For most Americans, thoughts of retirement bring on mixed emotions. On the one hand, you cannot wait to finally get up out of your office chair or take off your work shoes for the last time. On the other, you have questions: Have I saved enough to live comfortably in retirement? Will I have enough money left over to provide for my family?
If you are asking yourself these types of questions, you may want to consider retiring overseas. Retiring overseas offers numerous benefits for US citizens, with the financial rewards being chief among them. With the news filled with stories of retirees who are struggling to make ends meet despite prudent planning, if you are approaching retirement age, it may be time to consider relocating abroad.
Five Reasons for American Citizens to Retire Overseas
Here are five of the top reasons why retiring overseas is, for many US citizens, a great idea. Of course, everyone’s personal circumstances are unique, and you should consult your legal and financial advisors before making any decisions about retirement:
1. You May Be Able to Retire Earlier than You Could in the United States
First and foremost, you may be able to retire overseas before you will be prepared to retire in the United States. Depending upon the region of the world (and even the specific country) you choose, your cost of living could be significantly less abroad. Many Americans seeking to retire comfortably look to locations such as Central America and Southeast Asia, where their money can go much, much farther than it does in the US.
When making the decision to retire – whether in the US or overseas – financial stability needs to be your top priority. By retiring overseas, you may be able to stretch your nest egg by saving on things like:
- Health care
- Real estate
- Energy and utilities
- Culture and entertainment
The key is to do your research. To start, visit countries’ official travel and tourism websites, consult your professional advisors, and talk to retirees who have already made the move.
2. Technology Makes It Easy
With today’s technology, moving overseas is easier than ever before. You can find weather data, exchange rates, and language translations instantly on your laptop or Smartphone, and you can stay connected to friends and family from almost anywhere in the world. If you want to write, consult, or pursue any other income-producing activities during your retirement, as long as you choose a location with a (reasonably) reliable internet connection, you will be good to go.
3. There is an Entire World of Retirement Hotspots (and Off-the-Grid Locations) to Choose From
If you retire overseas, where will you go? While the endless list of possibilities may seem overwhelming initially, you can quickly begin to whittle down your options by examining your priorities. For example, answering the following types of questions can help you arrive at a short list of retirement contenders:
- Do you want to be around other expats? Do you want to completely immerse yourself in a new culture? Or, do you want to disconnect from the world entirely?
- Do you speak any languages besides English? If not, are you interested in learning a new language?
- What type of climate do you want to live in? Do you like to see the seasons change? Or, are you looking for warm and sunny weather 365 days a year?
- What creature comforts do you desire? Are you a person who needs paved roads and easy access to non-essentials? Or, are you comfortable living (literally) off of the beaten path?
- How is your health? Can you afford to live several hours away from the closest medical facilities, or do you need to be close to healthcare for regular treatments or in case of an emergency?
Whatever you desire for your retirement, there are locations abroad that will meet your needs.
4. You Can Still Collect Social Security
One question that many soon-to-be-retirees have is whether they will still have access to Social Security benefits if they retire overseas. The answer is: Yes. You are entitled to collect the benefits you have earned regardless of where you choose to spend your silver years.
5. You Can (Finally) Feed Your Hunger
Let’s not forget about the reason why most people look forward to retirement in the first place. By moving overseas, you can feed your hunger for whatever it is you desire. Do you want to wake up every morning with a view of the ocean? Do you want to spend your days visiting museums and bodegas? Do you want the wilderness to be right outside your door? Do you want to try new foods in an exotic culture? When you choose to retire overseas, the possibilities are endless, and it is up to you to make life what you want it to be.
BONUS REASON: It’s Not as Difficult as You Might Think.
Despite most people’s reservations, retiring overseas is not as difficult as you might think. While each county has its own unique residency requirements, most countries where expats choose to retire have laws that make it fairly easy for foreigners to start their new lives. Sure, you will need to deal with customs and immigration, but this too can be easy as long as you plan ahead.
Five Considerations Before You Make the Decision to Retire Abroad
Indeed, planning ahead is crucial when it comes to retiring overseas. Before you settle on your final destination, here are five important considerations that you will want to keep in mind:
We touched on physical access to healthcare above, but it is important to consider healthcare costs, as well. Healthcare is far cheaper in some countries than others (though nearly all locations are cheaper than the US). If you choose a country that has socialized medicine or a public health plan, you could pay as little as $10 for a doctor’s visit or $50 per month for quality coverage.
2. Crime and Safety
Before you buy or rent your new home, check crime statistics – both nationally and locally. Similar to the US, most countries have certain areas that are safer than others.
3. Cultural Considerations
In addition to any language barriers, make sure you familiarize yourself with local norms and customs. What is an acceptable greeting? Is eye contact appropriate? Should you attempt to bargain with shop owners? You do not want a lack of cultural awareness to lead to a rocky start in your new home.
4. Residency Requirements
Since you will (presumably) be staying for a while, you will most likely need to establish residency. While some countries require you to earn a certain amount of income in order to qualify, others grant residency to anyone who owns property domestically.
5. Estate Planning
Finally, before moving abroad, it is critical that you take a close look at your estate plan. It will almost certainly need changes or additions based upon your move, and you will want to be sure to address these before you go.
Planning to Retire Overseas? Contact Jiah Kim & Associates
If you are considering retiring abroad, Jiah Kim & Associates can help you prepare. To get started with an initial consultation, call (646) 389-5065 or inquire online today.
This blog post is written for educational and general information purposes only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. You understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the blog publisher. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.