Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Opinion: A new life abroad a good option for some Vancouverites March 24, 2015

Have you ever thought about starting a new life somewhere other than Vancouver?

I have been thinking about this after reading so many inane comments from No voters related to the transit referendum and also having recently spent time with two households who have done just that. They have begun new lives in new places.

In one case, a well-established Vancouver couple sold their house and purchased a new home at less than half the price in the south of France. They still maintain a small apartment in downtown Vancouver where they spend half the year. But their hearts are now in France where they are meeting new friends and starting new careers: one as an artist, while the other spends his time at the market, cooking, tending the garden and learning French.

The other individual is a Swiss engineer I met after booking accommodation in a small Riad hotel on the Moroccan coast. After successful engineering-related careers in Switzerland, France and Iran, he and his wife purchased a ruin inside the walled town of Essaouira, which they have beautifully restored into a small, elegant hotel. They live in a comfortable apartment on the first floor surrounded by antique furniture and carpets collected over the years. Each day they greet new guests who, like me, are initially put off by the property’s modest entry at the end of a narrow, crumbling lane, only to discover an exquisitely decorated hotel hidden behind the nondescript door.

When I asked the engineer why he decided to start such a challenging new life, he responded that you don’t start a new life, the life decides for you, provided you are open to new possibilities. He worried that if he stayed at home he would continue to tell the same stories to the same friends until they all died. Now each day is a new adventure filled with new people and many new stories.
When I mentioned to my wife that I was thinking of writing a column about starting a new life, she responded that most of my readers were not likely in a personal or financial position to even contemplate such a thing.

On the contrary, I thought. If they own a home in Vancouver, they are probably in a position to cash out and could afford to live half the year in most places around the world. Of course there will be complications for many when it comes to being with family and certain friends. But then with today’s household demographics and geographic dispersal, many families are already spread around the globe.
 
As my friend in France, whose son lives in Toronto, pointed out, he sees him about as often while living in France as he did when living year round in Vancouver.

As my friend in France, whose son lives in Toronto, pointed out, he sees him about as often while living in France as he did when living year round in Vancouver. Moreover, he now enjoys wonderful times with many Vancouver friends who, like me, come to visit him in France.

One of the other advantages of living in Europe is its accessibility to so many interesting places.
I recently flew from London to Madrid for approximately $35 return. My new French friend thinks nothing of going to Berlin or Barcelona for a weekend. There are some drawbacks. Since he has retired he has to live within a budget, but he’s enjoying that too.  He no longer can buy whatever he wants, but then the cost of living is much lower. He just wishes he had known about the eight per cent property purchase tax before he selected his new home since he had planned to spend that money on a small roadster.

As I reflected on the Swiss engineer and my friend, I also thought about all those people from Asia and elsewhere who are now starting to do the same thing in Vancouver. They too are often leaving jobs, family and friends behind, at least for part of the year, in order to start a new life in Vancouver.
While I suspect many do not yet realize or care how the outcome of the transit referendum might affect them, they are happy to be enjoying Vancouver’s many amenities. Even though they cannot catch a short flight to Hong Kong or Prague for an enjoyable weekend.
It’s something to think about.
- See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/columnists/a-new-life-abroad-a-good-option-for-some-vancouverites-1.1803013#sthash.qLgRZ8qo.dpuf

Have you ever thought about starting a new life somewhere other than Vancouver?
I have been thinking about this after reading so many inane comments from No voters related to the transit referendum and also having recently spent time with two households who have done just that. They have begun new lives in new places.
In one case, a well-established Vancouver couple sold their house and purchased a new home at less than half the price in the south of France. They still maintain a small apartment in downtown Vancouver where they spend half the year.
But their hearts are now in France where they are meeting new friends and starting new careers: one as an artist, while the other spends his time at the market, cooking, tending the garden and learning French.
The other individual is a Swiss engineer I met after booking accommodation in a small Riad hotel on the Moroccan coast
After successful engineering-related careers in Switzerland, France and Iran, he and his wife purchased a ruin inside the walled town of Essaouira, which they have beautifully restored into a small, elegant hotel.
They live in a comfortable apartment on the first floor surrounded by antique furniture and carpets collected over the years. Each day they greet new guests who, like me, are initially put off by the property’s modest entry at the end of a narrow, crumbling lane, only to discover an exquisitely decorated hotel hidden behind the nondescript door.
When I asked the engineer why he decided to start such a challenging new life, he responded that you don’t start a new life, the life decides for you, provided you are open to new possibilities.
He worried that if he stayed at home he would continue to tell the same stories to the same friends until they all died. Now each day is a new adventure filled with new people and many new stories.
When I mentioned to my wife that I was thinking of writing a column about starting a new life, she responded that most of my readers were not likely in a personal or financial position to even contemplate such a thing.
On the contrary, I thought. If they own a home in Vancouver, they are probably in a position to cash out and could afford to live half the year in most places around the world.
Of course there will be complications for many when it comes to being with family and certain friends. But then with today’s household demographics and geographic dispersal, many families are already spread around the globe.
As my friend in France, whose son lives in Toronto, pointed out, he sees him about as often while living in France as he did when living year round in Vancouver.
Moreover, he now enjoys wonderful times with many Vancouver friends who, like me, come to visit him in France.
One of the other advantages of living in Europe is its accessibility to so many interesting places.
I recently flew from London to Madrid for approximately $35 return. My new French friend thinks nothing of going to Berlin or Barcelona for a weekend.
There are some drawbacks. Since he has retired he has to live within a budget, but he’s enjoying that too.
He no longer can buy whatever he wants, but then the cost of living is much lower. He just wishes he had known about the eight per cent property purchase tax before he selected his new home since he had planned to spend that money on a small roadster.
As I reflected on the Swiss engineer and my friend, I also thought about all those people from Asia and elsewhere who are now starting to do the same thing in Vancouver. They too are often leaving jobs, family and friends behind, at least for part of the year, in order to start a new life in Vancouver.
While I suspect many do not yet realize or care how the outcome of the transit referendum might affect them, they are happy to be enjoying Vancouver’s many amenities. Even though they cannot catch a short flight to Hong Kong or Prague for an enjoyable weekend.
It’s something to think about.
- See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/columnists/a-new-life-abroad-a-good-option-for-some-vancouverites-1.1803013#sthash.qLgRZ8qo.dpuf

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