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What to Consider When Retiring Abroad – It’s Not All About Logistics

I had been visiting India for a decade when The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was released in 2011. I can see why Judi Dench’s character, Evelyn, wanted to stay and retire in India. The film painted a bleak, bland future in the UK for her and some of the film’s main characters.

While it is tempting to look yonder for greener pastures in retirement, there are some critical considerations to make before deciding to retire overseas.

Often, people are not warned of traps to look out for and instead hyper-focus on the ‘big move.’

And it is a BIG move.

You have researched all the usual ‘moving-overseas’ logistical advice.

What else can you do to increase the chances of your Overseas Retirement going smoothly?

Attitude is Everything
Are You Escaping?
Know Yourself and Your Needs
Crisis Planning for Worst-Case Scenarios
Travel Time to Relatives
Climate
What Will I Do Here? – Your New Lifestyle
A Word on Tax/Finances/Migration/Healthcare
Conclusion

Attitude is Everything

Now, a new ‘attitude’ is not something you can go and obtain overnight!

Hopefully, you are already the type of person (or people) with personalities and an approach to life suited to dealing with changes as you have made the big step to live abroad.

But it helps to be prepared for things to change, even if you have planned meticulously (i.e. tax laws, health crisis, etc).

Another helpful attitude quality is to bear in mind the inevitable adjustment period with any new living circumstances.

It requires energy to make such a huge life change. Understandably, your coping skills may take a hit for a while.

Knowing that things may go sideways (even backwards) may help your adjustment and help you accept it can happen anywhere.

(Remember, things also probably went wrong back home sometimes!).

A realistic perspective is a valuable asset for anyone moving abroad, temporarily or permanently.

Are You Escaping?

And this brings us to the old saying about grass and how green it seems over there!

If you have moved to escape something in your former life, this could present an added challenge in your new life.

Of course, you can always expect the odd, petty grievance to appear.

However, thinking the sunshine will solve all your problems (no matter how much extra vitamin D you get!) is not particularly helpful or realistic. It can trap you in a new life worse than the old one.

Addressing personal issues could help if you feel this might have crept into the equation.

The reason is, if you move and realise the grass is, in fact, the same colour as home, the unexpected disappointment could upset your well-planned new phase of life (plus cost you a fortune to return).

Know Yourself and Your Needs

Only you can know if you will be successful in your new overseas life.

No one can tell you your priorities, and no one can advise you on everything.

Opinions from others are just that – opinions.

You will be the one embarking on a life-changing adventure. You will be the one facing new frustrations.

And only you will know those intangible things you are looking for from life overseas.

If you are satisfied with your decision and enjoying your life in the new environment, that is the primary goal.

Many people will probably have an opinion on your BIG Move. Some might be jealous or feel you are making a mistake.

Hopefully, by retirement age, you have realised how to block out the ‘noise’ (I suggest earplugs).

Crisis Planning for Worst-Case Scenarios

And now to a serious matter – Crisis Planning.

People often warn about the inevitable ‘rainy day’, but few prepare for it!

It’s hard to imagine or visualise what hasn’t happened. You don’t want to think negatively.

But your quality of life may hang on a few thoughtful moments on this topic.

Think about if the following were to happen to you after you leave your home country –

  • Death of a Partner
  • Relationship Breakdown/Divorce
  • Income loss
  • Domestic Violence
  • Illness
  • Illness of a relative
  • Victim of a Crime
  • Civil Unrest
  • War
  • Natural Disaster
  • Change of Immigration Laws

Pre-planning for “disastrous” eventualities can assist your peace of mind and hopefully prevent a further financial or life crisis, should any of these situations happen.

And it is more important than if you were in your country of origin.

You may have additional logistical challenges and less social support should these unfortunate events occur while abroad.

Finding the right specialist or expert who has moved abroad can be difficult, and it’s even harder to find stories where things go awry.

But things go wrong sometimes, and people can find themselves in distressing and complex situations.

An action plan for such eventualities could lessen the stress and inevitable fallout.

You may unearth problems, such as unknown legal or migration issues or tax obligations.

TIP – next to the above dot points, write down an exit plan or response to each “disaster” and how you would deal with them.

Travel Time to Relatives

How far you are away from friends and family is another factor to consider when moving abroad.

If the distance to get back home is too great (or the flight schedule is difficult to reach you), it may impact your quality of life (in terms of how often people can’t visit).

Social isolation can be the reason people decide to return home.

(Having said all this, some people deliberately try and get as far away as possible!).

Climate

There is a reason people move to Florida, Mexico, Queensland, The Caribbean and parts of Europe and Asia – and not Alaska! (Apologies to those who have done this, however).

Climate is an enormous reason to move to another country.

It impacts so many areas of the quality of your life.

The outdoor lifestyle and related activities are a big draw card in countries with pleasant climates.

There are plenty of articles about the health benefits attributed to warmer countries.

Warm countries may sometimes come with added expenses for energy costs if air conditioning is required, however (but the same can be said about heating too).

What Will I Do Here? – Your New Lifestyle

There are no ‘rules’ about how to live your overseas life.

You can live in an identical style to back home if you wish, only with better weather!

But moving abroad does afford exciting opportunities not always available at home.

You may have always wanted to learn a new language. So, it might be the perfect time to do this now (and it’s a little easier to pick up after immersing yourself in the culture).

Other ‘cultural’ experiences such as cooking, arts, travel and history could take up your time and leave little room for that swim or game of golf!

(Of course, you could always sleep under a palm tree all day!).

A Word on Tax/Finances/Migration/Healthcare

Because of the possible complexities of moving your life to a different country, it is (almost) essential to consult experts when considering a complicated overseas life move.

You can, of course, go it alone, especially if you’re a stickler for details and love rules and paperwork.

Even with expert help, it’s hard to always get everything “right” with such a move.

Laws change, rules change, and the unexpected can happen.

But hiring the right people to assist you can mitigate all this.

If you need help, consider hiring a migration specialist and financial expert.

It’s also nice to have someone who knows what you will be going through.

Conclusion

Retiring abroad is a dream for many people.

Choosing a place that suits you is a privilege and a luxury.

There are many potential obstacles to navigate with such a move, and you may not get it all perfect. For the brave, you will have a whole new and exciting world to explore.

Good luck with your new life abroad!

Jennifer is the author of the ‘Personal Disaster’ book series and is working on a Special Edition Immigration Guide for people temporarily or permanently moving abroad.