The Secret to an Enjoyable Expat Retirement: Location, Location, Location
As with all things real estate, at the end of the day there’s one factor that dominates when it comes to retiring abroad: location.
As someone wanting to retire abroad, the world is your oyster. There are as many places to go as there are retirees – but not all of them will give you the retirement of your dreams. Some may prefer Costa Rica’s eco-tourism and lifestyle, while others feel more at home in Spain’s well-appointed cities.
So how do you choose?
Consider the following factors when making the big decision. These broad categories will help you narrow down the type of place you want to go (at least until you start to take other things, like weather, into account).
Also, for more on an expat retirement, don’t forget to take a look at the rest of the articles in this series. We’ve covered everything from healthcare to the basics of preparing for life as a retired citizen of the world.
First: Cost of living
For some retirees, low living costs are a nice side benefit to a retirement spent traveling and experiencing a new culture. For others, they’re the main driver behind the decision to move abroad.
Depending on your personal financial situation, it’s important to have a grasp over how important a low cost of living is for you.
- How much do I have to spend each month?
- Where are my potential shortfalls?
- What financial risks am I facing?
If you’re comfortable with your financial situation and aren’t looking to dramatically cut costs, that’s great: you’ll have a few more options available to you when deciding where to go.
If money is an issue, you’ll want to focus your search on places with lower living expenses than what you’d face in the US. Various countries in Latin America and rising retirement hotspot Malaysia offer a very competitive cost of living and could help you stretch your retirement dollars a bit further.
Second: Required amenities and resources
If you’re in perfect health and looking for adventure, you might not be concerned about whether you’ll have easy access to English-speaking doctors and specialists. But if you’re managing a chronic illness or have other health concerns, this could be a top priority.
Excellent doctors can obviously be found around the world, but some are easier to access than others. Living in a small town several hours from the nearest hospital could be a problem if you need consistent care – as could living in an area without specialized medical infrastructure.
Similarly, you might have other priorities or needs you’re not willing to compromise on. Maybe it’s a significant personal issue, like having a house of worship nearby that’s in line with your faith. Or maybe it’s the ability to carry out hobbies or favorite activities, like fine dining or a particular style of yoga.
Whatever your personal needs are with respect to local amenities, be sure to identify them from the outset. This will help you eliminate places that are clearly a bad fit and help you hone in on high potential regions, cities, and even neighborhoods.
Third: Accessibility to foreigners
It’s related to amenities and yet it’s important enough to warrant its own line item.
Ask yourself: is the country you’re considering set up to accommodate foreigners, and specifically foreign retirees?
Not everyone prioritizes expat infrastructure. After all, some people need little more than an English-language tourist map when moving to a new place, while others like to know that there are dedicated services that can help with the transition.
Just consider this: the older you get, the harder it could be to adjust to a whole new way of life, a new language, and a completely different way of doing things. A country that has a healthy level of tourist and visitor infrastructure can ease some of the transition and make it easier to settle in.
At the end of the day, the life of an expat is exciting. Everything from pumping gas to paying taxes could end up being a new learning experience.
That’s part of the fun – but knowing your limits is an important part of finding the right fit when it comes to your new retirement home. Make sure you have a solid understanding of your needs before setting off into the sunset, and you’ll help ensure a happy and harmonious life as an expat retiree.