2009 Retire Overseas Checklist, Part II

2009 Retire Overseas Checklist, Part II

There are lots of ways this can go wrong.

For example, you could begin the work of acquiring a residency visa for the country you’ve decided to adopt…only to discover, well into the process, that the rules have changed. The visa you were going after now requires new documentation and costs more money. Something like this happened this past year in Panama, where the Ministry of Immigration overhauled its foreign residency legislation and published new guidelines in August.

Or perhaps the powers that be turn over, and the new administration isn’t sure it wants to continue offering a particular foreign visa option at all anymore. This is a possibility in Belize, where the QRP foreign residency program could be discontinued.

On a grander what-have-I-gotten-myself-into scale, maybe you come to discover that the man who sold you the piece of land on which you plan to build your retirement dream home didn’t own it. And now you don’t either.

Maybe you budget, plan, and project…make your move…and then find, a year later, that you can no longer afford your rent, because inflation in your adopted homeland has spiked…or the exchange rate between the local currency and the one in which you earn your retirement income has gone seriously against you.

Or maybe you find, simply, that you don’t like the place. You don’t like the weather…or the people…or the view from your balcony…

You thought you wanted to be at the beach, but your windows are always covered with sea salt and your outdoor furniture requires perpetual care. This is no way to live.

Or maybe you’d dreamt your whole life of retiring to a small town but now, having done so, you can’t manage to figure out what it is that people here do on Friday nights…and where in the world do you go for a decent bottle of wine?

Nothing is as you expected it to be.

These aren’t theoretical what-if’s. These are things that happen all the time. Some of them have happened to us.

“But, wait, Kathleen,” you may be thinking, “I thought you assured us that we wouldn’t regret taking the leap and making a move abroad?”

I did…and you won’t.

But that is not to say that the course of true retirement bliss runs smooth. Some days, you will feel like you’ve never had more reason to get out of bed in the morning. Other days, you won’t want to get out of bed at all.

Because getting up means facing again the immigration officials or the people at the land title office…standing again on line for hours at the bank or maybe the bureau of gas and electricity, which, again, has billed you incorrectly…

I can’t give you here pat resolutions to all these challenges. I can’t even name all the potential challenges. You’ll have to discover them for yourself.

And you’ll have to take my word for it that there is an answer to every question, a way over every hurdle. Every problem has a solution, and finding it is part of the adventure and part of the fun.

The two most important things to bring with you when you come overseas are a sense of humor and an open mind.

Your new life isn’t going to be like your old one. But isn’t that the point?

Kathleen Peddicord

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