BY KEN AND DARIA DOLAN
AMERICA’S FIRST FAMILY OF
Millions of Americans think of IT from time to time… millions dream of IT…
and millions have already made the decision to do IT.
IT is making the decision to live outside of the United States.
No snow shovels, scraping ice off of your windshield, hurricanes, tornadoes, sub-zero temperatures…no 9-5 rat race environment…just balmy ocean breezes, world-class sunsets and new experiences. It is estimated that more than 8,000,000 Americans
have discovered that it’s easy and often more affordable to create new lives and broaden their horizons outside our hallowed shores…and the number is growing.
Some may be fulfilling a lifelong dream, while others are looking for ways to stretch the value of their nest eggs…others have left to work. It is exciting to experience new cultures,
a lower cost of living, learn a new language and make new friends in a leisurely, stress-free environment. But be sure to do your research before you purchase your one-way ticket to paradise! No country is perfect. Some places are better for visiting than for living long-term. Hidden costs and lifestyle trials can be a drag for those retiring abroad…and being older does not make it easier. However, property prices and the cost of living, including food, transportation and excellent healthcare, in many countries is inexpensive, compared to many parts of the U.S. and downright cheap when compared to living in most of Europe.
In this article, thanks to our “go-to” source of living abroad information, internationalliving.com, we will pass along a sampling of the living costs in some of their highest-rated retirement locales…and tell you their #1 choice of 2016 retirement havens. Although it depends on from where you’re coming, to where you move and how you choose to live, your cost of living in many retirement havens is highly controllable. While some costs are set, many expenses, including those that constitute the majority of your budget, can be scaled up or down.
OKAY…where to begin to research the best destination for you?
This year, in their annually-released 2016 GLOBAL RETIREMENT INDEX, internationalliving.com scored 24 countries across 24 categories such as Buying & Renting,
Let’s take a very brief look at each of the Top 3 locations on the Index.
Top 10 on this year’s Index…#1 – Panama… followed by Ecuador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Columbia, Thailand, Nicaragua, Spain and Portugal.
PANAMA…bustling, vibrant and exciting metropolis…dinner
for two, including wine at a fine restaurant is $40…high quality
healthcare…rent for a two bedroom apartment – $350 to $1500
per month…monthly budget including rent, water, groceries,
etc., is $1922 to $2765.
ECUADOR…enviable quality of life…guarantees foreign
residents the same rights as its citizens…temperate climate…
easy to retire on less than $20,000 per year for a couple…
monthly budget including rent, utilities, groceries and a
maid…$1555 per month.
MEXICO…natural beauty, first-rate healthcare, a wide array
of outdoor activities…choice of temperatures by region…near
to the U.S…monthly budget for two including rent, utilities,
groceries, entertainment, healthcare, etc., is about $2340, the
cost of a small studio apartment in New York City!
Benefits and Discounts, Cost of Living, Fitting In,
Climate, Healthcare…and more.
Challenges? Yes…but not insurmountable.
Since many financial organizations are closing accounts for Americans abroad or declining to open new ones in order to avoid increased compliance, it is important that you check with any financial institution with which you currently do business before you leave
regarding how you will continue that business from a location outside of the U.S. That’s because, starting with the 2016 tax year, Americans who are living abroad and have one or more foreign bank accounts containing more than $10,000 of assets, must file a Treasury form… the Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR, Form TDF 90-22.1) by April 15th. However, for the first time, taxpayers will be able to request an extra 6 months to file the form.
Moving with pets:
If you plan to take your favorite pet with you, you may have to go through a lengthy and costly quarantine process. You will likely need a health certificate for your pet from your local vet, obtain the required vaccinations, and you might have to pay for your pet to be
quarantined in your host country for up to several weeks or months.
Moving anywhere is never cheap. Your shipping expense will depend on the size/weight of your belongings, your airfare/luggage, storing a car in the U.S. or shipping it abroad, etc.
When relocating outside of the U.S, wherever you finally decide to move, it’s smart to work with a company that specializes in international relocation. This is a unique opportunity to get rid of all that unnecessary “stuff” you been meaning to throw away for years!
Other considerations – – questions to ask yourself and your significant other:
Is the location/country stable and secure enough to call “home?”
Can we deal with being far away from family and friends? How can
you stay in touch with them? (SKYPE!)
Are you willing to miss holidays and major life events….births,
marriages, graduations, recitals, etc.
Are you open to adapting to a new culture and customs?
If you need a few extra dollars, what are the employment
opportunities in the new locations?
Can you rely on the local healthcare ?
Have you done a budget to ensure that you are able to comfortably afford to live there?
We highly recommend that you head to internationalliving.com/2016/01/ the-best-places-to-retire-2016 to learn how to receive a free copy of their report “The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2016”. It is well worth the effort. The author Margaret Shepherd may have summarized the decision to move abroad, or not, when she said, “Sometimes your only method of transportation is a leap of faith.”
Are you ready to make the LEAP?