I recently spoke with friends (a couple that plan to retire in a few years) about what they will do once retired. They surprised me when they said that before they retire they would visit several countries in Central America and Asia to check out possible places to retire.
They are a very youthful, active couple with many friends and a family scattered in nearby States.
I am not sure that I could settle outside the U.S. and leave my family behind but I researched possible issues facing those who decide to become EXPATS.
Some of the issues I found raised in various EXPAT forums and elsewhere follow.
Communication and agreement – Retiring overseas is a major life decision for anyone. It is important for couples to communicate and carefully plan for the move. It is a good idea to thoroughly research the destination and agree that both you and your partner want to move to the selected location.
Do not decide to move to a location where you vacationed for a few days. Rent for an extended period of time to understand the culture, the way of life, the pros and cons of moving there.
Relationship isolation for couples – Some people I know who retired a few years ago (in the US) found that it was difficult for them to adjust to retirement. Part of the problem was a result of the 24/7 “togetherness”. These people worked their entire adult lives and spent an average of 8-10 hours per day together. As soon as they retired they were together almost all the time.
Of course this problem may vary, or turn out not be a problem for others depending on how many friends and hobbies they have.
The reason I mention this as related to moving overseas is that this problem may be exacerbated by a move overseas: you may know few if any people, may not speak the language, have trouble adjusting to the culture and thus be with the only one you know 24/7. And that may spell trouble for your relationship.
Family and Friends – The relationships you have with your family and friends may play a big part in any decision to move away. I know several people who talked about retiring and moving but once their grandchildren were born that discussion quickly ended. If you see your family and friends frequently it may be more difficult to move, especially overseas.
Technology has helped to somewhat alleviate the proximity issue. With the use of social networks, email and especially real-time video (Skype, Facetime, etc.) contact with your family and friends is much easier these days (although Internet access may be an issue in some countries). Getting together for birthdays, holidays, etc. may not be as easy and will probably be costly. Easy accessibility to airports can be important for those who plan to travel back and forth.
Residency – Requirements vary from country to country related to residency. Some countries require that you deposit a sizable amount of money in a bank account before you can move there, while others may require a minimum monthly income from a pension, Social Security, etc. Property ownership may be enough to establish residency in other countries.
Property ownership – While some countries welcome ownership of property, others have restrictions or bans of property ownership by foreigners.
Amenities – It may come as a shock that a simple task of running down to a Home Depot to buy a part to repair a broken pipe, or getting something quick to eat at a fast food place, or coffee at your corner Starbucks will all become history in some overseas retirement destinations. While many EXPATS may view this as a plus others may find this to be an annoying inconvenience.