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Too old to live abroad


I'm going to be 34 this year, I don't have a set career, I'm not married, and the only debt I have is student.

I've been traveling on and off the past year and a half (also, for the first time in my life), and have been thinking about living abroad for a year. Specifically Spain. I have gone to different countries, for a few weeks and feel that I need to travel. It feeds me, and I don't feel working a job that only gives me 2 weeks vacation will do anything for me.

I have nothing in the states that is holding me down, except the idea that I'm too old to do it. Another issue is thinking I'm being immature, and should focus on the career I've been trying to get while looking to get married. The thought of, "I should let go of this because I'm not in my 20's" keeps running through my head.

I feel stuck and am reaching out to see if anybody can provide clarity or has actually lived abroad for more than a year.

Anything helps.

Be well, and have safe travels.

Posted by
20 posts

I haven't lived abroad, but I do have the benefit of having turned 50 this year. Honestly, I wish that I would have taken more risks in my 30s. It may feel like it's too late and that the time for doing things like living abroad has passed you by, but it hasn't. 34 is nothing - you have plenty of time. However, if you wait, you may end up with a set career, a spouse, kids, and a mortgage and then it would be much more difficult to decide to live abroad for a year.

I'd say do it now while it's relatively easy - who knows? Maybe you'll decide to stay for more than a year and find a set career and everything else that you are looking for whilst abroad.

Posted by
362 posts

I'm not 20, either, but if I had the opportunity to live abroad for a year? I'd think very seriously about taking the opportunity. If you're worried about being too old now, how will you feel when you're 50, 60, 70, etc., and I should have done that when I had the chance.

To quote a character in TV show (but it's a good quote - really) - There's a huge difference between what we work for and what we live for.

Posted by
4174 posts

When I saw the title of this post I thought you were past retirement age!

I lived in Nuremberg from 1982 to 1985. I was 36 when I moved there for a job with the US Army. I had gone to Europe for 4 months 1977 to 1978, obviously pre-Schengen. I quickly learned that there was no way I could easily get a job there legally, so I went back to the US to work on that. It obviously took awhile to accomplish that goal.

You haven't said what career you want to get, but if you truly love travel as much as you say you do, perhaps you should consider alternatives in the travel or tourism industry. It would be a job and not necessarily a joy all the time, but perhaps one that would be truer to your nature than whatever "grown up" career you think you should have.

People back home thought my job in Germany somehow allowed me to travel all the time. I'd have to remind them that I worked 40 hours a week and had to do all the normal things they did at home. And that I was accruing vacation time just like in a job in the US. However, my schedule was such that I could create 5-day weekends to pop over to Paris or up to the Netherlands, or...

Some people thought I was a little crazy because they couldn't imagine that I would go to a job in Germany without knowing a single soul there.

But I was used to that. People thought I was nuts when I quit my job at the university in 1977 and sold almost everything I owned to generate enough money to make that 4-month trip. Most were so entrenched in their jobs, it was incomprehensible that I'd leave a secure job without going to a better job, much less take off on such an adventure.

I'm sure you realize that you have to jump through lots of hoops to get legal permission to live in Spain for longer than 90 days. And that the chances of getting a legal job there are slim and none, even if you are fluent in Spanish. I'm sure others more knowledgeable about those issues will chime in.

My advice is that in spite of the work you will have to do to accomplish this goal, don't give up on this dream.

Posted by
15678 posts

James hints at the logistical problems. How are you going to get a long-term visa? How are you going to support yourself? How are you going to fund travel? Will you have medical insurance?

My impression is that most people here that have lived abroad either had jobs that took them there, had family connections (there are countries that grant citizenship to people whose recent forebears were citizens), or had a specific skill/profession that was needed. I moved to a country that actively solicited immigration and provided a wide support network (not so much now). I don't know that there are any European countries doing that.

I do know that experienced qualified English teachers can find gigs abroad, but country choices are limited and not European. I met two women in Spain last year who were teaching in Morocco and were able to manage 3-4 day weekends once in a while and some school holidays for European jaunts.

Posted by
35 posts

Thanks guys.

This is all great advice.

I'll look into this.

To answer a few questions... I'm a filmmaker that wants to write and direct. For my debt I'm on a low monthly payment plan that I can manage, even without a job. Lastly, I wouldn't do this till a year from now. I figured by then I would have saved enough money to have a healthy start and have collected enough info. To know what I need to do this.

