Are you struggling to decide where to retire? Well, you aren’t alone. Gilen Chan and Gene Preudhomme didn’t know where in the world they wanted to spend their retirement days so they started a podcast, Retire There with Gil & Gene.
Meet Your Podcast Hosts
Gilen Chan and Gene Preudhomme reside in Brooklyn, New York, and like many couples reaching retirement, they were struggling with the idea of what they wanted their retirement life to look like. “We had been discussing retirement for quite some time and the question that repeatedly arose was where would that be? We’ve lived in Brooklyn, New York for many years, but for us, the weather and nature are lacking. The winters and summers have been equally harsh in the last decade or so. We remember years of ‘sweater weather’ but that seems to have waned.
“The annual heat waves make it difficult to partake in outdoor activity. Perhaps we’re less tolerant as we’ve aged. Although there are many beautiful parks in New York City, we would like to be surrounded by nature. In or around New York City, such a home would cost a fortune. In addition, we wish to be in both a less congested and less stressful area, but with diversity. This overall combination is a challenge to find,” said Gene.
Starting A Podcast
The motivation of their podcast was to figure out where they would retire. “We set out to visit places around the country and visit possible retirement locations. We made one trip to Winter Park, Florida, in February 2020, and then COVID arrived; the nation shut down. Gene queried, ‘Why stop our plan, why not interview people who have moved for their retirement?’ That was the birth of the podcast: Retire There with Gil & Gene,” said Gil.
Their first episode aired in November of 2020, and the show is published weekly. They released their 96th episode in early August 2022 and have hosted over 125 guests, with many being couples. Each week, they explore a new potential retirement location. Gil and Gene chat with guests who describe life in their retirement cities. They invited me to be a guest and I was on Episode 76 discussing why we decided to retire in Steilacoom, Washington.
“One listener has called our show ‘a travel podcast in retirement’s clothing.’ We don’t know if that is the case, but we do know that when we travel we are not necessarily interested in the tourist attractions. We like to see how the locals eat, relax and live. We like to think we are bringing that type of excursion to the show”, said Gene.
The Most Intriguing Guests And Retirement Destinations
With over 96 episodes, Gil and Gene have had a few that have really stood out. “We have had so many interesting guests, most of whom we are envious of. It’s like asking to name our favorite child – luckily, we only have one! Although some other guests have had more adventurous retirements, Gene considers Rob and Jeni Evans, of San Jose, Costa Rica, our most intriguing guests due to their attitude.
“Rob and Jeni, from Episode 21 of Retire There, worked hard for years while raising three daughters. They are a kind and generous couple who wish to spend their retirement years enjoying each other and the world, two things they didn’t have the time nor money for when they were younger. As they retired before the age of 65, the high cost of health insurance would have become an issue had they stayed in the U.S. Rob desired to live in Costa Rica but Jeni was unsure.
“To convince his wife of the benefits of living there, Rob sent Jeni to Costa Rica for two months. He paid a female expat, who was an expert on Costa Rica, to live with Jeni and show her the country. Jeni came home enthusiastically wanting to relocate to Costa Rica.
“The couple loves their adopted country, where Rob is known as the ‘bus ninja of Costa Rica,’ due to his extensive knowledge of the country’s bus system. They spend about half the year in Costa Rica, three months visiting their daughters in the U.S. and Canada, and the other three months traveling the globe. Rob and Jeni seem to have found their perfect balance of retirement life,” said Gene.
Gil said, “I found Julie Bradley an intriguing guest. Julie and Glen, her husband, retired in Pine Top, Arizona, our guests in Episode 57. Though the town is not on my list, Julie is an absolutely amazing human being. Not knowing what she wanted to do with her life at the age of 18, she walked her young self to an Army recruiter and signed up!
“The Army tested her skills which demonstrated an ability to learn Russian and assigned her to confidential areas. From there, she excelled and quickly ascended the ranks, ultimately serving in a high-level intelligence position. Julie and her husband are adventurous, fearless human beings — on one of their many journeys, they almost lost their lives at sea while sailing around the globe! They made Pine Top their home base but continue to travel.”
They also noted their most intriguing retirement destination. Gene said, “we have had many, but our number one pick is ShantiNiketan, an active 55+ Indian American community in Tavares, Florida. Iggy Ignatius, our guest from Episode 59, grew up in India, spent all of his working years in the United States, but assumed he would retire back in India. When he finally retired, Iggy learned that his children and grandchildren were not going to leave the States and most of his close friends and family were no longer in India.
“Most of his Indian American retiree friends were in the same boat. He had the innovative idea to build an active 55+ Indian American community in Florida. Unlike many of us who have novel thoughts, Iggy carried his out to fruition. ShantiNiketan differs from other 55+ communities, besides the fact that it primarily consists of Indian Americans, in that it is truly an all-inclusive retirement community. The cost of living there includes two meals per day — most other similar communities do not include food. This truly intrigues Gil, as her dream is to not have to cook and not feel guilty about it.”
Visiting Retirement Destinations Guests Recommended
“Of the places we’ve covered, we have only visited Warwick, Rhode Island, and Wilmington, Delaware, and honestly, we were there to see relatives. Gene is still working and as the podcast began during the pandemic, we weren’t able to travel much. Having said that, we are planning to visit Spain and Portugal and hope to spend time with some of our guests while there,” said Gil.
How To Make A Retirement Decision With So Many Choices
Hosting the podcast has taught Gil and Gene so much about where they want to live in retirement. Most significantly, after speaking to our international guests, they have decided to try spending 3 to 6 months of each year living overseas as traveling is not something they could afford when they were younger.
“We will probably sell our home in Brooklyn and purchase a home in the United States and use it for our base to travel. Our guests have opened our eyes to fascinating venues and evidenced that it’s doable, financially, and psychologically. We now appreciate that you don’t have to be stuck somewhere if it doesn’t suit you — you can get up and go elsewhere! However, we may end up buying a place near relatives, as family is important to us. We can also have them check on our home while we are away!” said Gene.
Retirement Lessons Learned From Guests and Research
Gil and Gene share the most important lessons they’ve learned thus far, no matter where you decide to retire.
- Do your due diligence online. They highly recommend checking out social media. There is no shortage of Facebook groups and Instagram/Twitter hashtags to explore. Use Google Earth to view precisely where you are considering and if it meets your criteria/interests. Research property values and related information through public records.
- Make two lists of your retirement destination: what you want from it, and what you don’t want from it.
- Think long and hard about what makes you passionate during this stage of life and factor that into your retirement destination decision; not everyone aspires to travel the world; many can’t wait to move to a peaceful green environment and take up furniture building or golf all day long.
- If you have a partner, carefully consider their interests, and make the necessary compromises if necessary.
- If you move to another country, remember that you are a guest in that country. Don’t be one of those expats who constantly, bitterly complains about the way things are done differently from where you came from.
- Retirement is a perfect time to try new things. Gil and Gene recommend being “smart but fearless in retirement.”
- Finally, don’t get caught up with the “this is my forever home” mindset — this may psychologically hinder you from stepping outside your comfort zone; if you’ve spent time and money relocating to a place and realize thereafter that you’re unhappy, move! It may not be easy, but figure it out. Avoid dwelling on regrets, you only have one life!
Where To Find The Podcast
You can find Retire There on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. You can also access the podcast from their website, Retire There with Gil & Gene. For any questions or if you’d like to be a guest on the show, you can email Gil and Gene at [email protected]