Retirement abroad -
For many people, the opportunity to spend their retirement abroad is a dream. The prospect of leaving the often miserable British climate behind is an attractive prospect. However, moving abroad is a life changing step. There are lots of factors you need to consider before you toss away the scarf and gloves and don the somebrero.
Factors to consider:
Assuming you don’t want to live in nomadic poverty, this is a major consideration. Your pension may be frozen at a certain rate or linked to the cost-of-living, depending on which country you move to. The UK Government website has some information, and there is a document in the House of Commons library that gives more information. It goes without saying that you should only use credible sources to obtain this type of information.
Numbeo.com provides some data on relative cost of living in each potential location, and of course the are numerous Facebook groups that provide current and local experience.
Other financial factors will include the stability of the currency, banking arrangements and the cost of importing goods from the UK. Brexit has made that more expensive of course, but that’s a subject for another day.
Retirement abroad means giving up some things which you have previously taken for granted, like free health care. Gov.uk has advice for living in EU countries, again more expensive after Brexit (you might detect a theme here).
If you choose one of the more exotic areas of the world to live, healthcare costs (and availability) are certainly one of the factors to consider. There are sites that publish guidance, and this subject needs in depth research.
Distance from home
Australia and New Zealand are popular choices for retirement abroad, from UK at least. Although the culture and climate appeal, returning to the UK involves a lengthy and expensive flight.
Retirement to less popular locations like Panama reduces the flying time, but flights are less frequent and may involve airport transfers. And of course, an expensive mistake to make if you retire abroad and later regret it.
Living in a country is not the same as holidaying there. Sunshine every day might sound attractive, but the sweltering heat of Florida in August may not appeal after the intitial excitement has worn off.
European Union countries such as Spain and Portugal have been the most popular retirement abroad choices in recent years. The distance from home issue is solved, there is a large expat community on tap and the area is familiar to most from holidaying. Brexit … (no, not going to mention that again).
But the reality is that retiring to a foreign country imposes at least a moral obligation to learn the language, if not a practical one. It possible to get by using the common British tactic of talking loudly and slowly in English, but it won’t endear you to the local population. And not much help when you are with the Doctor, dentist or lawyer.
There will be other cultural considerations – nightlife, religion, clubs and societies, sport. If you are going to have an enjoyable retirement abroad, you need to assimilate with the country you are in. In my opinion.
This used to just involve the state of the roads, utilities, phone system etc. But a reliable internet connection is now an essential factor in a retirement abroad choice. Connection with home is possible, the ubiquitous Zoom has made family chats easy, and the web is now a critical resource for the essentials of life. It also opens up the possibility of part time work. Or side hustle, as our American cousins would say.
Once again, detailed research is required. Not just in the choice of country, but also in the region and town that you favour. Not least because, with not internet you cannot read view my latest Instagram post. (Plug)
Retirement abroad – one of life’s dreams. But you have to be practical, recognise the pitfalls, research endlessly. And remember that perhaps the other man’s grass may be greener after all.