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Where Can I Retire Abroad?

This week,  Amanda Bates takes your question.  

Disclaimer: You asked for advice. We’re providing it. But as with anything else, make sure you check with the actual professionals to make the right decision, especially when it comes to immigration.

Q:  I’m looking to retire abroad. Where should I go?

A: This idea of the world being your oyster definitely includes those who want to retire outside of their home country. Because you didn’t mention your age, for all intents and purposes, I will assume you’re over 50. As I’ve mentioned before, finding the best country is a complex process because everyone has specific needs. Therefore, I can’t give you a list because I have no idea what YOUR needs are. But I will give you four key things you need to work out as you choose a location.

Do you have a budget? You need to know exactly how much money you have available to you monthly. You need to know this before you even start picking locations. If you’re retiring and plan on not working at all, whatever money you have saved is going to have to sustain you wherever you choose to move. In fact, knowing your budget will tell you immediately what places you may have to exclude when you start looking at the cost of living. Retirees Devin and Lawanson Austin initially were looking at Europe locations but changed their plans when they figured out that their retirement income wouldn’t be able to cover the quality of life they wanted in Paris. Your money situation is going to have to stretch for the long haul, so you need to know what you’re working with.

What is your quality of life? Retirement is an opening to engage and live the life you want. However, you define what is going to make retiring abroad enjoyable for you. And you need to think broadly – including expected standard of living, weather, population demographics and available activities are all part of this process. If cold weather makes you miserable in Michigan then you may not be looking at Canada as your next stop. If you have an urban mindset and want to be around the hub of activity, you probably want to stay away from more rural, pastoral locations (no matter how much wine country may be calling you). You need to flesh out what you think you would like to be doing, especially since you’ll have more time to do what you couldn ‘t do while working. If you know what you would like to do, it will help eliminate places that don’t fit the bill.

What are your healthcare needs? You need to find places that provide health services at an affordable cost for your lifestyle and desired quality of life. You may find a country which is ideal in other ways but has a poor record of providing medical care. If you are not comfortable based on your personal situation, you will need to research other locations that align with your needs. Conversely, if you are facing specific health issues, some places may not work out because of their health concerns. As Aisha Adkins wrote,  you need to be honest about your health and your health needs when you go abroad. For example, if you are an individual who deals with bad asthma, locales with significant air quality problems won’t be a fit. You may have to nix a dream location because it’s just not safe for your health.

How far do you want to travel to see family? Living abroad is a trade off. A big one is being away from loved ones and missing familial milestones. This includes birthdays, weddings and even funerals. If you are someone who is quite close to family and friends, you want to understand how far you’re willing to be from the grandchildren, siblings and everyone else. You also have to recognize that depending how far you are, it may be difficult for loved ones to travel to see you.

If you can get these squared away, you’ll have a great starting place to find the locations that are a match for you.

Need advice? Ask away. Questions may be edited for length and clarity.

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