Learn about retiring abroad- the following factors should be considered if you are planning to retire overseas. Is it for you? Are you the retire overseas type?
‘A couple of weeks ago my trustworthy bathroom mirror showed me the first strand of grey hair. My first reaction was denial no, it's just the light, this is blond, not grey, followed by shock, am I really that old, then acceptance yes I am, and the resolution to seriously think about retirement, or rather one specific aspect of it...retiring abroad-best places.’ (Margit Streifeneder)
These 5 questions come from a guest writer - Margit Streifeneder – based on her first hand experience of retiring from Germany to Nicaragua . Use these questions to find out if you are the ‘retiring at home’ or ‘retiring abroad type
In my home country or abroad? Follow along to find out if you are the "retire at home" or "retire abroad" type. Ask yourself the following five questions and answer them honestly. This exercise is not about getting high scores. Sure, you can cheat yourself with the answers. But that won't help you find the retirement location where you'll be happiest during your ‘golden years’, will it?
All set? Great, let's start with...
If you want to retire abroad, you need to travel. Not only when you finally move to your chosen retirement country, but before. You want to visit possible candidates. My advice would be to narrow down your choices (via online research) to your top 3 countries. Then visit each of them, ideally for an extended period, say 2 to 3 months.
Experience the country with the eyes of a resident rather than a tourist. Try to imagine how daily life would be if you lived there. Would you feel comfortable with the type of houses, the infrastructure, the environment and - probably most importantly - the people?
Also, take note of how convenient the travel between your home country and the destination is. Are there direct flights? How expensive are they? Do you need a visa to enter?
The answers to these questions are closely related to...
Mexico, for example, is a top retirement haven for many Americans, because of its proximity. You can even travel by car if you don't like flying. Or take Spain, one of the favorite places for Brits to retire.
If your answer to this question is "very important," then you've naturally narrowed down the list of potential retirement places to locations you can reach within let's say a maximum of 3 to 4 hours flight. In addition, your new home should be within a short driving distance from the country's international airport.
Your answer to question #2 determines how wide or narrow you should cast the net in your search for potential places to retire.
For many baby boomers, cost of living is the number one reason for retiring abroad. No wonder really when you think about how financial reserves literally evaporated for many people during the economic melt-down in 2008.
This is a tough question to answer. I mean, honestly, how many of us know exactly how much money we'll have when we retire? Still, if your answer is... probably not enough to live comfortably where I live now, then you have two options ... you can either increase your retirement income or decrease your expenses.
And, in my opinion, retiring to a country with lower cost-of-living is the most enjoyable way to decrease expenses!
Luckily you'll discover lots of wonderful cheap places to retire once you start looking.
Think back to your vacations ... were you excited by the exotic spices and unknown ingredients in your food? Or did you secretly wish for an Irish stew, Yorkshire pudding, Wiener schnitzel or whatever the typical dish in your home country is called?
Even if you were excited, imagine how it would be to have this unfamiliar type of food every day. Sure, you'll probably get some of the stuff you are used to in supermarkets. But some things are simply not available. For example, there are two things that I really miss in my country of choice, Nicaragua... high quality chocolate and Salami!
More likely than not, retiring abroad also means you have to deal with a foreign language. I was surprised though how easy it is to get by without speaking the language. Your first contacts in the new country will probably be fellow expats. You might even rent or buy a house in an expat community. There are international schools, English movies, book clubs, charities run by international organizations, English speaking doctors, etc.
But is "getting by" really what you want? You want to immerse yourself into the new culture, understand festivals and traditions and make local friends... otherwise you could have stayed at home, right? So, learning the language is a must-do, even if you first feel you make no progress at all!
Finally, how well can you cope with the small and big pitfalls that living in a foreign country inevitably entails? A good sense of humor and the ability to laugh about yourself are essential characteristics of the "retire abroad" type. Add patience and a relaxed manner, and you are all set to sail through obstacles like opening a bank account, applying for residency, finding out where to buy what, adapting to the locals' driving style or navigating the public transport system.
There you have it, 5 questions to determine your very own level of "retire abroad" aptitude.
Margit Streifeneder is a Geographer, entrepreneur and Social Media manager. Her own quest to find the World's best places to retire resulted in RetirePedia.com, a comprehensive online resource for people considering retiring abroad. Originally from Bavaria, Germany, she lived 3 years in Ireland and currently resides in Nicaragua.
For more on retiring abroad read my retire abroad checklist
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