One of the things people most look forward to in retirement is the opportunity to travel the world. For some, they’d prefer to actually live abroad. And why not? With today’s technology, the burden of being far away is greatly reduced. Plus, it’s an opportunity to experience something entirely new. But moving abroad is complicated. It can be overwhelming when one thinks of all the things involved in living overseas. Luckily, it’s not quite as complex as you may think. These 10 tips will help you in the process of retiring abroad.
Choosing a Place
It could be you have your utopia already picked out, but if not, you should do a bit of legwork ahead of time. In fact, you should still do a fair amount of research even if you do know where you’d like to go. Look into practicalities. Are you planning to work? Do you want to do away with driving? What’s public transportation like – are there a lot of stairs involved? Are you interested in good weather? Do you need a good washing machine? In many countries, appliances are not as well-made as they are in America.
The idea here is to be honest with what you really require. It may be your dream city isn’t actually all that livable for you. This is okay! You can always visit. That said, it’s important to understand that no place is perfect, so prepare to make some concessions in any case.
Finally, create a budget. What will you receive in social security, pensions, and other incomes during retirement? Now, look into the cost of living in some of your favorite countries. Money may dictate where you live, or where you don’t. Be honest, your income is mostly fixed now, so you can either afford it, or you can’t.
Make Sure Your Partner is on Board
Living abroad may be your dream, but is it your loved one? He or she may agree to be open-minded, but if they don’t really want to move, you need to consider this. It’s about both of your lives. Talk about what could be the hang up for the other person. Is it fear? Many are afraid of language barriers, being far away, and the general unknown. A conversation could help.
Perfection is an Idea
As you thumb through pictures, weather charts, financial details, and comments online about questionable bathrooms, remember that no matter where you go, there will be something you don’t like. Weigh the pluses and minuses. What can you live without? Also, bear in mind that America is the probably the most convenient place on the planet. If you leave here, you’re leaving the idea of 24/7 behind. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you should think about what happens instead, and if you can live with less convenience. You probably can!
Try it Out
Before you sign your life away to Antarctica, try living there first. Many sites like Airbnb offer apartment rentals, fully furnished and all. Going overseas for a couple months to see what it’s like to really live in a country is essential. You may find you love the city, but your neighborhood is too loud or doesn’t have enough going on.
You can even try to live overseas part-time. Many people do this, and it’s a great compromise if you or your spouse is concerned with being far away from loved ones, or a little tepid about making a full-time move. Living temporarily or part-time will ease concerns.
So you’ve found your new home. Now you need to make sure you can actually live there legally. To do this, you need a visa. Contact your country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. and get information about what’s required for your move. Some places are more readily available to you than others.
Understand Your Taxes
Make sure you know what you’re getting into as far as taxes go. Even if you don’t live in the U.S. you’re still a citizen and tied to your homeland’s taxation. Still, depending on how you make money, you may or may not need to pay American taxes.
Of course, you should find out the tax situation in your new country, too. Do this before you move, so you not only avoid surprises, but you’re set up for the best tax breaks from the day you step foot on new soil. To do this, you should find a local accounting firm and set up an appointment with a specialist – but get this figured out during a trip or your trial time overseas, not after you move!
Learn About Health Insurance
Unlike taxes, if you aren’t in America, you don’t get Medicare. So you need to buy local health insurance, but no need to panic, this will likely be much lower than what you’re used to. Find out every plan’s details, and calculate what it will cost. Make sure to save a little extra for the inevitable unexpected medical situation.
Practice Good Sense
It’s so easy to go away and get swept into the beauty of a new place. Customs are different, the people are different, and every day is a new adventure. That’s a wonderful feeling, but don’t make yourself a target. Many scammers look out for people who are almost drunk on euphoria. Don’t make rash decisions, don’t trust the first person you speak with, and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, even in your utopia.
Prepare for Change
Change is probably what you’re after if you’re going overseas. This is great, but sometimes the reality of different is a bit of a shock. Before you go, learn some of the local customs. How do people greet one another? What is common small talk? Learn what people consider polite and impolite. It’s probably going to take a little getting used to, but it will come.
The biggest change is going to be language, of course. Before you go, it’s a good idea to learn some basic survival words and phrases. If you can take a class, even better! The more you know before you ship out, the easier you’ll adapt.
And finally, new attitudes about daily life will come into play. Most countries have a much slower, more laid back way than the typical American’s habit. You will have to adjust, learn to be patient, and embrace this new way of life.
Stick it Out
Despite all you’ve done to prepare for a wonderful new experience, you will likely come to a point and question what on earth you’ve done. This is normal! It’s quite an adjustment to completely uproot your life. The language is different. The food is different. You can’t do anything on a Monday. No one delivers take out to your door. This was what you signed up for, though, and in these moments, remember why you chose this place above all others, including America.
Most people who have second thoughts find that if they just tough it out for a little while, the panic passes and once again they fall in love with their new home.