not thought about all those considerations! This is really important information for anyone spending time away from the U.S.


    1. Hi Jessica,

      Thank you for the comment, having lived in Panama close to 8 years now I hace seen moves here go smoothly and rough. Two things seem to make a difference, the first and most important is for one spouse to not be in synch with the feelings of his or her partner. I wrote about this a short time ago and if you are interested you can read about it here. The second is the topic of this article you commented on, no matter how much we end up loving our new home, most of us still miss some things from where they moved from – Robert

      1. Thanks Robert,

        Luckily my husband and I are both kind of homebodies but we love adventure and travel so if one of us really wants to go somewhere the other is happy to go along! We recently dove in head first and used my husband’s VA loan to buy an investment property so now we are suddenly living in a 4-plex and renting out the other 3 units. We hope to accumulate several of these and then be able to afford to travel.

  3. Hello here. It is interesting read . It prompts me to think about traveling and see new countries. I miss it so much. I think that we do not need to be afraid of new opportunities, especially if we can live in places there are more comfort and it is cheaper compare with USA. I see that you offer information for people who want to retire abroad.
    In your website great options provided how to be comfortable in a new country without losing completely connections with the rest of family.
    Do you know about Viber service or Google Voice? These services are free and work around world, everywhere where Internet connection is.
    I will check your website again because you never know that the future can offer. Maybe I will land in one country overseas, there summer and sun is all year long. No more of shoveling snow.
    All the best, be healthy and wealthy, Nemira.

    1. Hi Nemira,  I mentioned google telephone service which costs $.01 per minute international, almost free, I had not heard of viber but will check it out. thank you for the heads up.


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