Retiring outside the United States has been growing in popularity for a number of years.
There are many attractive benefits for seniors such as warm climates, welcoming locals, delicious food, new adventures, and a lower cost of living to give your money more value.
But, going on vacation is not the same as living abroad, and making the move requires some careful thought and research to make sure you are well informed.
There are a number of factors that must be considered, and then weighed in importance to you when deciding where to retire overseas.
Top Factors for International Retirement:
- Cost of Living
- Daily life
- Banking and Currency
- Residency-Visa process
- Safety and Stability
- Distance from family
It is important to understand these factors that will form the foundation for your new life living outside the United States. Start with your cost of living: Do you want to live where it is cheaper, or is cost of living not an issue?
Make sure you are comfortable with the climate, and understand how the seasons unfold over the course of a year. You will need to communicate with your fellow residents, so be sure you can learn a new language or seek out where English is commonly spoken.
Another language you will need to be comfortable with is commerce, so understanding how banking and the local currency works will be important. Take time also to understand how the legal and government system works so you can feel comfortable you are moving to a stable and safe country.
As you are selecting your ideal new location, you should make sure you spend time there as more than a tourist. Consider spending 3-6 months renting and living as a local. Get a feel for what it will be like to live on a daily basis, have neighbors, do groceries, and pay bills.
Another important aspect people don’t tend to think about on vacation is a country’s healthcare system. Make sure you spend time understanding how it works, how it is paid for, and the level of quality you can expect. And as you age you will want to understand what kind of long-term care supports and services are available as well.
If the move feels right, it will be critical that you are able to establish your legal residency through the visa process, and possibly full citizenship. And if you have reached the point you are deciding it’s time to pack your bags, one last thing you will want to consider—how difficult is it to travel there for you and for your loved ones. Remember, if you move you won’t be taking your extended family and friends with you. Once you have relocated, you will want them to be able to visit and you will want to be able to return to the States without it becoming a major undertaking.
So out of 132 countries, how do you know where you should be looking?
Here are some lists to help you narrow down your best choices:
Top 5 most expensive countries to live (out of 132 countries):
And here is a sample of where some other countries rank out of 132:
20) United States
Some of the most affordable countries to live based on region:
- Europe: Portugal / Slovenia / Montenegro / Spain / Italy / Malta
- Latin America: Ecuador / Mexico / Argentina / Belize / Panama / Colombia
- Asia-Pacific: Malaysia / Indonesia / Thailand / Borneo / Viet Nam
Top 5 countries for safety and stability rank ordered by affordability:
- Czech Republic
Countries with well-established senior living communities and long-term care supports and services:
- New Zealand
Based on many of these factors, here are 10 countries that score high on the Retirement Genius International Index:
- Costa Rica ($1,400/mo.)- biodiversity / active lifestyle/ stable government / friendly populace / stable banking / good healthcare system / distance to U.S. / low cost of living
- Panama ($1,100/mo.)- climate / cosmopolitan living / strong expat network / English commonly spoken / good healthcare system / use U.S. currency and low taxes / National Senior Discount Program / low cost of living
- Spain ($1,200/mo.)- high quality, inexpensive food / low cost of living / beaches and mild weather / diverse climate / good healthcare system
- Thailand ($600/mo.)- active lifestyle and biodiversity / culture and metropolitan living / expat networks / low cost of living
- Peru ($2,000/mo.)- exotic living / climate / low cost of living
- Portugal ($1,700/mo.)- friendly / safe and stable / English commonly spoken / beaches and cosmopolitan living / climate / low cost of living / easy visa with Golden Visa if prove $1,200/mo. income
- Colombia ($1,000/mo.)- climate and biodiversity / good healthcare system / cosmopolitan living and exotic locals / cost or living / easy visa if prove $2,500/mo. income
- Malaysia ($1,300/mo.)- exotic and climate / English commonly spoken / low cost of living
- Ecuador ($1,500/mo.)- climate and biodiversity / mix of metropolitan and rural living / strong expat network / English commonly spoken / excellent local food / senior discount programs / U.S. currency and low cost of living
- Mexico ($1,600/mo.)- climate and biodiversity / beaches / national healthcare system / distance to U.S. / low cost of living
Retiring overseas comes down to making personal choices that reflect who you are, what you want and what you can afford.
The key to getting it right is doing your homework so you fully understand what you are getting into — before you make the move.
Chris Orestis is a nationally recognized senior care advocate and expert in retirement, long-term care and specialty senior living funding solutions. The author of two books, numerous published papers and articles, and a frequent industry speaker; he is the innovator that brought the LTC Life Settlement into the market over a decade ago.
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