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Is Retirement In a Foreign Country a Viable Option?

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    Ok, my dad has thought of this, and has told my mom many times "I could retire right now, and we could move to Thailand, and live like royalty there." It seems as though my dad isn't the only American considering becoming a expat. Many advantages exist for those who consider retiring in another country. Of course, these pros don't come without their cons. So I looked into it. Found a decent article that lays it out on Forbes.

    One of the main advantages to retiring abroad, especially in place like Mexico, Portugal or Spain is the U.S. Dollar goes a long way. What costs an arm and a leg in the states could be pennies on the dollar(quite literally) in other countries. Another consideration would be changing locations where the climate is more hospitable, such as the beaches of Thailand. One very important consideration is healthcare. We all know healthcare in America is a joke compared to many other countries. Places like the countries listed above, including Korea offer amazing healthcare to Americans. This would be an excellent advantage for those retiring with health conditions.

    So what are the cons? There are few, but they don't necessarily outweigh the pros, in my opinion:

    Do you have family obligations?

    Do you have an ailing family member who needs you near, either for healthcare reasons or in case of an emergency?

    What are you thoughts on being a minority in another country?

    In many countries, Americans can be spotted from a mile away. Are you ok with a language barrier? Are you willing to change with and learn a new culture altogether? It isn't difficult to navigate another country. But it should still be considered.

    Some other considerations from the Forbes article:

    Politics—How comfortable are you with other rules of government and law? Are you comfortable with a socialist or communist government? How about a dictatorship?

    Attitude Toward Americans—Would you be comfortable overcoming negative attitudes about who you are and where you come from?

    Likelihood of Natural Disasters—Have you had experience living with the threat of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, or volcanic eruptions? Are you comfortable with the likelihood of one or more of these?

    Health Care—How healthy are you currently? Do you need constant monitoring for a health condition? How attached are you to your current doctors?

    Language/Communication—Do you speak another language well enough to converse about important issues? How willing are you to learn another language? Are you willing to take classes to learn another language?

    Ease of Travel—Do you want or need to travel back to the United States frequently? How easily do you travel?

    Entertainment & The Arts—How important to you is American TV, opera, symphony, museums, and theater? Are you willing to give up the kind of entertainment you are used to?

    Shopping—How important is the ability to shop in places like Trader Joe's, Nordstrom or Target? Will you have trouble giving up the opportunity to buy what you want easily and quickly?

    Infrastructure and Technology—How attached are you to 24/7 electricity? Fast Internet speeds? Uninterrupted phone service? Will you need these for work?

    In my opinion, it's totally doable still. It should be considered at least once before you retire. Does anyone agree? Are there cons that I missed? If you do agree, where would you be fine with being an expat? I'd live in Spain myself. :)

  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
    Think you hit all the pros/cons/considerations very well. I am definitely considering it as an option for myself, further down the road. I think it all comes down to your life situation when the times comes. But for me, situation permitting, I'll definitely be looking at any country where the ocean can be seen from my window.
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    Relocating abroad is certainly doable for people with comfortable savings and retirement accounts, but it's not something those with less means will likely ever be able to do.

    There are many barriers to moving abroad that people have to take into account before they pull the trigger. For starters - expats are still required to file income taxes every year if they don't want to run into any problems with the IRS. That may not be an issue for people with means, but it's a big barrier for those who are moving abroad with a goal of saving money. Another thing to understand before you move is that cost of living savings aren't necessarily a guarantee.

    My wife and I live in Lima, Peru for six months when we were dating a number of years ago and found that we were actually spending more on living expenses than we were in the states. A one bedroom apartment in a "safe" part of Lima wasn't much cheaper than a one bedroom apartment in Portland. Both of us were financially stable and able to afford the extra perks, but not everyone is able to do so. And Peru is still a developing country, which means that what we paid was likely far less than more established countries in South America.

    I'm not remotely suggesting moving abroad is a bad idea, but it's definitely not for everyone. It's something that shouldn't be done on a whim, but after exhaustive research. The last thing anyone would want is to leave everything behind in search of better things only to find out it's not as sunny on the other side as they originally thought.