Relocating Overseas For Retirement: The Time Is Now

What In The World Are You Waiting For?

When is the right time for you to retire and move abroad?

Right now.

Okay, I don’t know you personally, but I know some things about you.

You’ve likely traveled overseas, and you’ve got good reasons for thinking you’d like to relocate beyond your own borders. You’ve likely even already created a short list of places where you think you might want to spend time.

So what are you waiting for? I figure you should go for it, sooner rather than later. Why? Because odds are, your retirement will work out fine. In the past 25 years, I’ve heard from literally hundreds of people who’ve moved overseas, many in their 40s and 50s. I wrote “Cashing In on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35,” a hardcover business bestseller in 1988. I got hundreds of letters then and still get emails today. I hear the stories, the investments, the choices these people made.

With only a few exceptions, those who retired even very early retired successfully. Only one couple I know and a single man said they had to go back to work because they invested unwisely. The money ran out. When they did go back to work, the couple quickly made the money they needed. They re-retired after just a few years. The single man decided to live on Social Security in a cheap country (Uruguay). In two other cases, people told me they went back to work because they missed the job.

But for the vast majority of us, our relocation overseas plans work out fine, no matter when we choose to settle. We just have to step up to the decision, make the move, and start enjoying our new lives.

Things might seem bad in the States right now, with uncertainty over the economy, concern over unstable politicians, and heightened worry over the terrorist threat. But we’ve all been through tough and uncertain times before.

Think about the poor guy who retired in 2001, only to see the twin towers blow up, the tech bubble burst, and the stock market collapse. Or the poor guy who retired when Jimmy Carter was president, with out-of-control inflation. Yet those “poor guys” have done well; retirees and others I know who’ve relocated overseas have sailed through both boom and bust.

I figure overseas “retirees” generally sail through better than most. Living overseas makes you resourceful and builds self-confidence. You’ve been around more, dealt with more, and moved more. Once installed overseas, you can more easily buy foreign real estate, trade foreign currencies, and take advantage of local opportunities.

You’ll most likely get a lot of peer pressure, from friends and family, bosses and employees, urging you to stay on. I didn’t have that peer pressure because I retired in Argentina where I had been working for KPMG in the Buenos Aires office.
When I told my secretary I was going to retire she said, “Oh, Paul, that’s just right for you.” When I asked her what made her so certain, she said, “You’re on a different bus. You’re not like the other guys around here.”

I was kind of surprised but encouraged. If I were on the wrong bus, maybe making a life overseas would put me on the right one.

And maybe it will put you on the right bus, too. Welcome aboard.

Paul Terhorst

Editor’s Note: Global investor and perpetual traveler Paul Terhorst writes a regular retirement-planning and investment column for our Overseas Retirement Letter.

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