Why are we here? Is a question we often get asked by both Europeans and Africans. Our answer is the same to both – we like it here.
A few years ago I was offered voluntary redundancy and jumped at the chance. The lump sum would pay off the mortgage and fund some exotic holidays and a chance to draw my pension early was not to be sneezed at. After all, I’d waltz into another job, wouldn’t I? As anyone who is over 50 and out of work will tell you, no I didn’t. Employers are extremely prejudiced against older people and in two years of serious job hunting I only had 3 interviews. An in-depth review of our finances showed that my pension was covering our day-to-day living expenses and Carol was working her fingers to the bone to pay the Council Tax and heating bills. If we could avoid those then we could enjoy life together. A look around the world gave us some ideas; Australia and New Zealand were too far, America is too expensive, so southern Europe looked favourite but a trip to the Algarve in November showed us that even Portugal can be cold in winter. We had been to The Gambia several times on holiday and fell in love with the country on our first visit. We did some research and found that foreigners were welcome and that getting a residency permit was a straightforward procedure. We already knew that the cost of living was low, there are supermarkets that stock everything we could want and there was good quality housing available for reasonable prices.
So here we are; a pleasant climate, an affordable cost of living, friendly natives, a stable government and only 6 hours from Gatwick. Sometimes we sit at the beach bar and wonder where it all went wrong!