Costs – Costs will vary depending on the destination selected. While overall costs may be cheaper some items can be substantially more expensive than in the States. Typically cars are more expensive almost everywhere. Also any item not readily available will be more expensive including some foods if they have to be imported. This is especially true on island locations.
The Culture – While some countries are westernized and similar to the U.S. life in others may come as a cultural shock. If you are adventurous and curious you may find it easy to adapt to cultural and ethnical differences. You may find the new location, the people, the history and the food to be inspiring and educational. If you are set in your ways the change may be a little more difficult.
An extended stay before making the permanent move can help you decide if the cultural differences may be a deal breaker.
EXPAT communities – Some people retire overseas for a complete change from their current lifestyle. That may include their English-speaking neighbors and friends. For others it may be important to socialize with others who have similar backgrounds. There are large EXPAT communities in some countries. Typically you find these in the larger cities. Some find access to the EXPAT community comforting especially during the transition period, which may last from a few months to a few years.
Healthcare – One of the priorities for most who move overseas is the available healthcare and associated costs. It is likely that whatever health coverage you have in the U.S. will not provide for healthcare costs overseas unless you have an international insurance policy. Medicare will not pay for services with the exception of a few rare situations.
Available healthcare will vary depending on where you retire. Typically the larger cities have more options with larger hospitals, more doctors and a larger support staff. Smaller areas will typically offer health clinics and individual doctors’ offices.
Many find that paying out of pocket for basic healthcare needs is cheap enough and do not require insurance coverage. But a policy should be maintained for other more extensive healthcare needs. A consideration should be given to policies that provide for airlift costs for critical medical problems if local facilities cannot provide the needed services.
Climate – The climate at the retirement destination is a priority for many. Many seek to retire in tropical regions while others will look to cooler mountainous areas. Some may find that moving to a location that has a single summer season, sunny and hot every day, is heaven while others may have trouble adjusting if they are coming from a four-season location.
Taxes – anyone moving overseas should carefully review the tax requirements of that country. It may be advisable to consult with a tax adviser who is familiar with the tax policies of the country. Some countries may tax income whether earned locally or from abroad, there may be property tax implications and many countries have various other taxes including sales taxes.
Staying active – Retire overseas to a location that addresses your lifestyle requirements. If you are physically active search for a location that provides for outdoor activities (swimming, hiking, biking, skiing, etc.), for the arts and culture find locations that provide museums, music, festivals, ancient ruins, etc. For some a quiet laid-back life is retirement heaven. Many regions have small towns with beautiful scenery to accommodate that lifestyle.
Patience – Patience is a requirement when moving overseas. For some the pace at which things get done can be infuriating. Things that can be accomplished within hours or days in the U.S. may take weeks or months overseas.