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0980 Retiring Abroad

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 980 – Retiring Abroad.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 980. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast by going to that website. You can also like us on Facebook at facebook.com/eslpod, and why not follow us on Twitter at @eslpod.

This episode is a dialogue between Wanda and George about living in another country after you retire. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Wanda: I just heard the news. You’re moving to McQuillanland?

George: I am. I’ve decided to retire abroad.

Wanda: Why?

George: It makes a lot of sense for people with a fixed income. Social Security will only go so far here, but the cost of living is much lower in other countries, including McQuillanland. I can live it up at a fraction of the cost of living modestly here.

Wanda: But you’re moving away from all of your friends and family.

George: I can stay in touch remotely, and there is an American expat community there so I can make new friends. I am a little worried about learning the language and adjusting to life abroad, but I’ll be living a simpler life there and there’ll be less stress.

Wanda: But sometimes things aren’t so reliable when you live abroad.

George: Like what?

Wanda: I’ve heard that the Internet services can be unreliable and power outages are common in McQuillanland. Are you sure you want to put down stakes in a foreign country?

George: What do I have to lose? I already have my residency visa and a condo on the beach waiting for me. The real question is: when are you going to take the plunge?

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Wanda saying to George, “I just heard the news” – I just received this information. “You’re moving to McQuillanland?” George says, “I am. I’ve decided to retire abroad.” “To retire” (retire) is to stop working, usually later in your life when you already have enough money and you no longer have to work anymore. “Abroad” (abroad) is a term we use to describe other countries – another country, not your own country. If you travel abroad, you go to different countries when you travel. If you retire abroad, you go to live in a different country after you’ve finished your work.

Wanda says, “Why?” George says, “It makes a lot of sense for people with a fixed income.” “It makes a lot of sense” (sense) means it is logical. It is something that seems reasonable. “Fixed income” describes a situation where you only receive a certain amount of money each month, usually because you have retired and are not getting money from a job.

You are instead getting money perhaps from what we would call a “pension” (pension), where a company or the government gives you money every month when you retire, or you have invested money – you have put your money in things like stocks and bonds and other ways of earning money with your money – and are taking money each month from that money you have invested. That’s a “fixed income.” “Fixed” (fixed) means you don’t change it. Once it’s established, once it is determined, it doesn’t change.

“Social Security,” George says, “will only go so far here, but the cost of living is much lower in other countries, including McQuillanland.” “Social Security” is the name of the U.S. government program that gives money to people who are old, who have worked their entire life, and now need money to live on. Social Security also gives money to people who are disabled – that is, they don’t have the full use of their body for some reason, perhaps they have a disease or an illness, and they need help because they can’t work.

Normally, Social Security refers to people who have worked and have given the government money throughout their life, and now get that money or some of that money back from the government. Often it’s more money than they gave to the government. That’s one of the problems with our Social Security system. But, this dialogue is simply saying that the money that a retired person gets from this government program called Social Security will only go so far. That expression, “to only go so far,” means that it is limited. Really, it means it’s not enough. It’s less than what you really need.

George says, “The cost of living is much lower in other countries.” The “cost of living” refers to the amount of money you need to spend each month in order to live. That would include your rent for your apartment, your food, your transportation, your health insurance, your movies, your Coca-Cola – all of these things could be part of your cost of living. George says, “The cost of living is much lower” – is less – “in other countries.” This is something that a lot of American retirees realize, and for that reason they decide to move to another country where it doesn’t cost as much money to live.

The majority of people, of course, don’t move to another country after they retire, but there are some people who decide that this is a good option for them. George says, “I can live it up at a fraction of the cost of living modestly here.” The expression “to live it up” means to live in a very enjoyable and fun way by spending usually lots of money. If you want to go out every night, and have a drink at a bar, and see a movie, and eat at a very nice restaurant, you would need to spend a lot of money, in a city like Los Angeles, to be able to do that.

But if you move to another country where things are cheaper, where the cost of living is lower, you can still have a good time. You can live it up, but not have to pay very much money to do it. The expression “at a fraction (fraction) of the cost” means at a much lower price, much more cheaply. A “fraction” is something like one-half or one-third or one-fifth. It is less than one. So, if it’s at a fraction of the cost, it is at a much lower cost to you.

George says he “can live it up at a fraction of the cost of living modestly here.” So, he’s telling you what cost he’s comparing this to. He’s comparing it to the cost of living it up here in the United States. He says that even living modestly here is more expensive than living it up in another country. “Modestly” (modestly) here means without very much or not very much. “To live modestly” or “to spend modestly” is to use enough money so that you can live, but not live well. You don’t have a nice new car or a beautiful house. You may live in a small apartment with a small car or no car at all. That would be living modestly.

