Retiring Overseas Isn’t Like Jumping Off a Cliff

You can make the transition gradually and come home if it doesn’t work out.

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Retiring overseas doesn't have to be all or nothing. You could reinvent your life in a new country and still spend part or even lots of your time back home in your old one.

Kathleen Peddicord
Kathleen Peddicord
The idea of moving to a foreign country full time can be intimidating. Selling your current home, car, furniture and lawn-care equipment to fly off to a new country where you know no one and where everyone you meet speaks another language can seem foolish, even crazy.

So don't sell your home. Keep your car if you like it. Lock the lawn mower in the garage. Pack a few bags, and head off to someplace that's got your attention for a month or two. Don't even think about buying a house or anything else. Rent something small and modest. Or arrange an extended stay in a bed and breakfast or guesthouse. Keep it low key and low pressure.

Retiring to another country doesn't have to be like jumping off a cliff. You can ease into the idea. Then, if you find the place you take for a test spin disappointing in some way, you can return home (Remember, your car is waiting for you in the driveway.) and begin planning your next "retire overseas" holiday. Give someplace else a chance.

You could continue like this for years. You can enjoy some of the benefits of a new life in a new country, including a maybe dramatically reduced cost of living, better weather, more affordable medical care, new friends, grand adventures and luxuries you probably can't afford now such as full-time help around the house. But you will also have a safety net. What you'll find is that, with each retire overseas foray, your confidence will build and your plan will evolve.

The next step may be to extend the length of each retire overseas vacation. You could spend three or even up to six months at a time in each new place, depending on the jurisdiction's residency restrictions, thereby avoiding the visa issue.

You could begin renting out your place back home when you're not using it. This income would help to subsidize the expense of your retire overseas wanderings.

You could, eventually, invest in a place of your own in a location you decide you like well enough to want to return to regularly. Then you could rent out this apartment or beach house when you're in the U.S. to further supplement your retirement income.

Maybe, eventually, you will find you're ready to sell your place back home, because, as time passes, your connection there seems less and less important. More interesting are the new places you're discovering, the new friends you're making and the new adventures you're having.

Take it one step at a time and let your retire overseas plan develop organically. Just as there's no one-size-fits-all overseas retirement haven, neither is there a retire-overseas plan that suits everyone. This idea is infinitely customizable, and you don’t need to know which form your retire overseas adventure will ultimately take when you launch it.

So keep it simple. Take a trip.

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 28 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her newest book, How To Buy Real Estate Overseas, published by Wiley & Sons, is the culmination of decades of personal experience living and investing around the world.