Posted by
5450 posts

Now you are sounding familiar. Didn't you post a similar question on here already?

Posted by
35 posts

Yes, it was somewhat similar, but I felt I was able to phrase what I felt this time. The last post was more about the logistics. After that post I had more time to reflect giving me more insight on what's best for me on a personal level.

Posted by
5450 posts

Ok, so after reflecting, how do you plan on legally living in Spain for a year?

Posted by
8063 posts

I work in an office where 4 people early 50'S retired because they have pensions after 30 years; that is the better way to have opportunities to live abroad.

Posted by
8644 posts

Not done it, but age and life experience tells me that living anywhere is different than being on vacation there. Money and plenty of it, is the lubricant which lets you do things like that.

Posted by
5059 posts

You appear to march to a different drummer than most. Not saying that's good or bad -- it just appears to be the case. So if all the logistical things can be worked out I'd say go for it. There are many who feel it is ok to regret doing something (within reason) but that it's not ok to have regrets for not doing it. With regard to being "too old", that is just not a valid reason. If travel feeds you then belly up to the table and enjoy. One is never too old to try that which makes them happy. Not trying to be too philosophical, just food for thought.

Posted by
43 posts

Again, thank you to all the replies.

As of now I'm thinking of teaching English. I meet someone this week who introduced me to a English teaching site (that they used for finding a job abroad), and plan on researching that to see how effective it might be. I also want to continue doing more research to see if there is some type of film jobs I maybe able to pursue.

I agree on the money part, but to a certain extent.

Just a reminder, I don't plan on doing this anytime soon. I wanted to take a year (August 2017-August 2018) to save money and to do a lot of research in order to best prepare while getting a stronger idea of what I'm getting myself into.

If there is one thing I learned in my "old age" it's to take everything in small manageable steps, and not to try to do things in one blow. Also, to look before you leap.

Your responses have made me feel better about considering this. The thought of "you might be too old" is washing away any pessimism I had, and making me believe that it is okay for me to do this.

Thank you.

Posted by
11505 posts

I will be playing the part of the curmudgeon---

Travel is more fun and work is depressing? Gee, join the other 99% of us.

Perhaps you should focus 1st on paying off your student loans. I can only speculate, but I suspect they are government loans, that us taxpayers are providing. FYI - "taxpayers" are people who work at ( boring) jobs, pay taxes and get only 2 weeks vacation.

When you are fully self supporting and have no debts, then go chase your dreams.

Another issue is thinking I'm being immature, and should focus on the career I've been trying to get while looking to get married

Agree, you need to mature, and focus on your career BEFORE getting married. Getting married with a debt load and no real career/job is a recipe for disaster.

I hope you will give your situation thoughtful consideration, before choosing a course of action

Good luck!

Posted by
3242 posts

Before fully jumping in and moving; why not house sit overseas for a few months here and there?
That way you can live like a local and see how it's done.
Get a taste of what it might be like before committing to a long term plan.
Try looking at the site

Posted by
15678 posts

Usually, to get a long-term visa, you have to prove to the authorities that you have sufficient means, for instance so you won't be working illegally or become dependent on state aid. The bar isn't how little you think you can get by on, but how much the foreign country thinks is required.

Posted by
33330 posts

I'm confused.

Are tylerdurnden22 who is the OP the same person as george from santa monica, or are there two conversations going on here?

Posted by
35 posts

This deserves clarity.

They're both mine, but one is a Yahoo account.
Some times on my phone when logging in with an email it will go to the George account as opposed to the account that is attached to this thread.

Posted by
7906 posts

Living overseas was very enriching for myself and family members. I lived five years in Saudi Arabia and four in Germany.

However, I had a job working for the US government. If you want to live overseas, that is a wonderful way to go.

Do you have health insurance? How will you finance your stay overseas?

Examine what your real purpose may be for an extended overseas stay. Are you just having fun, putting off having a productive direction in life?

Travel is wonderful and it can enrich like nothing else, but in my opinion, you should focus on your future. You are almost middle age and having a family was probably my most rewarding life role.

Also, you say having a job with only two weeks vacation time offers you little. Clearly, you haven't discovered that happy people are those that find their dream job that they love that also pays them. I had a profession that I loved and got up every morning excited about going to work every day.

