Moving abroad can be a great adventure and an exciting way to spend retiring years. For those looking for adventure, retiring abroad can also open new possibilities for traveling to different places.
Of course, moving abroad for retirement is not for everyone. First, you and your spouse have to have a sense of adventure. Then, you have to make a lot of decisions before leaving the US including how to live on a fixed budget and how to communicate with your family and friends who still live in the US. Also, you need to create a wish list of everything you would like to see in your new place.
There is a chance that you may want to come back to the US after a few years of living abroad. In this case, you will need to figure out where to live, and how to get your documentation and health insurance in order.
Many people dream of moving abroad after they retire. However, moving abroad is a big step and there are lots of things you need to consider first, especially when it comes to your finances.
In this article we will look at the pros and cons of moving abroad for retirement.
The Pros of Retiring Abroad.
Retiring abroad is an adventure.
Many retirees choose to move abroad simply because of the experience of it. Everything feels new and exciting, like a fresh start in life. It is an adventure.
Living in a new country can allow you to experience a different way of life. If you are looking for adventure, retiring abroad can open the possibility of traveling to different places, learning about new cultures, food and lifestyle, and simply meeting new people.
When you live in your home country, it is easy to get into a routine and stick with it for years. But moving to a new country and living an adventurous lifestyle will make your life feel more fulfilling.
Lower cost of living.
It is not a secret that many retirees choose to move abroad to take advantage of a low cost of living. Many people find that living abroad allows them to get more out of their retirement savings. But depending on where you go, some foreign locations can have a higher cost of living.
For example, in many countries, you can live a comfortable middle-class lifestyle for less than $2000 per month. This budget includes rent for a decent apartment ($700 per month), public transportation, entertainment, and $20 basic meals at the restaurant.
You can get by on this budget in many countries throughout Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe. A few popular destinations for expats on a tight budget include Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Georgia, Armenia, Romania, and Montenegro.
You get to learn a new language.
It is nearly impossible to learn a new language without immersing yourself in the new culture.
By moving abroad, you put yourself in the perfect situation to learn the local language. You can learn the basics of a new language by taking some classes once you arrive. To achieve fluency, you can practice with your new local friends, read books or local newspapers. Even if you put in zero effort, you will still pick up a decent amount of the local language out of necessity.
Another option is to start learning a new language before you relocate by using apps, books, and online resources. One of the most popular language learning resources for free is Duolingo.
You get to experience a new culture.
One of the best parts of living abroad is to experience a new culture. You will learn about how other people live. Additionally, you will expand your horizons and learn about the world.
Culture is a broad term. Food and language, art and architecture, traditions, values, and social habits are all considered culture. The best way to experience a foreign country’s culture is to go and live in it. Who knows, you may even absorb some elements of the local culture into your new life.
You will travel and explore new places.
One of the best parts of moving to a foreign country is the ability to travel around the region you moved in.
Living in a new country will give an opportunity to explore and experience a different way of life. You can find yourself living in an area with a slower pace of life. Also, you may find yourself living closer to the sea, mountains, or other outdoor areas that are perfect for exploring. It can be a great way to enjoy a new way of life and explore the world.
You might find that retiring abroad will offer you a chance to live your life to the fullest. When you look back years later, you might find that your time living abroad was one of the most memorable times of your life.
You will meet new people and make new friends.
It can be easier to make new friends while living abroad than in your home country, especially if you are older. Because you will be part of the expat community when you move abroad.
Many cities have large established expat communities. In the expat community, you will meet new people and you have a good chance of making friends with fellow expats.
You get to simplify your life.
When most retirees move abroad, they do not take with them all their furniture, cars, clothes, and other belongings. Retiring abroad forces you to simplify your life.
Chances are, you will find you need less stuff than you had before. Some people get rid of everything and travel only with a few suitcases and a backpack. Many people prefer to get rid of the old stuff they have accumulated over the years. Getting rid of your old clothes, furniture, knick-knacks, and other belongings often takes off the weight of your shoulder.
You get access to better healthcare.
When you get to retiring age, the quality of healthcare is one of the first things you think about.
Keep in mind that your US health insurance won’t cover you outside of the United States. Medicare generally will not work overseas. Hence, when planning how to pay for your medical care as a retiree in a foreign country, you have to choose from three options:
- You can purchase a local insurance policy.
- You can invest in an international insurance policy.
- Also, you can choose to opt out of medical insurance and set up an emergency medical fund.
Still, most retirees do not feel comfortable having no medical insurance. When you are retiring abroad you want to ensure to have access to the best care possible at reasonable prices you can afford.
In some places overseas, healthcare can be free. The catch is you must be a legal resident. The further catch is that the available free health care services may not be up to a standard you will be comfortable with. However, there are still countries in Latin, Central America, and Europe with excellent and affordable healthcare services.
The Cons of Retiring Abroad.
Missing family and friends.
Moving abroad can be a great adventure and an exciting way to spend retiring years. But moving away from home can be a difficult challenge. It can become lonely. You will feel homesick and miss your friends and family while living abroad.
Depending on your location it might be expensive to fly back and forth between countries. Eventually, your relationship will suffer. You will miss the major life events of your friends and family. You will also miss out on spending holidays, birthdays, and weekend getaways together. All of it might hurt your relationships. Chances are, you will slowly drift apart from some of your friends and family if you do not see them regularly.
Moving abroad is expensive.
Many retirees move abroad to cut their expenses. But depending on where you go, moving to another country can be expensive.
First, you have to rent or buy property. It comes with the costs of associated fees for local lawyers and translators. And then there is the cost of moving your furniture and personal belongings to another country – transporting a shipping container generally costs thousands of dollars. In addition to that, you will have to pay for visas or residency permits, taxes, currency exchange, and family visits.
If you want to see your family at least once a year, you have to fly them to the continent you are living on. You might have to budget $1,500 – $2,000 (or more) per year for air tickets. If you are on a tight budget and you want to see your family more often, consider choosing a nearby country.
It would be more affordable to move to Mexico, Central or South America instead of Europe or Asia. Flights home will cost much less.
The language barrier.
It can be overwhelming if you decide to move to a non-English-speaking country. Eventually, you will need to learn to speak at least a little of a new language.
Not being able to speak a local language and communicate freely will make your day-to-day life more difficult. Everything becomes a struggle. Tasks like renting an apartment, opening a bank account, shopping at the grocery store, or renting a car will be a hassle.
Another problem is that some languages can be incredibly difficult and time-consuming to learn. Specifically, when you are older. It might take at least a year or two for you to become comfortable speaking a new language. And much longer to become fluent. Some languages are easier to learn than others. As an English speaker, you will probably pick up Spanish, German, or French faster than Chinese or Arabic.
If you do not want to learn a new language you should choose your new home in a country where English is an official language, spoken everywhere.
Some cultures are harder to understand and integrate than others. You will be immersed in a culture that is not your own. It can take some time to get used to it.
Everything from local customs to day-to-day interactions may feel strange and unfamiliar at first. But then with time and patience, you will eventually grow accustomed to it.
It can be difficult to integrate.
As a foreigner, who does not speak the local language yet, you may find it difficult to make local friends and fully integrate into local culture.
Locals socialize and work with other locals. They often have circles of friends that span decades. Also, they prefer to spend a lot of their time with their family. That is why learning a local language is essential. It will help you talk to your neighbors, make new friends, and assimilate into the new culture.
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