Connecting The Dots
This month’s issue of the Overseas Retirement Letter, focused on Maceió, Brazil, a very affordable at-the-beach retirement destination, is in the final stages of production and will be fulfilled to subscribers Wednesday.
As Contributing Editor Christian MacDonald puts it in his report, ”Maceió is the perfect blend. It offers laid-back seaside living and an exciting and vibrant beachfront scene. In other words, it has the beauty, excitement, and energy of some of its larger cousins to the north, without their big-city crime, poverty, or annoyances.”
Christian, who has seen a lot of Brazil, puts Maceió at the top of his list of retirement choices in this country.
Does that mean Maceió qualifies as the world’s top retirement haven right now?
Well, maybe. If your agenda is all about an affordable retirement oceanside.
Not so much if you’re in search of an absolutely cheap retirement destination overseas. Maceió, like many places we introduce to you in these virtual pages, is relatively cheap compared with elsewhere in Brazil and certainly compared with much of North America. However, I wouldn’t call it absolutely cheap. You could live for less other places.
Likewise, Maceió, Brazil, wouldn’t be the world’s top retirement haven for you if you’re looking for a place to retire and start a business…to retire with school-aged children…to retire to a cool climate…to a place where you wouldn’t have to learn a new language…or somewhere you could settle among an established community of North American expats…
Maceió is many appealing things. But it doesn’t boast top international schooling options. Brazil isn’t the best place right now to launch an international business. The weather in Maceió is great…as long as you like it warm year-round.
The people in Maceió speak Portuguese, and, to make a new life among them, you’ll have to learn a little of it, too. As our Editor Christian has identified, this city qualifies as a top retire-to-the-beach option, but not many foreign retirees have figured that out yet…meaning you’ll be something of a pioneer in this regard. Unlike in some other overseas retirement havens we introduce you to in these dispatches, retiring to Maceió, you wouldn’t be welcome by an established expatriate community. There isn’t one.
For many years, I published a global survey that named the world’s #1 place to retire overseas. It was a useful resource, but today I recognize that there’s really no such thing.
There’s no one-size-fits-all best place overseas to spend your retirement years.
There is, however, of course, a retire-overseas choice with your name on it.
That is, a retirement destination that checks enough of your boxes.
In other words, before you can identify the world’s top retirement haven for you, you’ve got to identify what’s important to you.
I remind you of this all-important retire-overseas fundamental often, as well as of some of the issues you should consider when addressing it…such as:
- Cost of living
- Cost of real estate, for sale and for rent (that is, housing)
- Cost of medical care
- Quality of medical care
- Options for health insurance
- Options for establishing foreign residency (if you want to live in the place full-time)
- Accessibility to your home country (if you want to be able to return home often to visit the grandkids, for example)
- Infrastructure reliability (especially if you intend to manage your investment portfolio online, for example, or to run a business)
- International schooling alternatives (if you’re retiring overseas with school-aged children)
- Opportunities for starting a business (if you want to derive some earned income to supplement your retirement nest egg)
- The climate
- Proximity to the beach (if that’s important to you)
- Level of Third-Worldness…how much culture shock are you up for?
- The language (especially important if you’re certain you’re not interested in learning a new one)
- Established community of fellow expatriates (is there one?)
- Relevant tax code (that is, what taxes will you be liable for as a foreign resident?)
- Living here, could you get around using public transportation or would you have to invest in keeping a car?
- Museums, art galleries, live theater, opera, good restaurants (do they exist?)
- Golf, fishing, boating, diving, tennis, etc. (that is, would you be able to practice your favorite sportsman’s hobby?)
Here’s the bad news: No place in the world is going to check every one of the boxes on your list. So you’ve got to prioritize. That is, you must admit to yourself not only what’s important to you, but also what’s more or less important to you…and, critically, what’s most important to you.
Considering all the options and trying to identify which ones might work best for you can be confusing, complicated, time-consuming, even frustrating.
So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to publish a Retire Overseas Survey. We’ll consider the world’s top retirement havens. Not countries…but regions, cities, and towns. As I point out often, you aren’t going to retire to Panama, Uruguay, Ecuador, or Brazil. You might, though, do well to consider retiring to Las Tablas or Boquete… Montevideo or La Barra…Cuenca…or maybe Maceió…
For each retirement option included in our Retire Overseas Survey, we’ll look at every item on my list above…plus many others. We’ll show you how each thin-sliced retire-overseas choice rates on each important retire-overseas issue you must consider when determining your world’s top retire-overseas Shangri-la.