Top Strategies for Retirement Abroad

If you on the fast track to retirement and are seeing your retirement savings deplete and your plans get sidetracked, you may be wondering if you can retire at all, much less earlier than planned.

With a few simple strategies and ideas there are a couple of ways to salvage your retirement plans.

Funding your retirement: No matter what your age, start your retirement planning now. If you retire early you’ll need to be sure you have enough money saved, or have other sources of income, to finance your retirement. If you qualify for Social Security you will need to research places that fit your budget.

There’s never been a better time to stop spending and start saving. Every little bit of money you put away now can be enjoyed later. Continue to build your retirement investment nest egg.

Where to retire: One of the key strategies of your retirement planning should be deciding where you will move to. There are several resources where you can find information about places with better weather, lower taxes, or lower crime rates than where you may be living now. The problem is that you may not get the entire picture from these resources so a fact finding trip is advisable.

You need to know the best place to retire, where you can live very well on your retirement savings, a Social Security income, or even less. Places where you can live in comfort and security and not have to give up a single necessity, luxury or activity that you so well deserve after a lifetime of working.

What to do when you get there: Once you have settled into your new home country you may be thinking, ‘well, what’s next?’ Many expats expect their lives to be completely different after they have made the move including the person they were before they left. This is not always the case.

Expats and IL editors and correspondents share their words of wisdom about retirement strategies.

IL’s Uruguay Correspondent David Hammond says, “If you want something you’ve never had before, you have to do something you’ve never done before.” Perhaps there is an overseas location right for you and if you have had a shake-up in your life’s direction you should consider all your options. “In a different pond, you are no longer just another duckling, but a swan.”

IL’s Cuenca, Ecuadoreditor, Edd Staton thinks that answering a simple set of questions can make your decision to retire overseas a lot easier. “Is my glass half full or half empty? Do I feel the pull of life abroad? Is my spouse on the same page? Are my expectations realistic? What do I really want?” These questions can eliminate the stress and help you to make the right decision.

Paul & Gloria Yeatman, who moved to Costa Rica, are firm believers in joining in. “Learn the language and actually speak it. Don’t limit yourself to just expat friends. Become part of the local scene.” This is something that can be implemented in any country and brings with it opportunities and benefits of its own.

IL’s Vilcabamba, Ecuador correspondent, John Curran says, “Don’t change your lifestyle to suit some place else; find a place that fits the lifestyle that you truly want.” The difficult thing is deciding what you truly want and not what you think you want.

Suzan Haskin advises to weigh all the factors that are most important to you then stand in the town plaza and check your gut. “If you get a warm little tingle about the people who live there – both local and expat – you’ve found your spot.”

When weighing the factors she urges that you don’t choose a place for the cost of living along. “Choose it because it fits your profile. Cheap isn’t always better.”

There are 12 steps that people preparing to move overseas should follow:

Step One: Make a list of your personal priorities and preferences—whether they are health care, good infrastructure, a low cost of living, proximity to the U.S. Consider which priorities are most important to you.

Step Two: Make a list of the world’s top overseas havens. You can see International Living’s report on the world’s top retirement havens here.

Step Three: Consider the pluses and minuses of each country. See more country options here.

Step Four: Narrow your list of countries to no more than three or four.

Step Five: Cut the list to one or two countries.

Step Six: Meet with the tax man.

Step Seven: Decide how you’re going to use your new home.

Step Eight: Meet with an in-country residence expert.

Step Nine: Narrow your list to one, and decide what’s going with you.

Step Ten: Set up a portable global office.

Step Eleven: Look into international health insurance policies.

Step Twelve: Rent a home in your chosen haven before committing to buying property. If you rent for a month or two, you’ll have a better idea if it really is the retirement haven for you. If not, you can always leave and try some place new.

A foreign retirement isn’t for everyone, of course. Family obligations may be an issue for some people. Others might be uncomfortable in a place where they don’t speak the language. But if you’re the adventuresome type…or if you’ve dreamed of living in an exotic location–maybe on a sultry tropical beach, in a pristine mountain hideaway, or in a sophisticated, culturally rich city–with better weather and a lower cost of living, retirement overseas may be for you.

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