Leaving the comfort of your home to live in another country can seem daunting to anyone—couples or singles. But since single people must make all the decisions and create a new life for themselves alone, the experience will naturally be different.
But don’t worry, it is just as great and sometimes even better when you go solo. The most important rule is don’t expect that your life will be the same in the new country. This statement sounds like a given, but you would be surprised at how many people think that’s the way it should be.
Evaluate WHY you want to move abroad
The decision to move abroad is yours and yours alone and you will be much happier if you go for the right reasons. As we know, many people run away from problems, thinking they will disappear. Understand that reasons like these will most likely follow you wherever you go.
However, moving because you will not have enough money to retire in your home country is a very valid reason. People don’t realize that retiring abroad can cost 50% to 75% less than you would pay in the U.S. or Canada. And the lifestyle is often higher than you are used to.
If you hate the cold, move to a place with a sunny, warm climate. While some of you may love the climate where you reside now, literally hundreds of places around the world probably have better weather than where you live. If you want to reduce the general stress of running around, getting stuck in traffic all the time, having to be in two different places at the same time and worrying about how you are going to pay next month’s rent, moving abroad can help you.
Choose your country well
Make sure you select a country that will provide things that you like to do. For example, don’t go to a place where the biggest activity is snow skiing if you don’t like to ski or you hate being cold. But DO go to a country that provides a lot of salsa dancing if that is something you love. Do you prefer to live around mountains or a beach?
Make a list of things you like to do, your dream climate, the food you like, and research countries to select one that matches your likes and has as few of your dislikes as possible.
Get your finances in order
Couples generally have more streams of income than a single person. It is a good idea to see a financial advisor to see how much money you will have coming in with all assets considered, including social security when you initiate the benefit.
Knowing your bottom line retirement budget helps you in the selection of the country where you want to live. While countries that we describe all have less expensive lifestyles than the U.S. or Canada, they can range from $1,000 to $3,000 a month and if you are just going to live on a $1,500 social security check, you don’t want to move abroad to a country that will cost more than that.
Consider your health care options
You are the master of your own health. If you have several illnesses and take different medications, moving abroad may not be for you. Specifically because you are alone, select a country that has decent healthcare, so it is something you are not worrying about all the time. The good news is that many U.S. and Canadian citizens on statin drugs, blood thinners, and blood pressure medicine have miraculously been able to give up these medicines when they found that their stats normalized once they moved abroad.
Retirees abroad tend to walk more; swim more; eat healthier fresh food without hormones, wax or paint; and generally live a healthier life. Just make sure if you must take a certain pill, that you can get it in your new country.
Make new friends
Couples may or may not wish to live in an expat community; they have each other and may not need many friends. For a single person, it’s a good idea to move to a city that has expats. First of all, there are always expat hangouts and you can feel comfortable going alone. Someone will see you by yourself and start talking to you. And that’s how it begins. One person will introduce you around and you will start getting invited to parties. Not everyone will suit you—even if they are from the same home country, but you will have quite a few new people to socialize with.
You can frequent the expat produce markets, the bars and restaurants that feature live music in English, and join the expat Facebook groups.
Learn the language of your new country and start now
Don’t assume that everyone speaks English. While learning the language where you live is the respectful thing to do for everyone, it is especially important for a single person. People who do not learn the language generally do not have local friends.
Even if you aren’t fluent, knowing how to speak a little Spanish or French (etc.) opens up a whole world of new friends who will come to your rescue if you need help or can provide some important information that your expat friends won’t have.
Go and have the time of your life
Don’t be afraid. In many ways, it is easier to move abroad than to move to a new city in your own country. In the U.S. and Canada, it is often harder to make new friends when you are older and single. This is not true abroad because the expats are all in the same boat—from all walks of life—and it’s in their interest to be friendly to newcomers. And locals are very welcoming if you can speak the language.
Cherish the fact that as a single, you can be the real you, you don’t have to answer to anyone. When I lived in San Diego, even though I had many friends, I felt lonely on the weekend if I didn’t have any plans. When you move abroad, every day seems like a vacation and for some reason I’m just as happy if I have something to do or nothing at all. The weather is perfect, I have no financial worries, and friends from all over the world who I can see whenever I want—or not. And you can too—just do it!