Best Places to Retire Abroad
Retiring abroad is the dream of an increasing number of Boomers, although the reasons for the choice are as varied as the Boomers themselves. Whether you have already made the decision to retire overseas or you are just beginning to contemplate the possibilities, deciding where to spend your retirement years is among the first decisions most people want to make. It seems easier to make successive decisions if you first know where you will be.
Priorities are different for each of us. Some want to leave winter weather behind forever and yearn for tropical climates in their overseas retirement. Some want to be able to stretch their retirement dollars by choosing a place with a lower cost of living than they have now. Others, especially those with chronic or uninsurable illnesses, are looking for the affordable healthcare offered by many other countries. And some just want to start a new chapter in their lives. Rather than considering their retirement as the end of their working lives, they want to think of it as the launch of a new adventure. The reasons that are most important to you will affect the location you select for your expatriate retirement.
You might want to decide on a general part of the world before you zero in on a specific country or city. Just about any place you retire abroad will be in a country much smaller than the United States. Many foreign countries are about the size of one of our states. Countries in Europe and the Mediterranean (France, Spain, Italy, Malta, and others) have long histories and rich cultural opportunities, often with centuries of stable governments. Sun-drenched countries in Central and South America (Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, and others) have shorter and stormier histories, and although many are models of democracy today, infrastructure in some borders on primitive. Most Asian countries (Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and others) have long histories, but governmental regimes in some have come and gone through that time, and lifestyle, religion, and customs are markedly different from the U.S. South and Central Pacific island nations (Fuji, Philippines, Samoa, and others) offer small paradises that might fulfill your every dream—as long as you don’t get claustrophobic island fever from their tight confines. And don’t overlook our neighbors, Canada and Mexico.
Choosing an overseas retirement home involves many more decisions than choosing a new house or apartment in your current city or state. In considering where to retire, you need to consider obvious things such as language and currency. Do you already speak another language, or are you willing to learn? How quickly do you think you will catch on to a new monetary system? Heavier decisions involve visas and permits; property ownership laws and regulations; taxes, both U.S. and those of your new host country; driver’s licenses; and whether you want to continue to work part-time, with the foreign laws surrounding that.
How accessible is transportation? Consider how often you might want to return to the United States to see friends or relatives. For that matter, consider whether you will miss family and friends too much to leave permanently. Readily available flights back to the States can facilitate visits. On a local scale, how much do you want to drive? Do you want to live in a small town or village where most everything is within walking distance, or do you prefer a big city, with ready access to cultural events and medical care? Do you want to take up bicycling locally or are you tied to driving everywhere?
The goal of this website is to help make your decisions easier as you decide whether to retire overseas or retire in your own hometown. We hope to raise questions you might not have thought of, to provide answers to some questions you already have, and to offer you resources to help find answers to whatever you’re looking for in your retirement.