The internet is brimming with articles on how cheap and easy it is to retire overseas. They show sunny days, sandy beaches, and imply you’ll be able to stretch your retirement dollars much further than if you stayed home in the United States. If you’re tempted to pack up and move, first consider these six points to research before you make your decision.
- The Forecast
I’m not talking about the weather. That’s probably one of the first things that got you dreaming about an overseas retirement. No, I’m referring to the political forecast. What’s the government like in your new country? Is it stable? Check out their history and learn about their leaders.
- The Money
How stable is the currency of the country you’re considering? Check it over the past few years. Have there been extreme highs and lows? This will affect how much you get each time you transfer dollars. So unless you want to deal with a volatile income, be sure the exchange rate has been relatively even.
Research the quality of healthcare in your dream country. Check out the hospitals, and find out how much training is required by the doctors. If you’re happy with what you find, what insurance do you need to cover healthcare costs? And with that in mind, when you’re tempted to buy or rent a quaint cottage in the mountains, consider how long it will take an ambulance to get to your remote location in an emergency.
Will you need to learn the language? Or are there enough ex-pats in the city you like that it won’t be necessary? Should you take classes ahead of time or look for a tutor?
Each country has different visa requirements for long-staying visitors. Some require you to leave every 90 days, while others will allow you to stay for 6 months or even a year. Almost every country will require proof of a certain level of income if you intend to stay long term. Make sure you know, understand, and can live with the requirements.
Consider not only the cost to bop home to see the grandkids but also your local transportation. Will you need a car? How much will it cost, including insurance? In some countries, a car can be significantly more expensive than in the U.S. Will you need to get a new driver’s license? How’s the public transportation system?
Consider these points, and of course, take vacations in your dream destination as much as possible before making a final decision. Stay long enough so you experience it after the novelty wears off…because in any foreign country, eventually the novelty DOES wear off. (It’s called culture shock for a reason.)
Once that happens and you’ve done your research on these six points, you’ll have a better perspective to make the best decision for your retirement years.