Retiring Abroad Part 2: Serious Consideration

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico by Luz Y Oscuro

If you've done some initial investigating , and did not immediately say “That's crazy! No way would I move overseas for retirement!”, if it appealed to you at all, then you may want to move on to more serious consideration of the idea. This entails honest self analysis. Moving to another country should not be taken lightly!


So ask yourself these questions and be honest in your answers without judging or dismissing them...after all it's just you thinking thoughts at this point.


Why do I want to consider a move abroad? What is my motivation? What are the possible benefits?

There are as many reasons people consider an international move as there are people doing the considering, but these are some common ones.
  • Financial aspects: Quite simply, many retirees and near retirees find too many sacrifices are needed to live on their budget at home, and there are many places in the world where one can get more for their money. We discussed affording retirement here.

  • Quality of life: Less stress, more leisure time, and more opportunities to be active and involved are very appealing, as most people want to actually enjoy their retirement

  • Adventure and Learning: Moving to another country with a different culture will absolutely include many new and educational experiences

Am I flexible and adaptable in general or is very difficult for me to accept change?

Some people are able to abandon the old and embrace the new seemingly without effort or doubt. Some have little to lose and everything to gain, so when faced with even huge change, the choice is clear. Others need more time to say goodbye to their previous lives and adjust to their new ones, but manage to do so without undue stress. And some find it very difficult to let go of the familiar and adapt to new surroundings or ways of doing things. It's all, again, very individual.

How do you feel about moving far away from friends and family? Is international travel for visits going to be enough time with them? How do you feel about communicating with people with a different native language, or even having to rely on translators for various transactions and functions (e.g. filling out forms)? Will you try to learn the local language, or stay close to ex-pat communities where people know and speak English? How about cultural differences, do you find them interesting to explore or bewildering? How do you approach new experiences like unfamiliar food? Can you live with lower incidence of modern amenities and less stable infrastructure?

The idea of retiring abroad is to improve your life. Stress, regret, and even depression do not further this goal at all.


What are the significant risks/areas of concern

For retirees especially, inaccessibility to adequate health care should definitely be included in this answer. Health care costs and the quality of facilities vary greatly. This should be a major topic of intense research.


Some countries offer universal health care and some do not. Some allow non-citizens to participate in the universal system. Some do not.
Also, in some countries, the standard of health care is not as high as it is in other countries. This deficiency in the standard of care could apply in general, or it could apply to localized areas of the population. For example, in some countries there is a large discrepancy between good and bad hospitals. If you have the money, often care is of a very high standard. The opposite is also true, unfortunately.


Although healthy individuals may feel fine paying cash when they see that a doctors visit is $25 or a hospital stay $30 a day, you should still look into a safety net for major illnesses, because good health now does not mean you won't get sick later. You also may want to research coverage for emergency evacuations and air transport to your home country in the case of a catastrophic injury or illness. There are International health insurance companies as well as local insurers who work with familiar multinational corporations, so knowing all of your options will help you make an informed decision.

Lack of general safety from crime is another risk that should be explored. While the news stories we hear about violent crime in other countries are often exaggerated or misleading, there are definitely places where the safety of travelers and ex-pats is a serious concern. Ex-Pat forums and blogs are good a resource to learn from people who are there, “on the ground”, and the US State Department offers quite a lot of country specific information. It should be noted that the US is considered very violent and unsafe to many people in the world, so consider the source and limited perspectives when looking at advisories and crime statistics.

Additionally, you might want to know about the working relationship between your home country and the new country you plan to live in. What, if anything, would your country of citizenship do to help ex-pats and travelers in an emergency such as natural disaster or war? Is there an embassy? What are the repatriation regulations? Can you get legal help if needed?

Below are some perspectives about the crime in Mexico as it relates to PuertoVallarta, home to about 50,000 ex-pats. There are similar stories about another favorite for Canadian and American retirees, Merida. Some are writing off the whole, beautiful, close, inexpensive country as unsafe, when in fact most areas are as safe as similarly sized cities in the US.



As when you are considering any major, life changing event, make a list of pros and cons, gather the best information you can, and explore your own motivations before making the leap. You may not want to stall out on this step, however. The more retirees that move to a country, the higher the prices there tend to go. What was a very low cost country to retire in a decade ago is now not affordable to many people.


Here is a small sample of books available on Amazon:




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