Weighing the Pros and Cons: What You Need to Know About Retiring Abroad

Amanda Greenberg

Adults who’ve spent the majority of their lives hunched over an ergonomic keyboard crave the obligation-free days of retirement. Besides allowing you to settle into your golden years and recover from the wear-and-tear of corporate living, retirement can swing open the door for new experiences, fuller relationships, and a new-and-improved, self-care-oriented mindset.

Many folks who have already retired often remark on the joys that follow when work is no longer the top priority. You can focus truly on yourself and carve out more time for loved ones. For those with an irrational fear of free time, you may be on the hunt for an exhilarating new challenge or hobby to fill your freed-up days. If this is the case, retirement could be the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to the global adventures you cast aside to advance your career. 

For many folks who choose to travel after they retire, the consensus is that charting unfamiliar territory keeps senior citizens on their toes. Not to mention, retirees who travel, especially as a part of a group or with their families, can combat the isolation that many seniors fear will set in once the regular human connections at work are no longer there.

Some retirees, however, are making plans beyond a weeks-long vacation. Many folks are dedicating their retirement to overseas relocations. With an increasing number of folks setting their sights abroad, hordes of retirees have migrated to tropical (and senior-friendly destinations) like Medellin, Colombia, Bilbao, Spain, Panama, Malaysia, and Mexico. Why relocate? For starters, ex-pats who retire to international locations can flee icy-cold temperatures and enjoy relatively low living costs compared to the U.S. 

If you are on the fence about retiring abroad, this list will walk you through some pros and cons to help you decide if this type of retirement adventure is right for you.

Cons

The lengthy moving-overseas checklist

Up and moving to a different country is not as simple as obtaining a passport and finding a place to stay. With an international move, you’ll need to take even more steps than you would if you were relocating within the states. For example, you’ll want to update any vaccinations, create a healthcare plan, and make sure your finances are in order before you ship out. 

Additionally, you’ll need to plan your packing list very meticulously. You perhaps may not want to ship a container of all your old furniture to your new condo in the tropics. But, depending on the transportation situation in your new location, you may need to move your vehicle with you. To accomplish this, you’ll need to plan and schedule your auto transportation via providers like Guardian Auto Transport.( www.guardianautotransport.com )

Potential language barrier

For many retirees in the process of choosing a location in which to retire, the prospect of learning a new language can intimidate even the most confident travelers. While some seniors may scout out loopholes to learning a second language, your English will only get you so far—unless you set up camp in a tourist destination. 

However, many expats will tell you that learning the language native to the place you move to will not only make your day-to-day life easier but will help you gain acceptance with locals and make you an overall better neighbor. 

Moving away from friends and family

If you are an individual who relies on family and friends’ in-person support, retiring abroad may be emotionally wearing. Depending on where you decide to relocate, seeing folks from back home in person may become a costly and lengthy journey for yourself or those who come to visit. For those who are concerned, technology like FaceTime and Skype are helpful in this arena. 

However, if you find yourself with very few things tying you down to the US, moving abroad could be the nudge you’ve needed to kickstart your new adventure. 

Pros

Lower cost of living

Retiring overseas can help you attain more valuable life lessons and spend less in life post-career. In many countries, particularly in Latin America, average living costs are significantly lower in countries outside of the US. 

You could easily live on $2000 a month. As such, your retirement savings and Social Security pension will stretch a lot farther, leaving you to enjoy prime housing locations, delicious local food, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be had while exploring your new home. 

High quality and affordable healthcare

Many retirees are concerned about the state of healthcare should they decide to move abroad. However, any lingering concerns over the quality of care you’ll receive abroad aren’t rooted in reality. Many expats say that the government-run healthcare systems in other countries provide quality care without the cost or stress that many folks experience when navigating the US healthcare system.  

Freedom of choice

Retirees who choose to spend their days abroad can reward their years of hard work with an enhanced sense of freedom and adventure. When sunbathing within walking distance of tropical waters, you no longer have to worry about a monotonous life spent at home. Instead, you’ll be able to dip your toes in the foreign cultures, languages, and traditions that present themselves when living overseas. 

About Retire Early Lifestyle

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired three decades ago at the age of 38 and began traveling the world. As recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel, they have been interviewed about retirement issues by The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, The Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter, nationally syndicated radio talk shows and countless newspapers and TV shows nationally and worldwide. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement (Your Simple Path to FIRE) and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
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