Retiring abroad is something that increasing numbers of people are doing, and approximately one in eight people has at least given some thought to moving abroad. It makes sense that this would be the time in life that people would pick – retirees are statistically the most likely to be able to afford it, and don’t have so many work commitments to get in their way – but it is still something that needs to be thought about forensically.
Before you start the ball rolling on a house purchase and start ringing around overseas removalists, you need to be able to answer in the affirmative to a few questions. These are set out below, and we’ll explain why they matter.
Are you financially stable enough?
As already noted, the time when you are most likely to be financially able to move overseas is once you’ve retired. Retirement savings, plus any potential investments and possibly the proceeds of a house sale can make for a pretty solid nest egg. However, the upfront costs of moving overseas are often eye-watering. You’ll need to find a place to live, furnish it, secure residence permits and possibly have all your stuff shipped internationally. After all of this is taken care of, you’ll need a substantial contingency – because while you’ll always hope the move goes smoothly, you can’t count on it, and you’ll need to be prepared for emergencies.
Have you fully prepared for leaving?
When picturing a new life abroad, it’s natural to imagine the simple, pleasurable bits. Walking on a beach in Costa Rica; going out for brunch in Portugal. It’s very easy to talk yourself into going abroad. On the flip, you need to picture some other moments, too. Will saying goodbye to friends and family cause you to regret your decision and start second-guessing it? You’re going to need to have some conversations, and think about what it really means to move abroad. This isn’t to discourage you, but there are some realizations you need to have before you move.
Have you thought about the day-to-day?
Again, we are often attracted to moves abroad by the idea of big, almost cinematic moments in picturesque spots somewhere magical. This is exactly what the honeymoon period in a new place will be like, but you’re not always going to be newly-emigrated. The Maltese coast is beautiful, but Maltese people live with it everyday and they don’t live their entire lives in paroxysms of ecstasy. Once the novelty wears off, how happy will you be living in a place? Have you learned enough of the language to pay a check in at your bank? Don’t get distracted by a “grass-is-greener” feeling: if you can imagine the more banal elements of everyday life in your new country, and still love the idea, then you can commit to it.
It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of retiring abroad, and it’s certainly a viable step if you’ve considered all of the points above. What you don’t want is to suddenly realize the complications when you’ve already moved, because that can sour what should be a wonderful experience.