There are many reasons to think about retiring in another country. In some beautiful, sunny, friendly, and safe places around the world, a modest retirement nest egg could buy you a comfortable, interesting, and adventure-filled retirement lifestyle. But could you really do it? Can an average person leave family, friends, home, and hearth behind and take off for exotic foreign shores at this stage of life? Here are some retire-overseas success stories from readers.
Panama. "This July I retired from the Miami-Dade County government after 33 years of employment. In August, I flew to Panama. I'd been there only once before, but I had done research via your e-mail newsletters. On Oct. 2 I moved into a marvelous mountain cabin about 7.5 kilometers up Volcan Baru. I plan to be here for at least the next six months and maybe to base myself out of this paradise while I travel the world over the next five or six years, spending six months each year in the cabin and six months elsewhere. I also happen to be a 56-year-old totally blind man. I am pursuing this adventure solo unless, of course, some charming young lady would like to tag along." -George G., 56
Belize. "I am a single, divorced, retired female from Texas, who is currently living in Belize on Ambergris Caye. I retired here at the beginning of August and plan to live here at least until the end of January. Following your advice, I took out a six-month lease to see if this is where I want to grow up." -Hyta F., 62
Costa Rica. "My evolution has been from survival retirement at age 62 to what has become the most fun and rewarding part of my life today, 10 years later. In that time, I have developed successful tour and home construction businesses in Costa Rica. I have built a network of expats and Ticos who are working with me to accomplish more than any of us could have dreamed possible.” -George L., 72
Mexico. "My wife and I retired in 2003 at the ages of 54 and 53, respectively. We moved to San Antonio Tlayacapan on Lake Chapala in Mexico in 2005. Two years ago, we bought a house in La Manzanilla del Mar on the Tenacatita Bay, just a three-minute walk from the beach. It is now our primary residence. We have also kept our $320-per-month, two-bedroom rental in Chapala. We sublet the house to an American snowbird for 6 ½ months a year. The rent covers more than 10 months of our costs each year. We think that we are living the ideal life, splitting our time between the ocean and the largest lake in Mexico." -Jonathan P., 60
Mexico. “My husband and I purchased our 100-acre ranch on the Pacific coast of Mexico five years ago. I am a certified financial planner, and my husband is an architectural photographer. We are in our mid-50s. Here in Mexico, we have developed a solar-powered off-grid campground. This year we will begin our sustainable community." -Holly H.
Multiple places. "I retired to the South of France a couple of years ago, but find the winters harsh. Just before I retired, I had the pleasure of being posted to Goa, India, for one month and vowed to go back. I did, and I loved it as much as I remembered for the culture, countryside, and the wildlife. However, problems with visas persist, so I have to look for another place to hang my hat longer term. Panama or Belize sound like good options, and I will continue to investigate those possibilities. I am attracted to the wild a little more than the big cities, so Belize has a stronger pull for me, I think." -Anne K.
Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.