Retire Abroad

Is Retiring Abroad part of your retirement planning?

Retired expatriates from Britain share their experience of how to retire abroad.

The possibility of retiring abroad wasn't on my father’s mind, when during my schooldays he counseled ‘Get your exams, and you can travel the world’.

Travel the world

’I have been fortunate to have visited many countries in connection with my work, and on holidays. I worked in Zambia from 1969-1974 and I’ have returned to Africa on five occasions since - Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Zambia (you can see more in my story Going Back). 

I have been to Asia on three occasions - Thailand Singapore and Hong Kong, South America twice - Argentina and Venezuela. I'’ve been to the USA many times, and I love it - California, Las Vegas, Florida, New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia. And I'’ve been to Australia, east and west three times. 

In Europe I'’ve been to Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Germany France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Austria, Andorra, Monaco and Norway. 

And I'’m not finished yet! Many of my retirement wishes to come can be seen in my Bucket List

Travel has been one of my great pleasures in life, and having spent some of the best years of my life working abroad, I have given some thought to retiring abroad.

Retire to sunny Gran Caneria?

In December 2008 I went on holidays to sunny Gran Canaria to lessen the threat of winter blues. It was there I encountered the character that wrote about in Peter The Great

Of more relevance to this story, I met Helen and Brian, retired expatriates from Britain, both in their early sixties. I was eager to learn from their experience, since Spain and the Canaries were the most popular holiday destination from the UK and Ireland, and thus would be among potential locations to retire abroad. 

They told me that the sunshine was the big attraction. “The climate was much healthier than the UK. We take long walks along the beach and promenade and in the evening sitting on our veranda, watching the sun go down, sipping a cool drink, we imagine the English winter and think that we will never go back.” 

“Coming here was an adventure for us; we were attracted to the idea of starting over in a new phase of life. We planned to learn Spanish and to be open to new cultural experiences. However, we haven’t learned the language, and our friends are all British or Irish.” 

We’ve made a few friends here, but mainly we keep to ourselves. We miss our son and daughter, and our three grandchildren. The children are at an age when it is less convenient for them to visit us. Also, the apartment is too small to accommodate visitors. 

The cost of living is lower, though this advantage was now eroded by the fall in the value of the Pound versus the Euro. 

Helen and Brian sold their home in Manchester, five years ago, and from the proceeds they were able to retire abroad to an apartment in Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria and have money left over to invest for additional income to top up their pension. Their UK pension was now worth less in Euro terms because of the exchange rate movement, investments had taken a big dip in value and deposit interest was not keeping pace with inflation. The apartment had fallen substantially in value. 

It was probably worth less than they paid for it and there was little prospect of selling it in the medium term, if they wanted to. “The money situation is not as good as we thought it would be, though we’re still ok. Some expatriates are struggling here, no doubt, and some have returned to the UK” 

Lessons from Helen's and Brian's story

Their story reinforced for me the belief that retirement from work is one of life'’s biggest transitions and is often accompanied by other life changing events , establishing an adult relationship with children and a changed relationship with spouse, learning to be a grandparent, adjusting to a general decline in sociability. Occasional depressive feelings and health concerns become part of life. 

With so many changes coming all at once, it will be appropriate in some circumstances to delay other voluntary changes such as going changing house and retiring abroad. We are constantly being sold the ideal picture of How to Retire Abroad by advertising companies.

Have a look at how to retire overseas  

Many people do it successfully and have a wonderful experience. If you think you can become one of those have a look at my Retire Overseas Checklist.

5 Great Questions re Retire Abroad

These 5 questions come from a guest writer - Margit Streifeneder - and they come from her first hand experience . If you want to find out if you are the "retire at home" or "retire abroad type" - have a look at her Retire Abroad Checklist 


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