Showing posts with label moving abroad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label moving abroad. Show all posts

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Should You Move or Age in Place When You Retire?

Many people look forward to relocating after retirement.  They think of this period in their lives as an exciting adventure, and they can't wait until they have the opportunity to live somewhere new.  While this works out well for many retirees, a number of people are making the conscious decision to age in place.

It is easy for a blog like this to focus primarily on all the amenities that are available to the people who move somewhere new after retirement.  We have covered a variety of options including different home builders, retirement communities and locations around the world that are attractive to retirees (see the indexes of articles at the end of this post).  Some of these locations have been selected because they offer a luxurious lifestyle; others were chosen for their affordability; a few were selected for their exotic locations.  However, not everyone is prepared to uproot themselves from their friends, families and homes in order to move to a new location.  Before you decide to relocate, there are certain issues you will want to consider.

Retirement Planning Questions to Ask Yourself

Here are some questions you should consider before you move somewhere new:

Will you be lonely if you live far away from your children, grandchildren, and friends?  While many people easily make new friends after they move, I have also known retirees in our retirement community who have become lonely and depressed.  Rather than joining clubs and taking part in new activities, some people isolate themselves.  If you are one of these people, you may not want to make a change.

Will you be comfortable with the new climate?   We have some friends who recently moved from the Napa Valley of Northern California to a small town near Lake Michigan.  They have suffered through several blizzards and had their electricity cut off during freezing weather.  They moved there in order to be near their youngest grandchildren.  However, they are both in their 70's and this harsh climate has been hard on them.  Extreme winter climates are not the only consideration.    Some people find that they have difficulty dealing with the heat in popular retirement locations like Florida, Arizona and Palm Springs, California.  You may want to rent a home in a potential retirement area for a year or two before you decide if you are going to be happy living there permanently.

Are you willing to travel long distances to visit your current family and friends?  My parents moved from Missouri to Florida when they were in their early 60's.  Now they are in their 80's.  They used to enjoy the road trips they took to go back to Missouri and see the rest of the family.  Now they don't want to travel at all any more, whether by car or plane.  It has been four years since they went back to Missouri for a visit.  This is an especially important issue to consider if you decide to move overseas where it could also be difficult for your family members to visit you.

If you lose your spouse, would you still want to be in your new location?  If you don't think you would want to stay in your new community permanently, you may want to consider renting rather than buying your retirement home. In some cases, people even decide to become Snowbirds.  They keep a small home or condo in their current location and rent or buy another condo or home at their retirement destination.  In this way, they maintain their connections in both places. 

You also need to consider whether this is a place where you would want to live alone.  As one reader pointed out, if you move to a new location to be near your children, would you still want to live there if your adult children moved away because of a job change?  Would you want to remain in the new location if your spouse died?  You need to think carefully about these issues before you pack up your belongings and move to a new location.

If you decide to move to another country, are you prepared for the legal complications? You may want to read "Why Retire in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands or Guam."  It explains some of the legal issues to be considered in moving to another country, and it suggests that you may wish to consider living in one of our exotic US territories, instead.  It is currently the most popular article ever written for this blog.

If you need extended medical care or a nursing home, where would you want it to be?   Health problems can cause sudden changes in your retirement plans.  We had some friends who were house hunting in Ecuador when the wife had a brain aneurism.  Fortunately, the doctors in Ecuador were able to save her life (which says a lot about the medical facilities there).  However, once she recovered, they came to the realization that they did not want to be that far away if something else happened in the future.  They decided to return to the small Texas town where they had both grown up and where they would be near family and friends.

Finally, where do you want to be buried?  Although most of us do not want to think about this, it is something we should consider, especially if we decide to move overseas.  Do you want to have a funeral in a location where few of your current friends or family members will ever go?  Would you want your body to be returned to the United States for burial?  Will your heirs be left with enough money to do that?

Once you have considered all these issues, you will be better equipped to make the decision that is right for you.  If you do decide that you prefer to age in place rather than move to a new retirement location, my next blog post will cover some of the resources that are becoming available to people who decide to remain in their current neighborhoods after retirement.

If you want to learn more about the options that are available to you after you retire, check out the articles listed in the index links below.  Click on the category that interests you and it will open up to an introduction with a list of articles on that topic:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of retirement poster courtesy of

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Risks of Living Abroad

Over the years, this blog has included a number of articles that suggest beautiful and exotic places to consider if you are interested in living overseas.  Many of these areas, such as Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador and Panama, have well-established communities full of American ex-patriots and there are agencies which are able to provide you with tours of the countries and help you find your dream home.  It all sounds idyllic and the perfect way to spend your golden years.  However, I would be doing my readers a serious disservice if I left everyone with the impression that life is always perfect in these developing countries.  Here are just a few incidents that I have heard about from people who thought they were going to improve their lives by moving overseas.

