Creating Your Plan For Retiring Overseas

This Isn’t All Or Nothing

Ken C. wrote last week to say:

“Kathleen, I have been reading your daily emails for a month now. There is one topic that I haven’t seen addressed as yet. I have always lived in the United States, and, due to numerous family connections, I am not interested in deciding on a permanent location as yet.

“On my current US$1,300/month retirement income, I am very much interested in residing to one of the many affordable locations you suggest but for perhaps 8 to 10 months at a time, then I’d return to the United States for a couple of months or so staying with family. Afterwards to consider a new location and repeat the process. My possessions are minimal, so I would travel very light and seek a furnished rental or even a shared arrangement, perhaps even with an expat host.

“In eight years my Social Security income will be at a little more than US$2,000, and I may by that time be ready to settle into something permanent.

“I have considered the discounted offer off the new resource kit, but I fear it is mainly geared toward making a permanent move, along with a purchase investment. In summary, is it feasible on my current income to reside most of the year without making it a move commitment?”

I like this question because it makes an important point.

You don’t have to sell everything you own, say good-bye to everyone you’ve ever known, and take off for a new life in some distant and exotic place, never to be heard from again. That’s not the only way to realize the benefits of retiring overseas.

In fact, there is no “only” way to retire overseas. This idea is infinitely customizable. It works if you want to leave your current life in the rear view for good… and it works if you want to spend a few months (or, like this reader, 8 or 10 months) a year in another country, dividing your time between the United States and a part-time home in another country… or maybe (again, like the reader who wrote this week) dividing your time between the United States and many other countries in series.

The idea of retiring to another country is enjoying more attention today than ever, especially in the United States, where Boomers at and approaching retirement age are coming face-to-face with figuring a plan for how they’re going to spend this next phase of their lives. With many years, even decades of healthy living still to look forward to, this current generation of retirees is more interested than any that has preceded it in considering outside-the-box opportunities. Certainly, retirement for Americans these days is no longer about making a choice between Arizona and Florida.

The options for a rewarding, fulfilling, and affordable retirement today are limited only by the retiree’s imagination. Your retire-overseas plan can take whatever form you want it to take. Don’t think in terms of a full-time move for the rest of your life if that thought makes you uncomfortable. To start, think, for example, about spending a few months a year someplace new and interesting, warm and welcoming.

Retirees from upstate New York and the Dakotas have been migrating south for decades. The difference today is that your viable, even easy, and certainly appealing options can take you much farther south… maybe across the Atlantic… or even way far East. Panama is the new Florida, and Mexico, Nicaragua, and Belize offer dramatically more alluring (in my estimation) alternatives to a Sun City retirement in Arizona.

Other good part-time retirement havens include Argentina and Uruguay, where the seasons are the reverse of those in North America. These aren’t tropical getaways but offer more cosmopolitan wintertime escape options.

Other places that make sense as part-time retirement choices are those where establishing full-time residency is a hassle or, perhaps, impossible. You’ll have your work cut out for you trying to organize full-time legal residency as a retiree in Croatia or New Zealand, for example. These are both great places to spend time, though, making them good part-time options.

My point is, if you’re just warming up to this idea of spending your retirement years in a new country, take the pressure off. This isn’t all or nothing. You can think part-time.

And you can start just by taking a trip. Which sunny, friendly, and affordable overseas haven has caught your interest?

Buy a plane ticket and go visit. Spend a few weeks or a month. Treat it as a holiday. And see where this getting-started journey leads.

It could be the fun and easy first step of your rich, satisfying, adventure-filled new life overseas.

Kathleen Peddicord

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