Wanda says, “But you’re moving away from all of your friends and family.” George says, “I can stay in touch” – I can stay in contact with, I can communicate with these people – “remotely, and there is an American expat community there so I can make new friends.” “Remotely” (remotely) means from a faraway place, from a long distance away. We talk about people working “remotely.” That usually means that instead of going to an office building where the company’s headquarters are, they work at their home or in another city.

George says that in McQuillanland, “there is an American expat community.” “Expat” (expat) is a short form of the word “expatriate.” An “expatriate” is a person who lives in another country, often for a long time while working in that country. The person isn’t a visitor. They are living in the country, sometimes to work, but sometimes as what we would call a “retiree” (retiree), which is a person who has retired.

George says, “I am a little worried about learning the language and adjusting to life abroad, but I’ll be living a simpler life and there there’ll be less stress.” “To adjust to something” is to get used to something, to adapt to something, we might say. George is worried about learning the language of McQuillanland and adjusting to life in another country, but he says he’ll be living a simpler life – a less complicated, less stressful life –in McQuillanland.

Wanda says, “But sometimes things aren’t so reliable when you live abroad.” “To be reliable” means you can depend on them. You can count on them. George says, “Like what?” Wanda says, “I’ve heard that the Internet services can be unreliable and power outages are common in McQuillanland.” A “power outage” (outage) is a period of time when you don’t have electricity. In some countries, it may happen that the electricity is only on during certain hours of the day. That would be what Wanda is talking about here.

She says, “Are you sure you want to put down stakes in a foreign country?” The expression “to put down stakes” (stakes) means to select a new place to live, to select a location where you are going to live. When I left Minnesota, I put down stakes in Los Angeles. This is where I decided I was going to live. George says, “What do I have to lose?” This is a common expression meaning there is no bad thing that can happen to me – there’s no negative consequence of doing this.

George says, “I already have my residency visa and a condo on the beach waiting for me.” “Residency” (residency) refers to living permanently in a certain place. A “visa” (visa) here means permission to enter a country and to stay in that country. So, a “residency visa” refers to official permission from the country for you to go and live there. Not all countries, of course, will allow you to come and just live in their country for the rest of your life. But McQuillanland is different. They’ll take anyone who wants to go.

George says he has his “residency visa and a condo on the beach.” A “condo” is a condominium. It’s a kind of apartment that you own instead of rent. Although, you can buy a condominium and then rent it to another person, of course. George says, “The real question is” – the most important question is – “when are you going to take the plunge?” “To take the plunge” (plunge) is to start something that is difficult or challenging, especially if you are unsure about it or nervous about it.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Wanda: I just heard the news. You’re moving to McQuillanland?

George: I am. I’ve decided to retire abroad.

Wanda: Why?

George: It makes a lot of sense for people with a fixed income. Social Security will only go so far here, but the cost of living is much lower in other countries, including McQuillanland. I can live it up at a fraction of the cost of living modestly here.

Wanda: But you’re moving away from all of your friends and family.

George: I can stay in touch remotely, and there is an American expat community there so I can make new friends. I am a little worried about learning the language and adjusting to life abroad, but I’ll be living a simpler life there and there’ll be less stress.

Wanda: But sometimes things aren’t so reliable when you live abroad.

George: Like what?

Wanda: I’ve heard that the Internet services can be unreliable and power outages are common in McQuillanland. Are you sure you want to put down stakes in a foreign country?

George: What do I have to lose? I already have my residency visa and a condo on the beach waiting for me. The real question is: when are you going to take the plunge?

[end of dialogue]

You’ll improve your English in a fraction of the time it takes you to do that somewhere else thanks to the wonderful scripts by our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to retire – to stop working, usually later in life when one already has enough money

* Randall hopes to ride his bike across the country when he retires.

abroad – overseas; in another country

* Would you ever consider working abroad, or do you want to be near your family?

fixed income – a certain amount of money received regularly, when that amount does not change

* Salespeople work on commission and make more when they sell more and less when they sell less, so they never had a fixed income.

