How To Find The Right Place For
You To Retire Overseas
Sept. 11, 2014, Panama City, Panama: When deciding where to retire overseas, pay as much attention to your heart as to more quantifiable or scientific considerations.
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
One thing I've learned in my 17 years as an American abroad is that you can't spreadsheet a new life in paradise.
As you consider your options for where to reinvent your life overseas, you want to review detailed budgets for the countries that interest you, as we try to help you do regularly. You want to understand the local tax rates as they'd apply to you and the average temperatures by season. You want to research the local standards for medical care and the cost of health insurance. You want to look into air access to and from the places you intend to travel regularly...options for establishing legal residency...
This research is important. But, once you've carried it out, set all the data aside and let your heart take over.
A friend, Jeff, a Brit who has been spending much of his time in Nicaragua for years, passed through Panama City this week.
"People ask me all the time why I chose Nicaragua over Costa Rica," he said.
"There are quantifiable explanations," Jeff continued. "The cost of living in Nicaragua is lower than that in Costa Rica, for example. And Nicaragua has a program of special benefits, tax breaks, etc., for foreign retirees that's very competitive.
"But those aren't the reasons I recommend Nicaragua over its neighbor to the south to anyone who asks or why I chose to focus my time and attention in Nicaragua years ago, when I could as easily have based myself in Costa Rica. Nicaragua simply appealed to me more," Jeff explained, "for reasons that I have trouble explaining."
I knew what he meant. I visited Costa Rica for the first time coming up on 30 years ago. I've returned probably 25 times since. Its Pacific coast is beautiful, as is its mountainous interior. Great surfing, great bird-watching, great boating, great fishing...Costa Rica has all these things. When I first traveled to this country, it was also very affordable and boasted the world's premier foreign retiree program. Still, I didn't get it. I could list out the advantages and benefits of living in Costa Rica, but I couldn't make myself want to live there.
Then, a few years later, I traveled to Nicaragua. I knew within a few hours of wandering around colonial Granada that this was a place I wanted to return to. This was a place I could call home, for visiting it for the first time felt like coming home.