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Retirement is the beginning of a new life. Choose where you live very carefully.

Updated on August 1, 2008

10 considerations before moving abroad permanently

In many ways retirement is like a new beginning where you are no longer shackled to a job location and therefore the freedom to relocate anywhere in the world becomes overwhelming, just because you can.

Having lived abroad most of my life, I have discovered that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side and that, no matter how idyllic the country I am living in, the one thing I cannot live without is my family.

That said, not everyone will feel the same but there are still some very practical problems to moving abroad for retirement and you should weigh the pros and cons very carefully.

1- Do you speak the language of the target country? No matter how big the expatriate community in that country there will be times when you need communication with natives.

2- Will your pension be paid (and indexed-linked) in that country? Bear in mind that if the currency is different the amount you get will vary.

3- In some countries, property, inheritance and tax laws are very different and you will be subject to them as soon as you become resident. This may not be to your advantage and you will need to do thorough research.

4- Some countries are simply not safe either politically (if they are not long-established democracies, a regime change could mean you lose everything overnight) or crime is rife and who wants to spend their time looking over their shoulder?

5- As you get older, the availability and quality of medical care, not to mention the cost, become paramount.

6- Making new friends can be very difficult as you retire and you could feel isolated. Expatriate communities can sometimes be very clicky or made up of people with whom you have little affinity.

7- Until you actually live in the country you will not be able to discover the true cost of living and when you are on a fixed pension, this could be a big problem.

8- You need to know that the climate is suitable for you. If you have gone on holiday to the target country, you will not have been able to experience the climate all year round and you could have a nasty surprise.

9- Leaving your friends and family behind might not seem a big wrench until you do it. After several months you will realize that they are no longer an integral part of your life and worse you are no longer an integral part of theirs.

10- You may think that, with cheap flights you will have no problem returning home or bringing the grand-children to see you but flight routes are constantly changing and airlines go out of business so that can never be guaranteed.

Obviously, don't let me put you off, people still retire abroad very successfully but I think you must consider all angles and do thorough research before you take the plunge. Ask yourself why you want to move abroad and will that move answer your needs. Also consider moving to a completely different part of your own country. All countries have holiday areas which could address some of your issues without all the problems associated with moving abroad.

Finally, I would advise you to try before you buy. Go and rent a furnished place in your target country for a year to give you a chance to get to know the area and the people. At the end of that period, you will either loathe it or love it. If you loathe it, return to your home and no harm has been done. If you love it, you will have gained useful knowledge and possibly friends to smooth your transition to living there permanently. Best of luck.


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    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 

      12 years ago

      Great Hub, thanks for the thoughtful information. Keep up the good work.

    • desert blondie profile image

      desert blondie 

      12 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      Nice advice! Retirement is a huge adjustment, that's for sure, getting input like this is great. Thanks for sharing!


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