To retire overseas is not just for the rich and famous anymore. Many more people are considering to retire abroad than ever before. And the main motivation seems to be cost.
When you compare your current cost of living with some enticing possible retirement spots in today's Global Village, the decision seems to be easy at first glance. But the perfect spot for one person could be a nightmare to the next person.
It is all about your expectations. What do you want for your retirement? If cost of living is your top priority, you'll probably have to accept some levels of crime and challenges regarding medical care, transport, and the lack of a social support system.
Many expats that I talk to would indicate that they relocated because of the cost of living, but when you delve deeper, it seems that the weather and climate might be the most compelling benefit. No climate is perfect, but some countries or cities do have atrocious weather. And many retirees would like to get away from it. Permanently.
In retirement you have time to go for a walk. In fact, your daily passegiata becomes a non-negotiable event. And it is so much more pleasurable if the weather is agreeable most of the time.
But – in my opinion – the most compelling reason to retire abroad is about quality-of-life. When I retired some eleven years ago, my wife and I were living in the Ticino province of Switzerland on the shores of Lake Lugano. We lived and worked in many countries across the world, and it took time to adapt to the Swiss Italian lifestyle and officialdom. But at retirement time we could not think of a better place in the world to retire.
We always loved it to travel and experience the lifestyle and culture of the various interesting communities of Europe. After retirement we had the time to do that. If we were not on such a trip we were planning another trip!
But after nine years of enjoying this lifestyle and our home base's quality of life, we decided to go home. We missed our family and friends, our children and grand children, our language, and our church.
To our surprise, our homecoming was not entirely easy. It took us longer to adapt to the lifestyle and officialdom at home than it took us to adapt to Southern Switzerland eleven years ago!
Fortunately, we rented an apartment and in a depressed economy we could walk away without having to sell or care for an apartment in Switzerland.
To summarize – based on our experience – retire abroad by all means, but do it early during your retirement. And rent rather than buy your house or apartment. Realize that you might want to go back home sometime or another. Don't burn your bridges prematurely.
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