Costa Rica and the Pacific Ring of Fire

As a resident of Southern California, I shouldn't express concern about earthquakes.  We have experienced several of them, and there has been no significant damage in our area as a result.  However, we have a young family friend who teaches school in Costa Rica and  they have had a 7.6 earthquake there.  Neither she nor her students were injured in the earthquake, but she reported that she had a difficult time getting home because of the damaged roads, mudslides, and similar hazards.  Fortunately, once she did arrive home, she was able to use a computer and let all of her family and friends in the U.S. know that she was safe.

The Pacific Ring of Fire is the term used to describe the coastal areas that surround the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.  This Ring of Fire includes many of the places that are frequently under consideration by people who are moving abroad.  Among the countries included in the Ring of Fire are Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Philippines, Panama and all of Central America and Southeast Asia, including Thailand.  The earthquakes that occur in these areas can be very severe and do significant damage to the local infrastructure.

Serious Medical Problems Experienced while Living Abroad

Many Americans travel to other countries in order to obtain inexpensive medical treatments.  This is called medical tourism and often involves elective or cosmetic surgeries that are very expensive in the United States.  It is not unusual for many less developed countries to have fabulous hospitals that cater to medical tourism.

However, last spring a retired couple we know were exploring the idea of living abroad in Ecuador.  They had researched it thoroughly, made arrangements to rent a house for a couple of months, and signed up to start their Ecuador experience with a tour of the country.  Halfway through the tour, the wife collapsed when an aneurysm in her brain burst.  The tour company took her to a high quality hospital where they were able to stop the bleeding in her brain and repair the aneurysm.  The medical facility did an excellent job on the repair, as attested by her American doctors.  However, she was very lucky.  It took the tour company eleven hours to get her to the appropriate hospital.  This couple is back in the United States and they have dropped the idea of moving overseas to Ecuador or any other foreign country.

When our young friend who is teaching in Costa Rica became sick with an identified infection about a year ago, she was sent by the school where she worked back to the United States in order to receive better treatment.  Although the American doctors were unable to determine the cause of the infection, she is now healthy and has returned to Costa Rica.  However, it is interesting that she needed to return to the US in order to get the medical treatment that she needed.

A California Family's Experience after Moving to Belize

Readers may also want to read the new book, "Freeways to Flip Flops," (available from Amazon using this link).  It is about a Southern California family's experience when they moved to Belize.  They sold their home in Lake Forest, California and moved their entire family there, including their teenage sons.  In a little over a year, they moved back to California.  They spent their time in Belize dealing with scorpions, rats, smelly drinking water, heat and humidity.  They were dissatisfied with the educational opportunities for their children.  The husband attempted to work from Belize; however, the computer system was so unreliable that he lost his job.  There were many other problems that they experienced, as well, so it might be worthwhile to read this book before you decide to make such a dramatic move.

Do not expect to find life in a foreign country to be like your life in the United States.  There will be inconveniences.  Our young friend in Costa Rica eventually moved to a gated community there, after her home in the local town was robbed.  Her home in the gated community was considerably more expensive ... similar in price to homes in the United States.  She also has bars on the windows and still has to deal with plumbing problems, huge spiders, etc.  She loves living there and has no plans to move back to the U.S.  However, living overseas does require some flexibility.

The Bottom Line on Moving Abroad

If you are the adventurous type, you may discover that living in another country is not a problem for you.  Like our young teacher friend, even if you run into difficulties you may fall in love with your new country and decide to stay, no matter what inconveniences you experience.  In fact, this young woman has now married a Costa Rican businessman, and they now have a one-year old daughter.  This has made her even more cautious about her home's security.

When I wrote posts that recommend different countries where you may want to live, I do not want to create the impression that everything will always go well.  There will be challenges and inconveniences that may grow tiring after a while, especially as you get older.  The important thing is to be realistic and aware of some of the problems you may experience before you make such a life altering decision.

Looking for more ideas about where to retire?  Use the tabs or list at the top of this article.  They will connect you with hundreds of additional articles on where to retire, financial planning, medical issues, changing family relationships and other related information.

You may specifically want to read:

Best Places to Retire Outside the US
American Retiring in Panama
Live in Ecuador Comfortably on Social Security
Retiring in Luxury to Hua Hin, Thailand
Why Retire in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands or Guam

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credit: