Every once in a while someone comes up with an idea so brilliant yet so obvious (once I hear it) that I am amazed and chagrined I didn’t think of it myself. Dreaming of retirement and struggling to decide where to go, New York lawyers Gilen Chan and Gene Preudhomme were just getting serious about their research when the pandemic hit. “Gene thought ‘If we can’t visit places, why not let the places visit us?’” recalled Gil. “And the idea of a podcast about retirement cities was born.”
“I have always thought Gil had a voice and presence for radio,” says Gene. “Beginning several years ago, we started considering where we might retire. Once Covid hit, I had the idea of Gil hosting a podcast about places to retire. Although I have the face but not the voice for radio, Gil insisted that she would not do it alone. So here we are.”
They spent the summer of 2020 developing plans for their weekly podcast, Retire There with Gil and Gene. When it launched in November 2020 it focused on domestic locations, but gradually they began adding international guests, and this week's interview is with (drumroll please!) Karen and Rich McCann.
When they approached me about the interview, I thought, “Spend time talking about how great it was to move to Seville? I can do that for hours. Just ask any of my friends, relatives, or bartenders!” Rich thought it sounded like fun, and soon we found ourselves in a long Zoom call with Gil and Gene, chatting like old friends.
Click here to listen to the podcast, Retiring in Seville, Spain with Karen and Rich McCann.
Afterwards, I asked if doing dozens of interviews has helped them narrow down their own list. Gil admitted they are no clearer about their dream destination than when they started. In fact, “This information overload has made our relocation decision more difficult.”
“We have conducted over thirty-five interviews and many of the locations sound great,” added Gene. “However, I am hoping that once we hear about the place for us, it will be obvious and beyond exciting. Like the first time I met Gil, I knew she was the one.”
I asked what helps people find the right spot. “First, do your research, carefully,” said Gil. “Second, test-drive the location for at least a month, if possible. Third, do not feel trapped! You can always move again if this place did not turn out to be what you envisioned.”
What are the biggest worries about retirement? “Finance is, by far, the number one concern,” Gene said. For those trying to figure out how far your money will go, “Some helpful sources include Market Watch, US News & World Report, International Living, blogs, social media blogs, such as Facebook’s group titled “Where to Retire,” etc.”
Future retirees, said Gil, have to ask themselves plenty of practical questions. “Do they have enough to live on? Have they saved enough? Can they afford to retire before becoming eligible for Social Security? If they retire before becoming Medicare-eligible, and their former employers do not provide healthcare insurance for the gap years, do they have enough funds to remain in their current location? Some of our guests lived in areas they could afford while they were employed but not after. This last issue is what prompts many people to move abroad. The options of living in foreign countries are endless! And attractive!”
(I should mention that Medicare doesn’t cover you when you’re abroad; you’ll need some other insurance. Luckily international policies tend to be far less expensive than American equivalents.)
“Beyond money,” said Gene, “the concerns run the gamut. Some people are greatly concerned about healthcare, while others say they are in great physical condition and healthcare played no part in deciding where to retire. Politics have been of great concern for many of our guests. Some will only live in a blue state, while others will only live in a red state. Some want a variety of outdoor activities and arts, others will only live in any area where it will be convenient for them to play golf every day.”
Selecting the venue is the toughest thing to get right, notes Gil. “There are an overwhelming number of places with which to choose and if you factor in other criteria, such as the importance of being near family, it changes your options. One may find their fantasy location to be Portugal, but if that hinders your ability to see family more than once or twice a year, you may need to re-order your wish list. Expect to make compromises.”
When asked how couples can navigate disagreements, Gene said, “Surprisingly, most did not seem to have major disagreements. For many of our guests, retirement calmed them. After retirement, they were less likely to start arguments and a number of guests lost significant amounts of weight.”
“Retirement is a significant event in and of itself,” Gil pointed out, “and retiring elsewhere is another enormous act. The best advice we’ve heard on the issue is this: couples need to recognize that their lives may markedly change at this point, i.e., a spouse who always worked outside the home may develop new habits post retirement that may surprise or annoy the other person. Recognize and acclimate yourselves to this new life. Make sure both parties find things they like in the new venue.”
Gil and Gene don’t seem too worried about disagreements arising over their own retirement. “In general, we are similarly minded, in that we share the same values,” said Gil. “We respect and enjoy each other’s company. The podcast has solidified our decision to relocate after retirement. It would be foolish to stay in NYC when the dollar will go sooooo much further elsewhere, allowing us to live the way we’ve dreamed.”
“We want a less congested place where we can enjoy nature,” added Gene. “We love New York City and its people, some of them, but the world is large and we seek to enjoy more of it.”
Just thinking about retirement opened up whole new worlds to Gil and Gene. “The podcast has been a godsend, an absolute brilliant surprise, thanks to Gene,” said Gil. “We have been in our professional legal careers for over 25 years and it has created new excitement and unexpected, intellectually satisfying achievements. We are producing a show! Who knew?”
By the end of our conversation, Rich and I were inviting Gil and Gene to come see us in Seville before they make any final decisions about their own retirement. They would be a welcome addition to the city’s expat community and fit right into the vibrant social life that’s such an integral part of Spanish culture. But whatever their final destination may be, we can all be grateful that for now they are providing future retirees with practical ideas about hitting the reset button on their lives and having a grand time doing it.
OFF WE GO
This week Rich and I are heading to a family reunion in the mountains and will be staying in a cabin that's off the grid — meaning no electricity, phone service, TV, or wifi, although there is a generator and indoor plumbing. The owners keep reminding us to bring insect repellant. You'll hear more about all this in my next post. Just wanted you to know why we'll be off email and social media for a bit.
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I'm an American travel writer based in Spain and currently living in California.
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