Should You Retire Abroad?

By William G. Beamer on October 1, 2015
Categories: RETIREMENT

There are many reasons why some Americans want to live abroad when they retire. Here is the most obvious:  In some countries, you can live much more cheaply while enjoying a life style equal to or better than the one you had before retiring.

In some countries, healthcare and housing expenses can be 50% or less of what they cost in the U.S.

Here are nine things you should consider before retiring overseas:

1. Consider the cost of living.

Many countries that are popular with retirees are inexpensive compared to the U.S. To get a handle on how far your money will stretch, head to, which offers international cost-of-living calculators.

2. Investigate health care.

You will want to know if your health insurance will cover you abroad and also what kind of healthcare you can expect when you move. Medicare does not provide health services overseas. The cost of healthcare and its quality can vary significantly by country. Two resources to research insurance issues are the Travel Insurance Review and International Medical Group.

3. Understand the tax implications.

Moving overseas won’t excuse you from your obligations to the Internal Revenue Service. You will owe taxes on your income no matter where you live. The IRS will also expect you to pay taxes on any assets that you move to a foreign country.

You can learn more about the tax rules for living abroad on this IRS site.

4. Research popular expatriate destinations.

Check out countries that frequently make the lists of best countries for American retirees. These include:

  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador
  • Ireland
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Thailand

5. Start reading.

A good resource to check out is The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget: How to Live Well on $25,000 a Year. This highly rated book provides information on a wide variety of issues including climate, healthcare, culture and costs. It also provides a rundown on what retirees can expect to find in individual countries. The authors, Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher, are both writers for International  Living Magazine. They left Nebraska in 2001 and have lived in various countries in Latin America since then.

6. Check out forums for expatriates.

There are many expatriate forums on Facebook where you can learn more about what it’s really like to live in specific countries. You can ask Haskins and other experts questions about living abroad via International Living’s forum.

7. Can you handle the culture shock?

You will be leaving friends and family behind and most likely some of your possessions. Can you handle the separation? Also, life can be slower than what you have been accustomed.

8. Can you handle the climate?

Many popular destinations tend to have hot and humid climates.  Others can be chilly with lengthy rainy seasons. Don’t overlook the weather in your decision.

9. Be careful when purchasing property.

Ripoff artists thrive in countries that are popular with retired Americans. Be careful when purchasing property and consult a lawyer knowledgeable in this area. Property ownership laws can be different for foreign nationals.


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