Monday, June 7, 2010

Where to retire

At a certain point in our lives, we started to think about where to retire. I was fortunate to have worked for a multinational company and we lived in many countries. The USA, England, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Columbia and Greece, were some of the countries we lived in, so the choice was rather broad. We started by eliminating countries for various reasons, not safe, too cold, didn’t feel comfortable, etc.

The winners were Mexico, Italy, and Greece, countries that answered all or most of our needs. We loved living in those countries, we had made friends there and we loved the food, the lifestyle, the culture, the people and the natural beauty of the landscape. We thought of maybe living in all three, but that just wasn’t practical, nor could we afford it, but it would have been great.

At this point I have to confess something, I am an American of Greek descent, which you already know adnauseum. This was a burden when it came to picking a country to retire in.
Naturally you would think it would tip the scale in favor of Greece, but it also could make you say no way, I know too much about those guys.

Mexico was an early favorite. Close to the States, colorful with a fascinating pre-Colombian history, great pyramid architecture, impressive volcanoes were a part of our landscape, fabulous food, warm people, the Mariachi music, it was a real runner. We lived there 10 years, and loved every minute; we could have easily retired there. The Mexicans say, “ Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States”.

Italy is an amazing country, great food, gorgeous scenery, great taste, people are elegant, sophisticated and stylish, the houses are superb, and the villages are beautiful. So what if the place seems a little nuts and disorganized, but I believe that is an act to discourage people from taking them serious, (helps in negotiations). They are a very cultured and civilized people and charm you with their irreverence. An Italian friend told me that, “the sign of true culture, is not to have a great army, and to be proud of it”. Italy really was a contender, and it came very close to being the place to retire.

All right, why did we end up in Greece? The Greeks say, “ When God was creating Greece, he put all the sunshine, the sea, the fish, the mountains, the great plants, and all this beauty there; then when the Angels asked him, why so much goodness in one place God’s answer was,” not to worry, he would populate it with Greeks”. There you have it, Greeks can be the greatest people in the world, and the worst…many times it’s the same person. This unique characteristic makes living here exiting as well as frustrating, but never boring. I do not have to tell you about the amazing beauty of this place, and the culture that abounds here. So Greece won, but I have to admit, being a Greek played a role. The Greek word NOSTOS came into play. The desire to return to a homeland, even if you were not born there, won out. Are we sorry? Not on your life, we love it; we love these people, this place. Are we frustrated sometimes? You bet we are. Does the bureaucracy make us nuts? You bet it does. Still that all fades away on a breezy summer day as you sit sipping a tall glass of milky Ouzo while picking on a grilled octopus overlooking the remarkable Aegean Sea. Can’t beat that.

A Greek friend visited us when we lived in Mexico and described it as Greece was 50 years ago, but with color. So maybe we got a bit of Mexico, and we are pretty close to Italy. I guess we got what we always wanted, all three.


  1. Greg the quotes added so much more to the article! and I think you and Jeannine did well to retire here. Missing you

  2. Dont you realize that Greece is the same as Brooklyn without the sunshine, sea, mountains, fish and plants. And how could you be living there and exiting at the same time, unless you have discovered a wormhole? Or was it a freudian slip?

    You shold re-hire your proofreader. Seriously, you have created a magnificent retirement for yourself and Greece is better for having you.
    I still don't understand why you didn't consider Coney Islan though.

  3. Your blog is very interesting, good job! I am a new blogger and because of my love for Santorini (a Greek island) I started this blog. Check it out.