The first and perhaps most important step you must take to retire overseas is to picture what you want your new retirement life to look like. To give yourself the best chance of making a successful move abroad, take this quiz.
Print out the following questionnaire and then settle into a comfortable spot. Take time to respond to each question completely and honestly, and write down your answers in full for future reference. If you’re intending to make your move overseas with a spouse or partner, I recommend that you respond to all questions together.
Where to Retire Overseas Questionnaire
1. Do you enjoy a change of seasons?
2. Do you need regular sunshine?
3. Do you mind rain?
4. Can you handle heat? Humidity?
5. Do you prefer a varying length of day?
6. Do you have a pre-existing health condition?
7. Are you older than 75?
8. Would you be uncomfortable seeing a physician whose first language is not English?
9. Do you lose your cool if you can’t send an e-mail the first time, every time you try?
10. Does your work require reliable Internet service 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
11. Would you mind living on a dirt road?
12. Would you mind your road access being temporarily cut off during the rainy season?
13. Do you need American television? Would you be unhappy without American football on Sunday afternoons?
14. Will you mind if the electricity goes out?
15. Would you be comfortable owning a car and driving yourself around in a new country? If not, think about places where you could afford a full-time driver or where a car is unnecessary.
16. Would you want to travel outside the country often, either to visit family back home or generally? If so, consider how far it is to the nearest international airport.
17. Would you be unhappy without your favorite comfort foods? If so, consider places with access to international-standard grocery stores.
18. Will chaotic, uncontrolled, unregulated traffic make you nervous?
19. Do you require disabled access?
Accessibility to the United States
20. Do you have children or grandchildren you want to see regularly?
21. Are you going to be keeping a home in the States?
22. Will you have some ongoing business concerns back home?
23. Do you have a health condition that could necessitate a quick return to the U.S.?
24. Do you speak a second language?
25. Are you terrified at the thought of learning one?
Culture, Recreation, and Entertainment
26. What’s your favorite thing to do on a Friday night?
27. How would you rather spend a free Sunday afternoon—in a museum or taking a long walk in the woods?
28. How regularly do you want to be able to dine out, watch a first-run movie in English, visit an art gallery, or attend the theater?
29. What would you like to see from your window? The water? A mountainside? A busy street scene?
30. From where will you derive your income in retirement?
31. Will you have earned, pension, dividend, interest, rental, or capital gains income to account for? The source of your income has a lot to do with your ultimate tax liability, both in the U.S. and in your new jurisdiction.
Education and Schools
32. Will you be moving with school-aged children?
33. Are you a woman moving alone?
34. Are you moving with children?
35. Do protests bother you?
36. Do you speak the local language? If not, you may sometimes feel uncomfortable even if there’s really no cause for worry.
37. Have you spent much time outside your home country? If yes, you’re probably better prepared for situations that might otherwise seem worrisome.
38. Are you afraid of spiders or snakes?
39. Will you mind adjusting to the metric system?
40. Will you mind having to pay rent and utilities in person?
41. Are you patient? Will you mind waiting 20 minutes for a 3-minute egg?
42. Are you generally adventuresome? Do you like to try new things?
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.