Many people dream of one day retiring in the foreign paradise they have seen advertised in travel magazines or on television. Can you imagine waking up to the smell of the ocean from your open-terraced home, enjoying a cup of coffee or fresh squeeze orange juice as you watch the sunrise over the palm trees? Then you get to enjoy the day walking around the markets, volunteering to help some local kids, taking a hike through the rain forest, or just relaxing by the pool. You end the day with a nice lobster dinner at a seaside cafe for under $30 a couple. Sounds perfect doesn’t it?
There are many things you need to consider when thinking about moving abroad to retire. While retirement in a faraway land has the prospect of adventure and the allure of the unknown, it is not always just grilled lobster and palm trees. There are many things you need to take into account before packing your bags such as language problems, culture shock, distance from family, and sometimes loneliness. However, as it is getting more expensive to retire in the United States, sometimes retiring in a foreign country can make good financial sense. Before you decide to exchange your dollars for foreign currency, here are some questions you should ask yourself.
1. Have you thoroughly researched the country? Before moving it would be a good idea to travel two or three times to the place you plan to spend your retirement. Make sure to get a feel of the country that you will be moving to by spending enough time there before buying or renting. Talk to expats about their experiences in the country. You might also want to get advice from a reliable local lawyer.
2. Have you thought about what it will mean to be far away from family? Does the place you want to retire have an accessible airport? How long would it take you to get back to the United States? How much would travel cost for you to return or for your family to come visit? Is communication with family going to be easy and cost efficient? Make sure to take all these things into consideration. You might need to be ok with missing graduations, birthdays, weddings, etc.
3. Are you patient? In most foreign countries you are going to need to be laid back and patient. Inefficiency of transportation and delays are quite common in most cultures. Timeliness is not as important as it is to Americans. Make sure you have a flexible spirit and are able to let things roll off your back if you are considering moving to a place where time is not of the essence.
4. Are you willing to learn a new language? While you can find people who speak English in many places around the world, do not count on this. You might need to be willing to learn some of the local language to be able to order in restaurants, shop in markets, or ask directions.
5. Are you ok with being in a minority? You might be able to find other expats in the area where you plan to retire for support, but even if you do you will always be a foreigner in your new home. Make sure to consider what it will be like to be in the minority and stand out in most places.
6. What are you willing to do without? Are you willing to give up first-run movies, M&Ms, and the comforts of home? Know that you may not be able to get everything you enjoy like you do in America. The country you move to may not carry your favorite brand of peanut butter, the ketchup may taste different, and you might have to pay for refills.
7. Are you cut out for a life changing adventure? Make sure you are not moving to a foreign country just because of the lower cost. Make sure you are ready to embrace the experience and the life changes that you will ensue. Make sure you are willing to put up with the pros and cons of living in the country you choose to retire in.