I’m a single, 48-year-old male living in New York City with a full-time job. For years now, I’ve been feeling burned out and would like to try something different with my life. Semiretirement has always been a dream of mine. The thought of exploring new options and working for personal growth and creativity rather than for paychecks brings me joy. Currently, my combined assets may be around $3 million to $3.5 million (savings, investments, and proceeds when I sell my apartment).
Can you recommend cities within the U.S. and abroad where I can stretch my money further? I’d love year-round temperate weather with easy access to culture, food, art, music, and health care. As much as I enjoy city life, sunshine and quick access to nature are important to me. Because I’m a private gay minority man, I prefer a place that’s open-minded. In the past, I’ve thought of Buenos Aires as a possible place.
Good for you for refusing to slog along in a job that’s burning you out! In fact, I was particularly interested in your letter, as figuring out a burnout workaround is probably something more of us should consider: 23% of workers say they are burned out at work always or very often, and another 44% sometimes, a Gallup poll recently found.
What’s more, you have a sizable nest egg and you plan to keep working part time, so there are many compelling options for you to pick from. Buenos Aires, by the way, is one of my personal favorite cities (great restaurants, shopping, music, arts—it’s got so much to offer!) and meets a lot of your criteria; plus, your money will go a long way there. And I have plenty of other ideas for you as well.
It’s hard not to be charmed by this city: “Barcelona is an enchanting seaside city with boundless culture, fabled architecture and a world-class drinking and dining scene,” writes Lonely Planet of the colorful, bohemian Spanish town. And Travel & Leisure gushes: “What city in the world could be more perfect than Barcelona? With its cosmopolitan feel, relaxed pace of life, breathtaking architecture, fantastic gastronomy, and unbeatable climate, it really is the city that has everything,”
The arts scene is notable too (and it goes far deeper than just Gaudi’s influence on the city), and it’s been named one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world and a large minority of the city’s residents are foreign born, so you won’t feel like the only non-Spaniard in town.
What’s more, should you want to get out into nature, you can go to the beach (the city is on the Mediterrean) though the nearby beaches do get crowded. Not to worry though, there are plenty of other options: “When the Catalan capital overwhelms, head for the hills…or mountains, capes and lakes. The diverse landscape surrounding Barcelona offers a wide variety of outdoor activities in a natural setting, not to mention seasonal eats harvested from area forests and farms,” writes travel magazine Afar, which details your options.
Even better: It’s far cheaper to live here than in New York City, by some estimates about 45% less than the Big Apple, and Spain is known as having great health care, especially in its cities. Of course, there are downsides: The city can feel touristy at times, and landing a job here can be tough.
Home to the popular music and film festival South by Southwest and to the well-regarded University of Texas at Austin, “the state’s eclectic and wildly popular capital is a magnet for music, food, and new business,” writes Travel & Leisure. It’s a progressive city (you’ll see plenty of bumper stickers with the popular mantra “Keep Austin Weird”) and the weather is mild most of the year, though summers can be very hot.
Austin is not as cheap as Barcelona—though it is significantly cheaper than New York City—but the job market in this town is good and there’s no income tax, so you should be able to supplement your income relatively easily. Austin also has a number of quality hospitals.
You’ll also enjoy great outdoor options: “You’re in the live music capital of the world, but there is plenty to fill your itinerary between sets. Lace up your sneakers—the best of Austin happens outdoors. Stroll public art installations, revitalized waterside parks, natural swimming holes, and sculpture gardens by day,” writes Conde Nast Traveler.
International Living suggests that this city is an interesting alternative to your beloved Buenos Aires, noting that it offers a “good-value cost of living” as well as beautiful architecture.
“Montevideo is a vibrant, eclectic place with a rich cultural life,” writes Lonely Planet. “Music, theater and the arts are alive and well here—from elegant older theaters and cozy little tango bars to modern beachfront discos—and there’s a strong international flavor, thanks to the many foreign cultural centers and Montevideo’s status as administrative headquarters for Mercosur, South America’s leading trading bloc.”
Your money will go far here too, with a cost of living that’s about half what you’re dealing with in New York. Montevideo also offers a milder climate than New York and many options to get out into nature (it has 14 miles of beaches, according to Travel & Leisure) and take interesting day trips.
Though Montevideo offers you modern perks like good restaurants and shopping, it’s a far cry from busy NYC: “New hotels, cultural spaces, restaurants and a residential building boom have quickened the city’s tranquil pace. Still, the appeal of Montevideo lies not in novelty but in its timeless backdrop of fin-de-siècle architecture, shady plazas and riverside promenades bordered by sandy beaches—places where laid-back residents indulge in life’s simple pleasures,” writes the New York Times.
However, some expats complain about how hard it is to get a job here and unless you speak Spanish, it might be tough for you.
International Living also suggested you might want to look at these places: Merida, Mexico (I wrote about it here) andLisbon, Portugal, which International Living details here.