Planning for a Happy Retirement Abroad
Some of us dream of retiring at home in the house where we brought up our children; of spending time with the grandchildren and enjoying longer vacations to far-off destinations. Others dream of reducing expenses down to the bare basics, selling the family home and buying something smaller, cheaper and much easier to maintain.
A growing proportion of the population dreams of finding a happy retirement abroad.
According to data compiled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in December 2016, more than half a million U.S. citizens are currently living abroad without having to give up their Social Security benefits. If the idea of retiring to a foreign country interests you, but you have no idea how to go about it, then the following information is enough to get you headed in the right direction.
Choosing where to retire to
For more than 25 years, International Living has conducted an annual survey of U.S. retirees living abroad that compares a broad spectrum of retirement-related factors in a number of countries: buying and renting, benefits and discounts, visas and residence, cost of living, the expat lifestyle and making friends, entertainment and facilities, healthcare, infrastructure and climate.
In 2017, some of the best places to retire to are more than likely located in Latin America (including Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica) and Europe (including Spain, Portugal and Malta), with the exception of Malaysia, which is cited as the real only option to stand out on the Asian continent.
Analyzing the options available
There are plenty of attractive reasons for choosing to retire abroad. These might include having the chance to choose the perfect climate to suit our tastes, to take advantage of cheaper living costs, or to simply embark on a new adventure while we can.
To ensure a smooth transition from one country to the next, and to live the happy retirement abroad we’ve pictured in our minds, it’s important to fully investigate visa and residency requirements and political stability, as well as healthcare costs and quality, because each country has its own set of rules and the differences can be quite dramatic.
This research takes time, which means it’s something you’re better off doing while still in full-time employment. Many expat retirees visit their shortlisted destinations for long vacations several times in order to test the water and live the life that they could end up living before committing to anything long-term.
Organizing finances, assets and tax
As an expat retiree, you don’t necessarily have to give up your U.S. citizenship when you move, which means you can make the decision to retire abroad and continue to receive the Social Security benefits that are due to you. You can also choose to keep your assets and the bulk of your finances safe and secure in the U.S. under a familiar system that you’re already comfortable with.
In order to do this, however, you need to get organized. Once living abroad, particularly if you choose to move to somewhere as far away as Europe or Asia, there might not be many opportunities for traveling back and forth on a regular basis in order to deal with day-to-day banking issues or matters relating to tax.
Keeping In touch with family and friends
The internet, smart phone apps and social media platforms have made it really easy for us to keep in touch with the people we love, even when we’re living thousands of kilometers away. The adjustment may prove to be more of a shock than you had imagined it would be, and you might also find it difficult making new friends in your new home at first, but finding joy in long-distance communication is more than possible.
The really positive element of retiring abroad is being able to receive family and friends as guests when they choose to take a vacation. Accommodation is one of the greatest costs experienced when traveling; a cost that is immediately eradicated when staying in the comfortable home of our expat retired friends.
You’ll soon become quite knowledgeable about your new home and be able to act as a personal tour guide to anyone who comes to visit you. Indeed, you may even find that you spend more “quality” time with the ones you love after having left the U.S.
Don’t be afraid of asking for help and advice from professionals or even from those who’ve already taken the plunge via online expat forums. Most people are more than happy to share their experiences.
The most important thing to remember when planning a huge move like expat retirement is that there’s no right or wrong way of going about things and there’s no universal destination to suit us all.
Time, research and gut feeling are the three main ingredients needed to turn your retirement abroad into a happy success.
About The Author
Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and traveling as much as possible.