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A Post-retirement Guide to Moving Overseas

Retiring overseas can offer an exciting opportunity to experience a different culture. But retiring abroad also requires careful planning and consideration. As you make your plans for retirement, consider these three steps to help determine which part of the globe would make a suitable home.

1. Pinpoint an Ideal Locale

Before someone lives abroad, it’s important to think about these key considerations:

·      Preferred lifestyle

Consider spending the least desirable season in the preferred retirement location to decide if it’s right for a permanent move.

·      Top activities and interests

·      Intended price point

Retirement destinations can be broken down by backdrop into beach, mountain or urban locations, says Kathleen Peddicord, publisher of Live and Invest Overseas, a publishing company focused on investing and overseas living, based out of Panama City, Panama.

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Peddicord recommends the Cayman Islands or the Virgin Islands for a foreign property in a tropical setting, and Switzerland for a more rural environment. Island locations are fitting for individuals who enjoy water-based activities and year-round warm weather, while mountainous regions like Switzerland are optimal for skiers and hikers. When it comes to city life, the culture, cuisine and art of Paris make it an unparalleled choice, she says.

The makeup of a community is another important factor to consider when deciding where to retire. Countries like Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico, and cities like San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta have well-established retirement communities filled with English speakers, which can eliminate potential language barriers and offer an active social life for incoming retirees.

2. Evaluate the Financial Reality

During the research process, it’s important for individuals to look into the cost of basic essentials in a potential retirement location. For example, retirees may need to purchase international health insurance or buy into the country’s health care system directly. Therefore, individuals should try to inquire about the cost and makeup of a country’s health care system.

Along with considering the potential health care expenses in the chosen region, it’s wise to estimate the cost of living, which includes factors such as housing prices and transportation costs.

Likewise, an individual’s purchasing habits can have a profound impact on the affordability of life abroad. Not only should someone account for exchange rates, but also foresee that American products, including food and clothing, will be marked up in other countries, so a reliance on American brands will add to living expenses, says Gabrielle Redford, an editorial projects manager at AARP The Magazine in Washington, D.C.

The ability to easily access cash and manage finances is also an important issue to address before moving. Using an online foreign exchange service can aid individuals in international bank transfers back and forth between domestic and foreign accounts. A trusted online foreign exchange provider can also offer relevant resources and helpful tools, such as a free online currency converter and 24/7 customer service.

3. Do a Test Run

Before deciding where to live abroad, individuals may consider renting a place in the desired neighborhood for a few months to get a better sense of retired life. “You want to get your feet wet just by renting before making a major financial commitment,” Redford says.

Consider spending the least desirable season — whether it’s monsoon season or a harsh winter — in the preferred location to decide if it’s right for a permanent move. Off seasons are also important to experience because the lack of tourists will cause many local restaurants and other entertainment to shut down, transforming the area into a ghost town. “See the place at its worst time,” Peddicord says, “and if you still like it, it’s good.”

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