A move abroad in 2011 could save you money and improve your quality of life. Here are four compelling reasons to consider retirement overseas.
1. Reduce your cost-of-living, maybe dramatically. I can’t predict that you will reduce your personal cost-of-living by a specific amount by relocating to another country, because I don’t know how much it’s costing you to live where you are currently living or what kind of lifestyle you would want to adopt in your new home overseas. I can tell you with confidence that it’s possible to live a comfortable, interesting life in many beautiful, welcoming, safe, and sunny places on a budget of $1,200 per month or less. Coincidentally, that’s currently about the average Social Security payment, meaning you could retire overseas and live well on your Social Security income alone.
When considering the cost of a new life in a foreign locale, remember to compare apples to apples. Don’t compare the cost-of-living on the coast of Ambergris Caye, Belize, or the Pacific coast of Las Tablas, Panama (two of my top retire-overseas choices for 2011) with the cost-of-living in a small land-locked town. To get a real idea of how costs stack up, you have to compare living on Ambergris Caye with living in Key West and the costs of a new home in Las Tablas with the cost of one on the coast of Southern California. Do this, and you’ll understand why these two spots in particular offer a tremendous opportunity if you’re looking for a waterfront retirement. If you’re up for a more exotic and adventure-filled retirement, consider Thailand, Malaysia, or Vietnam, where you could live comfortably on your Social Security income alone, even on as little as $600 or $700 per month.
2. Enjoy eternal spring or summer. In Boquete, Panama, Cuenca, Ecuador, and Medellin, Colombia, three more top choices for 2011, temperatures seldom rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit and never fall anywhere near the icicle range. These are lands of eternal spring. If you prefer it hotter and seriously sunny, consider Granada, Nicaragua, a Spanish-colonial jewel of a city with an established expatriate community, or Panama City, Panama, the most developed and cosmopolitan capital in Central America.
3. Escape the hustle, strife, worry, and woes of 21st-century living. In places like Cayo, Belize, Mendoza, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay, the day-to-day ups and downs of the NYSE, the U.S. dollar-to-euro exchange rate, and TSA airport screening procedures are vague and far-away notions, not inescapable topics of the daily news and cocktail party conversation. In some parts of the world, it’s still possible to make your own reality. I’m not suggesting you stick your head in the sand. Even in out of the way and under the radar frontiers like Cayo and Mendoza, you can watch CNN on satellite TV if you really want to. But you can turn it off when you’ve had enough, go outside, breathe in the clean, fresh air, and make a life for yourself and your family in a beautiful, back-to-basics Shangri-la where the good life isn’t at the mercy of the daily ups and downs of global markets.
4. Reinvent yourself. What did you want to be or do when you grew up? What childhood dreams did you put aside to make a living, build a business, or raise a family? Now, by choosing to launch your retirement in a new country, you can dust off those daydreams and make them come true.
U.S. baby boomer retirees are healthier than any American retirement generation that has preceded them. They’re looking forward to decades of healthy retirement living. Why spend it marking time, making due, and scraping by? In undeveloped, emerging destinations across the planet, you’ll find it easier than you might imagine to reinvent yourself into whatever you’d like to be.
Consider starting a business. The unfilled niches in the under-developed world are many and irresistible for entrepreneurially inclined Americans. There is also a need in many places for volunteers and teachers with maturity, experience, and expertise.
Learn to play the piano, dance the tango, or become a painter. Once you settle into a wholly new and foreign environment, you’ll find your imagination refueled and your mind more open than ever. Unpredictable, unexpected opportunities will present themselves at every turn. Before you know it, your new life overseas will bear little resemblance to the one you left behind. Retirement will be the adventure of your lifetime.
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.