Retiring abroad is becoming a very prevalent trend as baby boomers start looking at the next phase of their lives. Many retirees are interested in living overseas in beautiful and exciting places, exploring new horizons, learning new languages and getting immersed in other cultures. Besides, as many places around the world have a significantly lower cost of living than western countries, overseas retirement can be a way to stretch those retirement dollars further while enjoying a great quality of life.
Of course, planning to retire abroad is a major life decision, and not one to be taken lightly. Although the process of spending your days in a tropical paradise might sound alluring, there are also many challenges that people encounter when retiring overseas to a completely different place and culture than the one they are accustomed to. We hear of people moving abroad only to get disillusioned after a few months of overseas retirement. Some even end up losing a significant chunk of their life savings, rather than saving a bundle as they had anticipated. How do you know if retiring abroad is the right step for you? Some things to think about:
Do you enjoy traveling to unfamiliar places and experiencing different cultures? Overseas retirees tend to be a somewhat adventurous bunch who thrive on novel experiences. If you are not that kind of person, you might want to think twice about living overseas. Or at least, you might consider going on an extended vacation to the place where you are thinking of retiring, so that you can see if you would want to settle there permanently.
Will you be okay living far away from your friends and loved ones? For some people, putting some distance between themselves and their family might be part of the allure, but others might feel terribly isolated. Unless you are quite well off, it is probably not practical to jump on a plane any time you want to visit your family and friends back home. By the same token, your loved ones will probably some to visit you far less often (and maybe this is just fine by you!).
Another important consideration is health care. Although nowadays many countries offer world-class medical facilities, and in fact you might save a bundle on quality health care in some places, this is not always true. You should consider what kind of medical facilities you will have ready access to, especially if you suffer from some chronic conditions that need regular care.
You also need to consider banking facilities in your country of residence. You would want to have ready access to your social security and retirement funds. If you retire to an idyllic but remote location, it might be difficult to easily access your funds back home. Transaction fees for transferring money to foreign banks, and for using foreign ATMs, can also add up quickly.
None of this should dissuade you from pursuing your dreams of overseas retirement. After all, many people are living happy, fulfilling and exciting retirements in beautiful and exotic places around the world. There is no reason you cannot join their ranks. But keeping some of the above considerations in mind will help you find an overseas retirement destination that really suits your needs, and minimize any unwelcome surprises. Bon voyage!