Posted by
7050 posts

You are almost middle age

34 is almost "middle age" now? Woa....
A government job is not only hard to come by these days (due to freezes at the Federal level and the perspective of the current administration), but it's not a good fit for someone in a creative field like film making. I agree with others who say focus on landing the career first. It's going to be an unavoidable and hard grind to jump start a creative career, but it won't get any easier if you put it off to travel.

It (travel) feeds me, and I don't feel working a job that only gives
me 2 weeks vacation will do anything for me.

I think this is the issue. You've got a really odd perspective on work. Forget about the vacation time, that's only a side benefit, not the crux...a job will give you pride, skills, confidence, security, money in the bank, a stepping stone for future options, and a realistic perspective on life. Travel will only "feed you" until the money runs out, which will be faster than it seems.

Posted by
32266 posts

tyler / george,

If you're planning to live in Spain for a year, the first thing you'll need to do is apply at the Spanish Embassy for a long term stay Visa. That's the only way you'll legally be allowed to stay past the 90 day Schengen limit. Part of the requirements are that you'll have to prove sufficient income to support yourself for the duration of your stay, and you'll have to provide proof of medical insurance. There may be other requirements.

If you were planning to work for expense money and rent, that will probably be challenging. As I recall, the unemployment rate of people in your age group in Spain is huge, so there's going to be lots of competition for jobs. However you could look into teaching English as that seems to be a route for some people.

Good luck!

Posted by
40 posts

I'm American and have been living in Australia for the past 9 years----best decision I ever made. I was in a similar situation as you...had a steady well paying job but I wasnt fulfilled. I wasnt married, no "real" responsibilities. I quit my job and job to go to, no Aussie insurance, phone or bank account. Only thing I had was a 12 month working holiday visa and about $5k in the bank.

If this is what you want to do, I say go for it. I wouldnt even worry about your school loan...dont make that an exuse not to go. You'e always going to have bills to pay (rent or mortgage, credit card, car, food, utilties) long as its manageable and you can pay your necessities then go live abroad.

Next, I would decide on a country and research what visas are available to you given your age, disposable income and personal circumstances. Every country has diiferent restriction but they will want to know you can support yourself and you have a good character (police checks will most likely be done). The cutoff for a working holiday in Australia was 31 and I came over a few months before my birthday. Im in finance and was able to find contract work with American companies like JP Morgan. I eventually got 4yr work sponsored visas, met and married an Aussie, got a spouse perm visa and just waiting for my citizenship to be approved.

The world has changed in the last 9 years and it might be harder to get visas but dont give up. Generally speaking, Europe might be hard given the refugee crisis and tightening of borders. But dont give up. Hospitality industry might be ok. Ive had friends work at surf shops on Costa Rican beaches, my sister became a certified yoga instructor in India and worked in a hollistic health retreat in Portugal for a year.

I think travel and experiencing different cultures is so rewarding. You'll soon realise that the US has a lot to learn from other countries. I love the US but we can do better in a lot of areas like maternity leave, healthcare etc. People are working themselves to death, afraid to move to a different job in fear of losing health insurance???? Not taking vacation in fear of having their job given to someone else while they're gone??? No thank you. Ive just come back a 4 wk holiday in Europe. Im refreshed and back at work. Now to plan my next trip.

Best of luck to you and happy travels!

Posted by
1 posts

Hello Tyler/George,

Like others, I thought you were retirement aged when I read your topic line. I know you feel otherwise, but 34 is fairly young. I just turned 50 and I'm researching living abroad. But, unlike you, I never felt my age was a factor.

What I find encouraging about your posts is that you are thinking this decision through as opposed to winging my opinion, that IS the mature thing to do. What is mature is realizing what you want to do, figuring out how to do it (responsibly), and having the courage to follow through. Here's the thing: if it doesn't work out, you can always come home. And, big deal if you do. At least you tried it. Here is another thing to consider: you might find the career of your dreams while abroad. Who knows what skill or interest you'll discover and what connections you'll make. Personally, I am incredibly excited for you.

I came very close to moving to Spain when I was about 28. I didn't go through with it because I was offered a solid job in Southern California (where I was living) and took it. I have ALWAYS, ALWAYS regretted that decision. I thought the mature thing to do was to take the job. I didn't get much out of that particular job, but I think I would have gotten a lot out of moving abroad. I certainly would have learned more about myself.

The last thing you should worry about is getting married. Honestly, if you are happy and open, marriage will happen when you least expect it...assuming that's what you still want.

