As much of the world continues on pause, readers are writing every day to ask:
“Is there anything I can do now, when I can’t travel, to push ahead with my live or retire overseas plans? I’m afraid I’m losing time…”
The good news is that our answer to that question is an enthusiastic:
Yes! There is a lot you can do right now. It might seem that the world has gone completely sideways… and maybe, in some ways, it has.
For sure, there’s a lot that is beyond our control, so let’s focus on what isn’t.
If you’ve been considering the idea of launching a new life in a new country, today is the day to get started making that dream come true… global pandemic, lockdowns, and travel restrictions notwithstanding.
Here’s what you do:
You take out a piece of paper and a pen. Go on. I’ll wait.
Now, find a comfortable chair, settle in, and make a list.
Write down everything that’s important to you. Consider all aspects of your life, big and small. What do you enjoy? What would you miss if it were gone from your life? What makes you crazy? And what would you like never to have to deal with again? Write it all down on your piece of paper.
Here… I’ll make some suggestions to get you going…
Think about the weather. What do you prefer? Year-round sunshine? Four seasons? Low humidity? Minimal rainfall?
Consider things related to infrastructure. How important to you are wireless internet and cable TV?
Think about health care.
Would you be comfortable being examined by a doctor who didn’t speak English? Do you have an existing health concern that could require emergency medical attention? In that case, it’s important to you to be within a, say, 20-minute drive of a First World hospital.
How do you like to spend your free time? Do you like to surf? Boat? Fish, dive, play golf?
Or are you more interested in gallery openings, live theater, foreign flicks, and pleasure shopping?
Do you like to move around? That is, would your ideal retirement life include lots of travel? In that case, it’s important to you to be within easy commuting distance of an international airport.
How do you like to eat? In restaurants three or four nights a week? Or do you prefer to cook? If cooking is a passion and a pastime, a big and fully equipped kitchen is a priority.
Do you enjoy Jiffy peanut butter sandwiches and prefer to use French butter when you bake? (That’s OK, so do I).
Do you intend to invest in a place to live in your new home overseas? Then restrictions on foreign ownership of property as well as the costs of buying and selling it are important to you.
Do you want to own a car in your new home overseas? Usually, you’re better off if you don’t. But if you aren’t going to have a car of your own, local public transportation becomes important to you.
Will you want to be able to return to the States to see your grandkids often? Then the cost of a round-trip ticket from where you’ll be living to where you want to visit is important.
Do you intend to live full-time in your new country? Then the available options for establishing legal residency are important.
Would you like to start a business as part of your new life? Then you care about things like the quality, diversity, and cost of the available local pool of labor, as well as the country’s general doing-business climate.
Will it bother you to have to pay attention to a fluctuating exchange rate between the currency of the place where you’re living and the currency your retirement funds are denominated in? If so, maybe it’d be better to focus on places where they use the U.S. dollar (assuming that’s the currency of your retirement money).
Would you be uncomfortable living among the locals? That is, would you prefer to minimize culture shock and avoid learning a new language if possible?
What would you like to see from your bedroom window every morning when you wake up? The beach? A wildflower-covered hillside? A city scene?
And what would you like to hear outside your bedroom window each night as you fall asleep…
That’s how you get going with this. Even now in the face of all the uncertainty the world continues to serve up.
You make a list.