MAYA (65)

From Estonia

Number of winters living abroad: 2


I raised four children, the youngest is twenty-eight. Back in Estonia I owned and worked in a private kindergarten for twenty-four years. My work was intense and stressful work and personal life simultaneously. I felt exhausted and tired, so decided it was time to focus on myself. I sold the house, bought a small apartment near Tallinn and a caravan. On the weekends I would spend time in the woods in my caravan.

After retirement, a friend suggested to go somewhere with a warmer climate. So, I searched “A warm place for the winter” on Google. I found an article written by a couple from Estonia about a campsite in Spain, where you can stay the whole winter. This was it! 4000 km from Estonia, travelling on less than ideal roads, but I did it! I met the authors of the article and we have now become close friends. Unfortunately, this winter, the wind tore down the tent that was attached to the side of the camper. So, I had to move to the bungalow mid-season.

There are a lot of activities here. I attend dance classes from Mondays to Thursdays. On Thursdays I go to karaoke, my friends sing. There are parties on Fridays, live music on Saturdays, and a German disco and sauna on Sundays. I walk 10,000 steps a day with walking sticks. Food in Spain is very fresh and delicious. The sun is always out, and the sky is blue pretty much all of the time.

Society says you must save money, pay off your loans, raise children and save a lot of money for old age. When I was thirty, I thought I’d help my kids retire. But my children have money, they have children of their own, their separate lives. So now they just get to enjoy a happy mom. Now I’m not afraid to put myself first, I’m not afraid to be happy.


I think I have a plan for the way I want to live my life until the end - eight months in Spain and four in Estonia with my grandchildren. I really like this way of life because for the first time in my life I can ask myself every morning, “Maya, what would you like to do today?” And I can realize what I plan. My whole life was dedicated to my children and my work. Finally, I have time for myself. I realized that living in the camp changed my outlook on life.

Although I don’t have a partner, I don't feel lonely. I don’t feel lonely among like-minded people. I think sometimes, people living with a partner might feel lonelier than those living alone. I am sixty-five, I'm not in a rush to get anywhere, I can enjoy a two-hour coffee in the morning. I feel full of strength and youth.

I think older people need to relax and tell themselves: That’s it. I need to rest. This is a decision they need to make themselves. And then they need to follow through. Until a decision is made, you think, you worry about everything – but once you’ve decided to slow down and relax a lot of the worries simply disappear. Back in Estonia, friends ask, “What are you doing over there in Spain?” and I answer simply: we just live.”