Is Overseas Retirement Right for You?
After you've been lured by the low cost of living; after you've been razzle-dazzled by white sandy beaches or towering mountain views; long before you sell everything you own and move off to a foreign land, there is one question that still needs to be answered:
Is overseas retirement right for you?
Does the thought of watching your grandchildren grow up via e-mail cause you pain? If so, you might not be ready to make the leap across the pond just yet. Family separation issues are a leading reason that overseas retirees pack it up and move back home.
How's your patience level? If getting your driver's license renewed in your home country makes your nuts, wait until you encounter the bureaucracies in countries where it can take weeks to get a telephone installed and hours to send a bank wire.
An ex-pat I know lives on a beautiful tropical island where the electricity goes off without notice at least once per day and has stayed off for a long as 20 hours straight.
Do you have the ability to pick up new languages easily? Sure, while many people do speak English as well as their native language, that doesn't mean that they're going to speak it to you. A friend who lives in France found that many people simply refused to serve him if he did not address them in French even though it was obvious that they knew English.
Even if you do encounter English-speaking people, the odds are pretty good that you'll need to know a bit of the native language to show respect for your host country, communicate to those people who do not know English, read local signs and newspapers, and help expand your social circles.
Investigate the legal system of your target retirement country. There are places where driving while intoxicated comes with a death penalty. And while smoking a little pot in the privacy of your current home might not draw any legal attention, it could get you a serious prison term in your new country. Oh, and you can kiss the protection of your country's constitution goodbye. Those rights do not follow you to new lands.
Do you make friends easily? Remember, you're a stranger in a strange land. Even if you move into an established ex-pat community, you're still the new kids on the block and there is no guarantee that you'll have an instant social circle waiting for you. You'll have to earn your friendships in your new community just like you did where you live now.
Check the racial, religious, and national origin tolerance levels before you move. If you happen to violate the local "acceptability" standards, results could range anywhere from harassment to life-threatening violence.
Retiring overseas is an exciting lifestyle for some. Make sure that it's the right choice for you. Always have an exit plan just in case you want to move back home.