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More From San Antonio–How And Where To Retire Overseas

“The world is alive with opportunity.

“Specifically, in the context of this Retire Overseas Conference, the world is alive with opportunity for places and ways to enjoy an interesting, welcoming, beautiful, friendly, engaging, adventure-filled, and, sometimes, very affordable retirement.

“That’s our starting point,” I explained bright and early yesterday morning to the group assembled with us here in San Antonio this week.

“Over the coming three days,” I continued, “we’re going to introduce you to your current best options worldwide for where to spend your retirement years, depending on your personal circumstances, priorities, and agendas.

“We’re also going to walk you, in detail, your hand in ours, through the eight key issues you’ll face no matter where in the world you decide to relocate, from health insurance and medical care to residency visas and figuring your retirement budget.

“However, before we get to all that, I’d like to take a step back with you and consider this big idea big picture, because, the truth is, retiring overseas isn’t for everyone.

“Who should retire overseas? To make a success of this, you need three characteristics, primarily:

  • Open-mindedness…
  • A spirit of adventure…
  • A good sense of humor…

“I’d say that everyone in this room today has an open mind and a spirit of adventure. You’re here because you’re looking for something new, something better, something bigger, something different, something other. I’d say you’re ideally suited to make a great success of this adventure precisely because you’re considering it. Just don’t forget your sense of humor. Your new life, wherever you choose to launch it, will be filled with delight and discovery.

“It will also be maddening. It will frustrate you, day by day, week by week. Some days, nothing you encounter and no one you come into contact with will make sense. But life in your new country of residence doesn’t need to make sense to you. Neither are you going to change it. You’re going to have to adjust to accommodate it as you find it. Along the way, it’ll help if you’re able to laugh…”

Following my opening remarks yesterday, we launched into a series of panel discussions. Our program for this Retire Overseas Conference has been conceived to provide full-spectrum information and insights–pluses and minuses, good and bad–and to showcase as many different points of view as possible.

First up on stage were Lief Simon and Lee Harrison, our resident bean-counters, the two guys I know who are most experienced and most expert at tallying costs and calculating budgets. Lief and Lee walked the group through the thinking that goes into figuring out where you can afford to retire.

“The question,” Lief explained, “is not how much does it cost to retire overseas?

“The question,” he continued, “is how much money do you have to retire?”
Lief and Lee then proceeded to show attendees how to determine the answer to that question.

“Once you know the size of your retirement nest egg,” Lee explained, “then you can figure out where that nest egg will buy you the retirement you want.

“In fact, though,” Lee continued, “I’d say that’s not the way to approach this. That’s backwards. Start by thinking through the life you want. Imagine your ideal lifestyle. Then look at the numbers in that context. Where will the budget you’ve got buy you the lifestyle you’re looking for?”

Lief and Lee remained on the stage…and were joined by Mike Cobb, for the next panel discussion, on Latin America. Lee, Mike, and Lief then introduced attendees to the pluses (accessibility, affordability, great weather, and lack of regulation) and the minuses (infrastructure, the mañana mentality, and lack of regulation) of the region where they each, for very different reasons, have, for decades, been focusing their time and attention.

Next up, our Euro-experts: Jocelyn Carnegie, Nikki di Girolamo, and Lief Simon. Advantages of Europe, according to Jocelyn, Nikki, and Lief? Infrastructure, culture, overall quality of life, and health care. Disadvantages? Language and cost. The good news, though, as Jocelyn, Nikki, and Lief all can attest from personal experience, is that the cost of living in Europe can be much, much less than you might imagine. Jocelyn and Nikki identified particular Euro-regions and particular towns, including Marseille in France, Istria in Croatia, and Abruzzo in Italy, where the cost of living in retirement can qualify as very low.

Finally, our Asia pros: Wendy and David Justice. Pluses of Asia, according to our Asia experts? In fact, in this case, there’s one great big serious plus: the cost of living. As they put it, “Everywhere in Asia where you’d want to retire is cheaper than the cheapest options in Latin America.”

That put things into perspective.

Downsides to Asia? It’s exotic, it’s far away, and you’ll struggle to be understood, sometimes even to read a restaurant menu. For the right person, though, the unbelievably low cost of enjoying the exotic delights of this part of the world can more than offset the associated challenges.

As I write today, we’re going over tax issues for the retiree overseas, including the hassles of finding a good tax attorney and the money-saving benefits of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

More from the scene tomorrow…

Kathleen Peddicord

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