So, in short, GO FOR IT!

Posted by
43 posts


Thank you so much for all the responses. They are very helpful and motivating. I've have already been looking into English teaching programs abroad, and have been very aggressive into looking at effective means of paying of my loans.

With you responses my "issue" went from looking like a mountain to becoming a mole hill. It's going to take work, but I feel my head is in the right mindset to handle the challenge.

Thanks, again.

I'll keep people posted on my progress.

Cheers, and safe travels :)

Posted by
85 posts

I'm going to retire and move overseas in about five years, so you are not too old. For a start, go online and check out International Living, and if you are really brave, Nomad Capitalist. I wish you all the best.

Posted by
14580 posts

No, you are not too old at all to move overseas. My friend in Austria moved over for good as an ex-pat in 2004 when he was 33 or 34. Yes, he was married and his wife was a foreign national, not American. Most likely, that helped too. The best option for you is to get some job that sends you overseas. Indicate to the company you would volunteer for an overseas position, if that makes more marketable. If you have the language skill, all the better. . My friend did in that regard.

Posted by
518 posts

I've got 10 years on you and I thought/felt the same things 10 years ago. I attempted to quit my job and did, successfully so....but, the plans after I left that job were very poorly executed. I wound up just taking a three week vacation and returned hurrying to look for a job (this was right during the recession). So it's good that you're taking a year to prepare both financially, mentally, and logistically. Do as much homework and preparation as possible so that you're fully prepared when you take off.

Logistics and practicalities aside, as longs are your mind is in the right place and your reasons for doing this are sure and real, I say the best of luck to you.

Posted by
3392 posts

Heck...I'm 52 and plan to live overseas. Not in the immediate future - I retire in 8 years - but when I do retire I'm out of here!
You already have lots of good comments on here but I'm going to recommend a Facebook page to you. There's a 50/50 chance you're a female so I'll throw it out to you! It's called Girls Love Travel. There are just over 400,000 members and many of them live overseas or travel full time. There are many posts about all the different ways this can be done while making a living at the same time. If nothing more it's fun to read the posts about everyone's travel and adventures. There is a subgroup page for people who are 35+ years of're almost there but it focuses on those of us who aren't still clubbing and drinking ourselves into oblivion! :) If you have questions about how to live overseas or possibilities as far as work this is the page for you...

Posted by
43 posts


Thanks so much for the responses. They are so motivating.

I can say that I have already started researching how to live abroad, and have been dedicating five minutes a day to this goal. I'm positive those five minutes will turn into more as time goes on, but five minutes is the goal right now.

This is great!!!

Thanks, again.

Posted by
43 posts

Hi Guys,

I wanted to share the progress of my attempting at living aboard.

I has started researching what I need, and how to get a job.

I have also started a group with someone I meet who lived abroad in Bolivia. We're friends now.

So far things have been moving steadily.

I'd like to thank you all again for the advice and encouragement. It has definitely played a big part in helping achieve this new chapter in my life.

Thanks again.

Happy travels.

P.S. I've been researching digital nomads. I plan on putting a post to see if anybody knows or has any ideas about where to start.
I figured why not.

Posted by
420 posts

I went to Japan and taught English when I was 27. Stayed for 2 years. The experience opened a lot of doors for me. But more importantly (and I often think about this) it made me satisfied. I mean I'm happy that I did it when I could. I have a friend that had to decide between getting married and taking a dream intership job in LA. I tried to convince her she could do both--I was married when I went to Japan while my husband stayed in the US and finished his Ph.D. But for her it was a cultural thing and that wasn't an option. Fast forward 20+ years. She loves her husband and kids but there seems to be a part of her that's longing for a life she didn't get to experience. It feels like one of those sad Lifetime movies. So just figure it out and do it. When I was younger I would have thought you irresponsible but I see way to many people today stuck in jobs they hate.

I think that it is because of my Japan experience that my husband and I travel so much with our kids. But only during school holidays of course.

Posted by
11 posts

I'm amazed by the opportunities to work remotely in today's world.

What you might consider doing is study long and hard to develop a skill set that allows you to live and work from anywhere. There are some great companies out there that only hire remote workers. How cool would that be -- you could be "location independent"!

AKA "Digital Nomad" :)

Another way to travel a lot is to do it for your career.
Some things that come to mind, you could be an airline flight attendant or work on a Disney cruise ship :)

Trust me...I've seriously considered this more than once...