Well, here it is again. Known mostly for the American tax filing deadline, April 15th isn’t celebrated as the happiest day on the calendar but it is my birthday which gives me an opportunity to reflect on an exciting event filled year. Exactly one year ago, I turned age 50. Aside from the usual fanfare associated with milestones, it also marked the day Diane and I became eligible applicants for MM2H, the Malaysian Social Visit Pass that’s allowed us to live in Southeast Asia and begin our experiment in overseas early retirement. Almost a year later it’s been an interesting ride to say the least. Arriving with only four bags of clothes and some U.S. cash, we ventured into a place we’d never even visited and successfully negotiated our way through various hurdles including opening a bank account, finding a good property agent, signing a two-year lease in a luxury condo and setting up necessities like data plans, utilities and water delivery (very important in the tropics). Coincidentally, the blog enjoyed its best day of views ever on my 50th birthday thanks to a plug from a WordPress “Hot Off The Press” article about expats that I wasn’t aware of and it capped off the day perfectly.
Comparing last year to this one, it feels like we’re living in a different world. Although we stay very connected to the San Francisco bay Area through internet radio and streaming local news on the Ipads, we’ve grown accustomed to local issues like burning garbage, an annual haze event that affects 70 million people and the worst motorbike drivers on the planet. Trading two-hour commutes and high prices for two dollar lunches, leisurely strolls on the beach and three-week trips to places like Thailand and Australia, life became much more interesting when we left America. Unfortunately, one thing never changes. Rewarded for the privilege of U.S. citizenship by a superpower government designed to keep things as they are for the elites and a handful of banks, corporations and billionaires, the curse of April 15th follows you everywhere you move on earth and the first tax year as an expat becomes an enormous pain in the ass if you’re not ready. Fortunately, we’ve already been through this once as American expats in Canada expats so we already knew what to expect.