Social Security – payments made by the U.S. federal government to the elderly and disabled, as well as young people whose parents have died

* Social Security won’t be enough to cover your expenses in retirement, so it’s important to start saving money in a separate retirement account.

to only go so far – to be limited in scope or power; to not be enough; to be less than the ideal amount

* The landlord’s generosity will only go so far. We have to start paying the rent on time.

cost of living – the amount of money needed to cover one’s basic living expenses during a certain period of time, such as housing, food, and transportation

* The job seems to offer a high salary, but if you factor in the cost of living in New York City, it’s barely enough to survive on.

to live it up – to live in a wild, enjoyable and fun way, especially spending a lot of money, without responsibilities

* We really lived it up as college students, because we knew that once we graduated we’d have to find a job, pay off student loans, and start a family.

at a fraction of the cost – for a much lower price; much less expensively

* At discount stores, you can buy designer clothing at a fraction of the cost of regular retail stores.

modestly – humbly; without too much of something; in moderation

* They live so modestly, most people would never guess they’re millionaires.

remotely – far away; without a direct connection or without direct communication

* Freelancing allows Jimmy to work remotely, so he can travel anywhere but still provide services to his clients.

expat – expatriate; a person who lives in another country, especially a person who is living in another country temporarily while working there

* Local community members dislike the expats, who make a lot more money than they do.

to adjust to – to adapt to; to become accustomed to; to get used to; to become comfortable with some change

* How long did it take you to adjust to the new keyboard?

power outage – a period of time when electricity is unavailable, usually as the results of a storm

* The windstorm knocked down trees and caused power outages all along the east coast.

to put down stakes – to claim a piece of land as one’s new home; to select a new place to live

* We’d love to put down stakes in that part of town, but the homes are too expensive.

residency visa – an official document that allows one to live in another country

* Will you apply for citizenship before your residency visa expires?

to take the plunge – to start or do something that is difficult or challenging, especially if one is nervous about it

* Gregorio has been talking about going back to school for years, but this fall, he’s finally going to take the plunge.

Comprehension Questions
1. Why does George want to retire abroad?
a) Because the weather is better.
b) Because living is less expensive.
c) Because the food tastes better.

2. According to Wanda, what’s one of the problems with living in McQuilland land?
a) The electricity is unreliable.
b) The people want to revolt against the government.
c) There are a lot of diseases.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
fixed

The phrase “fixed income,” in this podcast, means a certain amount of money received regularly, when that amount does not change: “The increase in the cost of gas can be a major problem for people living on a fixed income.” The word “fixed” means steady or unchanging: “Do the taxi drivers charge a fixed fee, or is the price based on how long the ride takes?” A “fixed” dog or cat is a pet that has been neutered or spayed, which involves a surgery so that the animal can no longer reproduce (make and give birth to babies): “The city is trying to control the population of stray dogs by making sure they are all fixed.” Finally, the phrase “to be fixed for (something)” means to have enough of something or to have a certain amount of something: “We’re fixed for food, but please bring some drinks to share.”

to put down stakes

In this podcast, the phrase “to put down stakes” means to claim a piece of land as one’s new home, or to select a new place to live: “They put down stakes here almost 20 years ago, and now their home is worth four times what they paid for it.” The phrase “to pull up stakes” means to give up and leave: “They tried for years to make the business successful, but eventually they realized that it was time to pull up stakes and try something else.” The phrase “to have a stake in (something)” means to have a connection to something and be affected by its outcome: “Our shareholders have a stake in the board’s decisions.” Finally, the phrase “at stake” means at risk, or something that might be destroyed or lost if certain events happen: “Follow the doctor’s advice. Your health is at stake!”

Culture Note
Retiring Abroad

In the past, many Americans “dreamed of” (thought about and hoped for) traveling abroad in their retirement. But “nowadays” (these days; in modern times), many “retirees” (people who have retired) are living overseas, where they can still receive Social Security “benefits” (payments). And many of those retirees are “supplementing” (adding to) their retirement “income” (money received) by using the Internet to work part-time online.

As with anyone who travels abroad, retirees need to consider the weather and the cost of living, but they also have additional concerns. For example, because they want to stay in the country for a longer period of time, they might need to apply for a residency visa rather than just a tourist visa, especially if they want to work in the country. And learning the local language can be a “barrier” (difficulty).

Older retirees also have a lot of concerns about healthcare. As their bodies become more “frail” (weak and fragile), they need to make sure they’ll have access to “specialists” (doctors who practice a particular type of medicine) and treatments, and that the expenses will be covered by the local government or by an insurance policy.

Finally, people who want to retire abroad need to learn about the “tax system” (rules about how much money has to be paid to the government). The United States government might tax income received while living overseas. And the local government might tax Social Security benefits and other “retirement distributions” (amounts paid out of retirement accounts). These tax “considerations” (things to think about) can have important “implications” (meanings) for retirees living on a fixed income.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - a