Before you can begin to consider where best you might relocate overseas in retirement, you’ve got to get to know yourself better. What’s important to you? What things would you miss from your current life if they weren’t part of your new one? What services, amenities, niceties, and distractions could you not live without? And what hassles, hurdles, frustrations, and difficulties would you find intolerable?
Before you retire overseas, ask yourself…
Regarding The Climate:
- Do you enjoy a change of seasons?
- Would you be unhappy without regular sunshine?
- Do you mind rain?
- Can you handle heat? Humidity?
- Do you prefer a varying length of day?
- Do you lose your cool if you can’t send an email the first time every time you try?
- Does your work require reliable Internet service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
- Would you mind living on a dirt road?
- Would you mind your road access being temporarily cut off during the rainy season?
- Do you need American television?
- Would you be unhappy if you couldn’t watch football on Sunday afternoons?
- Are you afraid of the dark? In much of the world, electricity isn’t 100% reliable.
- Would you be comfortable owning a car and driving yourself around in a new country? If not, think about places where you could afford a full-time driver or where a car is unnecessary?
- Would you want to travel outside the country often, either to visit family back home or generally? If so, consider how far it is to the nearest international airport.
- Would you be unhappy without your favorite comfort foods? If so, consider places with access to international-standard grocery stores.
Regarding Access “Back Home”:
- Do you have children or grandchildren you want to see regularly?
- Are you going to be keeping a home in the country where you’re moving from?
- Will you have some ongoing business concerns in other countries?
- Do you speak a second one?
- Are you terrified at the thought of learning a new one?
When It Comes To How You Like To Spend Your Time:
- What’s your favorite thing to do on a Friday night?
- How would you rather spend a free Sunday afternoon—in a museum or taking a long walk in the woods?
- How regularly do you want to be able to dine out? To watch a first-run movie in English? To visit an art gallery or attend the theater?
- What would you like to see from your bedroom window? The ocean? A mountainside covered with wildflowers? A vineyard? A busy street scene?
- From where will you derive your income in retirement?
- Will you have earned pension, dividend, interest, rental, or capital gains income to account for? The source of your income has a lot to do with your ultimate tax liability, especially if you’re an American.
- Are you a woman moving alone?
- Are you moving with young children?
- Do protests bother you? The French, for example, seem to assemble to make a point at the drop of a beret.
- Do you speak the local language? If you do, situations that might otherwise seem frightening won’t bother you. If you don’t, you may sometimes feel uncomfortable even if there’s really no cause for worry.
- Have you traveled much internationally? If yes, again, you’re probably better prepared for what otherwise might seem worrisome situations.
Considering these kinds of questions is perhaps the most important part of planning a retirement abroad. Be honest with yourself (and, critically, with your significant other if you’ll be making the move together).
If you know you don’t like rainy days, for example, strike Ireland from your list.
If you thrive on cosmopolitan distractions, don’t think about the hinterlands of Ecuador.
If your eyes begin to twitch at the thought of an unreliable Internet connection, forget about much of Nicaragua.
If you don’t speak French and have no interest in trying to learn, I’d suggest that rural France is not the place for you.
If humidity makes you irritable, don’t plan your new life in Panama City.
Kathleen Peddicord is the publisher of Live and Invest Overseas, offering retirement and overseas living advice in her free daily Overseas Opportunity Letter and the monthly Overseas Retirement Letter. Her preceeding essay originally appeared on the Huffington Post.