The villa in Central America is your ideal vacation paradise, the seaside condo in Spain is the perfect home away from home, but would you consider them for your retirement? Maybe so! If the thought of retiring overseas sounds like a life of dreams, step back, take a deep breath and get ready to start planning.
Your favorite vacation spot may be perfect for a couple of weeks each year but before you make it your new home, there are questions to ask yourself and possible roadblocks to deal with. The following tips should help you in the deciding process if you are thinking of retiring abroad.
Plan together with your partner
Will you be retiring with a spouse or significant other? If so, talk about life in a foreign country honestly and openly. Discuss the lifestyle you both expect and the things that each of you will and will not tolerate. Vacationing in your favorite place gives you a visitor’s perspective; now you need to view it from a resident’s perspective.
Spend time abroad as a local
On the subject of a local perspective, plan on living for at least a couple of months as a resident in your target country. Rent a house or apartment and get a feel for the community before making a long-term commitment. Consider the social perspective, do you have friends or relatives already living there or will you be seeking new friends. Will you be able to get a reliable Internet connection, do you know the language, and how will you get around? These are all things we take for granted at home-think about these details in relation to another country.
Make a budget
Work through the costs of living abroad. Include rent and food, entertainment, transportation, insurance and utilities in the country you’re considering. Learn their tax system and the implications of working if you should decide to work part time or on a casual basis while you’re there. What type of documents such as working visas will you need in addition to your passport?
Have you thought about what it might mean to be away from family and loved ones? Consider proximity to an airport and the costs of traveling back home in case of emergencies and special occasions.
Know about health care and insurance
Check into your current health insurance coverage and whether you will need to purchase special insurance to cover you as a resident abroad. In some countries health insurance costs are low, making it feasible to pay for medical care on an as-required basis. Look closely at the medical system and the costs of health care in your target country to avoid surprises when you get there.
Look for a home first hand
It’s advisable to shop for your home in person rather than going online to decide on a place to live. When you plan your visit, contact a reliable real estate agent or two, who will take you to a number of places that fit your budget and desired community. It may be feasible to view seniors’ Independent Living or age specific such as 55+ retirement communities. Find a lawyer in your country of choice and talk to friends and relatives who have traveled or lived there. As you would do your due diligence in searching for a place to live here at home, take even more care as you search for a home abroad.
You may find that all things considered, vacations to your favorite place will do just fine. But if you’re reasonably certain that retirement abroad is right for you, be ready for change. Manage your expectations about climate, lifestyle and customs, and realize that no place will be perfect, but you are the only one who can decide where to enjoy your retirement years.
Written by Alice Lucette.
Alice Lucette, a blogger from Canada is a writer for SeniorsZen.com – a free resource for finding local senior homes in Canada.