Many workers have dreams about retiring abroad. If you are one of these workers, you have probably envisioned a vacation-like existence stretching on for decades.
While this could be within your reach, there are a number of practical aspects to retiring abroad you must address before you make the move. Without proper planning, you could end up trapped in an undesirable living situation or forced to move back home.
You will need to consider the quality of life you can expect at your desired destination, including everything from cell phone plans to health care. Some issues may be more pressing than others, depending on your circumstances, and you will need to prioritize accordingly. You will also need to have a well-thought-out plan on how to deal with your finances, including a working knowledge of international banking and transfers. With all of this planned, you can ease your mind as you head off for your retirement adventure.
The first decision to make when retiring abroad will naturally be the country you wish to live in. You may already know your ideal retirement destination, and it may even have been the inspiration for your decision to retire abroad in the first place. However, simply picking a country is not enough. It is very important to do adequate research on your location before making any commitments to move there.
You may want to move to a country with warm weather, for example, and have chosen a place with sunshine and warm breezes all year round. Many warm countries might also experience summer storms, however, or extremely unpleasant heat waves. You may wish to live in the countryside, but the country you move to might only have reasonable services and amenities in urban areas.
Other countries might have universally slow internet, or perhaps a culture you may find difficult to connect with. While it is impossible to find a place that will suit every single one of your desires, you and your partner or family should make a list of non-negotiable items for wherever you choose to retire. You can then use the list to narrow down potential locations. It is also best to go on a long vacation to your destination before committing to a permanent move, in order to get a feel for the country to see if the area suits you. Additionally, you can connect to others who have already made the move to your chosen country by speaking with U.S. expat groups in your retirement destination.
There are a number of finance related topics to consider before you make the decision to retire abroad. To begin with, you will need to consider your financial plan when you are at your destination. If you have a large lump sum of savings, you will need to consider any taxes and fees involved in transferring it to a foreign bank. If you do leave your money in a U.S. institution, you will need to determine a reliable system you can use to obtain the money on a monthly basis. Consider the bank fees, transfer fees and ATM fees involved in spending American money at your destination. You will also need to take the probable exchange rate into account, looking at past trends and future forecasts. Use one of many current currency exchange rate converters for free online.
You may be able to find easy solutions to some of your problems by meeting with a financial advisor before making your move. It is also advisable to find an accountant who has experience in dealing with expatriated taxes and finances. A suitable international credit card can also save you a great deal of money. If you receive Social Security payments, you can have these deposited directly into your foreign account.
Other alterations to your usual financial habits might be renting a property instead of buying one, at least to begin with. Buying a home may be part of your retirement plan, but it can be far too easy to jump into a sale before you have really come to know the area where you will be living. There may also be sellers who wish to take advantage of your newcomer status, trying to convince you to buy first and think later. Renting initially can give you a chance to make a worthwhile, sensible property investment later on.
This is an especially important topic to consider for those about to retire, as you will naturally require reliable health care in years to come. Do some research into the health care systems of the country you are considering as a destination and find out what kind of standards might be offered. You will at the very least want to know you will be able to communicate effectively with any doctor who treats you. Many countries have high-standard hospitals whose doctors can communicate health care needs effectively. Finding such a hospital may be on your list of non-negotiable requirements.
In addition to this, you will no longer be covered by any medical insurance you have in the U.S. Fortunately, health care in many countries is much cheaper than in the U.S. There may even be a universal health care system or a national plan you can buy into. However, you may still need a health insurance policy to help cushion any medical bills.
Moving permanently to a new country requires a great deal more administrative effort than taking a vacation. A tourist visa might last you a few months, but staying long term will require you to obtain residency. Some countries make this easier than others. Try looking for personal accounts of those who have previously tried to move or retire to the same country as you and determine whether the requirements seem manageable. You may need to hire a lawyer once you have arrived in the country to help ease the process. There will be countries who make the move relatively easy, as they hope to attract international retirees. However, you will still need to follow the rules to obtain official residency.
If there are any other restrictions on foreigners, it is best to be well aware of them before you move. For example, some countries make it very difficult to purchase property as a foreigner. If you intend to eventually buy your own home, you might need to have a plan in place, or choose an alternative destination.