Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Retiring Abroad

Most people enjoy the thrill of adventure and seeing new lands.

I like watching such TV shows as House Hunters International on HGTV. The half hour episodes follow individuals/couples as they relocate to a new country and explore its housing market.

The reasons that people decide to relocate from one region to another are as varied as the people themselves. Sometimes younger couples want the experience of living in a more exciting location. They might be attending graduate school and chose to do so in a new country. Sometimes career opportunities too good to pass up become available. Many couples with children want their families to experience different cultures.

And an increasing number of retirees opt for a life-changing adventure while saving on living expenses.

Lately there has been a lot of information in the media about living abroad. I recently read an article which explored the complexities of such a move. Fueled by the undoing of the world's economy, a large number of ex-patriots ("ex pats") are fleeing their former homes and seeking a new life abroad in retirement.

Yes, its true that many countries offer great opportunities to new residents. Yes, there are many countries in which life is good at a much lower financial strain that the U.S. Yes, there are many countries with pleasant and more consistent weather, a significant draw to many tropical locations.

I have to applaud this sense of adventure. I, too, relocated as I neared retirement. However, I chose to relocate within the U.S., not in the hills of Central America. It's not a bad thing to shake up our lives when the circumstances present themselves… as long as we think the matter through completely.

During the HGTV episodes, there are few references to the actual move to another country. Occasionally, there is mention of pets which may have to be kept in quarantine for a short period before being allowed to join their owners. A few people mention the expense of moving personal possessions to a new country, particularly if there is no other party to pick up the cost. Subjects such as these are certainly factors to consider, but they are not the only possible obstacles.

First, be aware that each country has its own requirements. Because country A has revised its policy regarding household pets does not mean that country B has made the same change.

A move to another country -- without extended family, friends, security, perhaps even with a language barrier -- is not to be entered into lightly. Some of the questions to be considered are the following:

What is the relationship of my former country with this new country? Is this new country American-friendly?

Do I speak the same language as citizens of the new country? If not, can I learn that language? If that is not an option, are there sufficient people who do speak my language?

Am I planning to work after retirement? If so, what is my "work status" in the new country? Will I be allowed to work?

What about my citizenship? Will I be/should I be relinquishing my citizenship? How does the new country view that? What about having dual citizenship?

Will I be getting a pension when I retire? Will that pension income be taxed?

Will I be getting Social Security? The Social Security Administration has a list of countries to which they do not send payments. If you will receive Social Security, this is something you should investigate. This information is at www.travel.state.gov.  In fact, that website contains a wealth of information for anyone thinking about moving out of the country. 

My personal priorities would include a focus on medical care. Health care is a matter that we rarely think about until we need it and sometimes the need occurs unexpectedly. Senior citizens need to know about the availability of medical care. When I read about life in some picturesque, remote location, I automatically wonder about health care. As with other topics, health care varies from country to country but Medicare and many private health insurance policies do not follow you out of the country. Yes, costs are much lower for health care as with other expenses, but you need to check into this before you pack those bags.
*Is health care plentiful to all?
*What about life in a remote location?
*How far is the nearest clinic/hospital?
*Do you have a doctor/health care provider with whom you can communicate easily?

If such a move is tempting, do your homework in advance. Google such topics as "living abroad" and get answers to your questions. Information gathered can at least point you in the right direction.

1 comment:

  1. Recently came across a new retirement site at retirementandgoodliving.com that has information about the top retirement locations abroad for 2013 as well as travel information. Also a good source for retirees for finance, health/exercise and more.