Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Retire Abroad in 2011!

Are you ready to Retire Abroad in 2011?

Deciding to retire abroad is an idea that many people are embracing for one of two reasons: it's because they're disillusioned with their home country for religious, social, political or economic reasons or they simply want to experience more of our world while they have the physical and financial resources to do so.

If you are seriously thinking of venturing out and finding a new home abroad in retirement there are a few key considerations you want to mull over prior to making that big commitment and moving overseas.

You don’t overlook any part of your plan that would be critical to your success as an expat. Think of this as your checklist to a new and wonderful life abroad in retirement!

Key Considerations for Retiring Abroad

Why Relocate in Retirement?

If you’re a foot loose and fancy free single that's one thinking but if you're married or in a committed relationship that's another. It's important to search your heart and your mind for the reasons you really want to move. If you are in a relationship make sure you do this individually without edit from your other half. Then compare notes and look for common reasons - hint - there better be a majority of them or you may be headed for trouble.  Whether you’re in a relationship or not you need to make certain you rationale for making the big move makes sense and that you have not only mutual harmony but individual harmony in your decision.

Now it's OK to have different motivators and reasons for moving abroad but again you want to look for compatibility and commitment. The goal is to make the move whereby everyone gets what they want and need.

Another reason to be very clear clear on your 'why' is so that you can find the right 'where'. If you don't know exactly what you want how will you know you've found it?

Change can be stressful - actually it's always stressful! Especially when you have spent some many years accustomed to your own culture and even the simplest things. When you move abroad our world will be turned upside down. At first it will seem fun and exciting but after the initial adrenalin rush wears off you  are sure to experience some trying times.  This is where your list comes in really handy. You can pull it out and remind yourself of all the reasons you wanted to leave your old home and all of the positives you are gaining from being in your new one.

Where are you going?

Quite often future expat retirees have a place in mind for their new life. It could be a place they have already been on vacation and have fantasized about ever since. Perhaps its somewhere that they already have some property maybe even a vacation home.  Or it may be a place they have never been before. It's very common for subscribers of the well known International Living Magazine to spend years reading and dreaming about a place they really want to call home.

In any of these examples it's easy to get tunnel vision. To get so focused and obsessed with just one idea or spot that you negate the possibility of living elsewhere.

This is a good time to pause and pull out your list and take the time to consider if this is truly the right choice for you. Here are a few things to think about -

  • Weather - is 'better weather' a big factor for you? If the answer is yes, than think about this - What to you means ‘better’? Define it. Get a handle on it by looking at it from all angles. For many who are simply fed up with cold winter months its easy to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. I mentioned in previous posts that I lived in the Republic of Panama - what many consider to be the best place to retire. Numerous times I met people who had chosen the dream of living beach side only to find themselves fed up with sand, endless air conditioning or showers three times a day. Their beachside dream melted into a pile of sweat! 
  • Location-Transportation-Accessibility - sure I realize your goal may be to ‘escape the rat race’ and have the quiet enjoyment of living abroad but the reality is you will likely need and want to  return home for visits occasionally or maybe even often. There aren't very many retirees who move abroad without leaving friends and family behind. They will likely want to visit you and in many cases you will find you are more often visting them. If you have children and grandchildren they lead busy lives and are typically tied to work and other obligations. That means Grandma and Grandpa are going to have to come home if they want to see their next generation.  If you’ve settled in 'the middle of nowhere' not only will it be difficult to get out or for people to visit you it may be quite expensive too!
  • Safety & Security - in North America and many other well developed western countries we have a well thought out rule of law but more than hat we have a well enforced rule of law. In many parts if the world where living is cheap you will still find rule of law but the financial resources fall far behind when it come to enforcement.  It doesn't mean the best places to retire can't also be safe but it does mean you need to be aware and do your homework first. 
  • Quality of Life - if you've spent 50 or 60 years living in a modern developed nation like Canada or te United States than you probably take many things for granted like: infrastructure, health care, shopping, entertainment and cultural activities to name just a few. All of these 'little things' make the difference when we talk about Quality of Life and Standard of Living.  What things will have an impact on your quality of living?  You may think the idea of learning another language is romantic but after six months of struggling with a simple restaurant order you may find the stress can grow to be overwhelming. Or how about something as vital and important as electricity? When was the last time your power went out and what would it be like with this was a monthly, weekly even daily occurrence?
  • Cost of Living - Many Americans may have thought they would retire in the U.S.A. but times they are a changin'. Now more than ever the cost of living is causing Americans to take pause and consider a cheaper life abroad.  But in years past the U.S. dollar was so strong it many a higher standard of living was almost assured.  Exchange rate fluctuations and the declining power of the U.S. dollar is changing the landscape. Even simple trips to Canada are no longer the bargain they once were with the dollar now valued at just 93 cents Canadian and falling.  Countries like Panama can be very attractie for Americans because they have adopted the U.S. dollar as their national currency. These factors can and will affect how much money you need to live comfortably. If you are moving abroad for retirement you likely have to live on a fixed income – the question is where will your money or savings buy you a lifestyle you really want? 
  • Fitting In - some countries are easier to fit into than others. If English is your native language than finding an English speaking country, say you retire in Belize for example, that will present less of a challenge to retiring Americans expats than nations where you have to learn another language. It also important to consider more than just language. I chose to live in Boquete Panama which is a Spanish speaking country but there were many English speaking expats who who were making Boquete their new home. This made it easier to 'Fit in' and find a reference group I could identify with.  Sometimes following others is the place where are you more likely to make friends and enjoy life.
In the next few days I'm going to explore the Best Places to retire Abroad in 2011. Watch for that and let me know what you think! Oh and if you're from Canada or know Canada be sure to vote in our poll over there on the side bar for the Best Places to Live in Canada.

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