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We began International Living as a dream. Now it is a reality, not just for us but for thousands of people. I’ve met hundreds of them myself. And never have I met one who regretted it. But let’s back up. When I launched International Living in 1980, I really didn’t know much about living overseas…and barely anything about living at all. I was only 32 years old. What I thought I knew back then came mostly from reading…and from my junior year abroad, which was spent in Paris in 1969.
I founded International Living 30 years ago. What have I learned in three decades? Maybe it’s better to begin with what I haven’t learned.
For the last 50 years, Americans have lived in sunshine. In 1989, our last rival—the communist Soviet Union—decided it was better to join us than to fight us; it decided that it would henceforth neither be communist, nor Soviet, nor a union.
“In what currency do you keep score,” was the question. “I don’t know,” was the answer. We were setting up an account in London. It was meant to be a wealth protection account. That is, we were not really trying to make money; we just want to avoid losing it. The first and most important question came up right away: how can you tell?
When I started International Living nearly three decades ago, two things were obvious: The U.S. dollar was headed down, especially against gold…and there were surely better investment opportunities outside the U.S.
Several things can destroy a marriage. One of them is building a house…another is moving overseas. You can see how that happens. Typically, if you move overseas as a couple, one of you integrates—learns the language, meets new friends, develops a new life, etc.--while your partner may feel left out or left behind. He or she may not like the new situation as much as you do. This can lead to stress for both. My wife...