There are good sides and bad sides about this. A couple of guys at work are retiring in Panama, and both have wives from there. One is building a house in the foothills (not sure where exactly) for $80,000 that would cost about four times as much here. There was a big article on Forbes or Fortune or Money mag online that talked about the top cheap places to retire overseas. Remember that you still get your pension checks overseas, but Medicare doesn't apply, so most countries you buy medical insurance (Panama's is very good and affordable, and medical care is first rate). Some places like Guadalajara Mexico have entire U.S. enclaves with great shopping, recreational facilities, and medicla care right there in the huge compounds. However, you don't necessarily want to live in a U.S. only compound, never see locals, and basically live like you were in the U.S. You also have to financially qualify for residency in most countries, and you should qualify first, and then buy or build, or even better rent for a year or so until you find exactly the location you want. Some places in the Caribbean also have huge import taxes on things like furniture, and household goods, so buying locally is a great idea, plus it's also the reason many tourist locations come with furniture included. You might not have the huge gourmet food selection they have in big cities here, and it might not have the cosmopolitan plays and such if you're a fan of that.
This one also has links to other ratings systems, and articles from retirement living magazines.
At one time (don't know if this is still true or not) American citizens living overseas had to come back to the U.S. for a few days every few years to keep citizenship, but I'm not sure if I understood that correctly or not.
If you google specific countries, and retirement, you should end up with some good articles by residents. I'm always skeptical of the real estate agent articles though, because they definitely have an agenda. But you can probably locate some resident blogs or postings also.
ANother factor is cost of living. A lot of people from Great Britain were moving to Europe, and buying houses because the exchange rate was great. Then everything changed, and many people had to go back home because they couldn't get the afforability for their pension amounts, and couldn't afford to stay. There was an article with updates about some of the people on House Hunters International that were moving to France or Spain, and almost all had to move back to Great Britain when the down turn happened. I understand this was fairly widespread in the expat community, and many restaurants that catered to the expat community closed also.
Going to somewhere that you can get a great, affordable place to live, with a good quality of living, then it's something to consider.
I would love to retire in Central or South America. However, I've about decided that it's just not feasible for me, primarily due to family obligations.
I have done a bit of research. Costa Rica has gotten quite expensive, so I immediately crossed it off my list. Uruguay is also expensive and the last thing I read is that they've changed their tax structure, making things even more difficult.
I love, love, love, Panama. It has gotten more expensive in recent years, but is still reasonable, I think. I found the people to be friendly and the country is beautiful, with a surprisingly wide range of climate choices depending on area and elevation. You can chose to live in communities that have lots of American expats or "go native," and you can find everything from big city to isolated mountain cabin.
However, there is no substitute for actually spending time in various places to really get a feel for things. I would plan an extended stay (several months at least) to any place you are considering as a retirement destination.
I moved from frigid portions of the the USA to the onetime-CSA in 1982. Consider the warm South in lower-cost areas. The NC Triangle is not one of those.
I would not be in the least surprised the way the rapacious Federal Leviathan is going, that foreign remittances of SS checks or even simply Americans' drawing on US-based accounts, via the mechanism of foreign exchange controls such as adopted by other countries in dire fiscal straits, might complicate leaving the US for retirement.
If I knew what I were doing, why would I take lessons?
"Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Einstein
We will be in either France (Brittany) or Belgium when we retire. The Brittany region has fantastic value for money on property and the healthcare and social systems of both countries are quite good. I like the idea of seasons even when I retire, perhaps just not quite so cold in the winter as where we are now.
I am from Belgium originally and Mr. Horseymum has his citizenship through me so that makes things very easy, plus I have lots of family there, I have always preferred the pace of life in continental Europe.
We'll probably retire to my family house in the south of France, we're both citizens, and I love the area and the climate. Healthcare is better than in the US. Our closest neighbor is German, the one above id local but his wife is from New Zealand, the whole viallge is an interesting mix of "regular" locals, artists, farmers, retirees...fun place.
Sophie I know about the rain in Brittany...... I am from Belgium remember! The first time I took Mr Horseymum home to Brussels he told me after three days that the climate seemed like club med for slugs....We get the grey rainy thing. My uncle was born and raised in Lyon and tells me that we should go there, every grey rainy winter he always asks me why he moved to Belgium 50 years ago! I have to say I love the south of France and would happily go there if I thought I could afford anything
I dont intend to start a bitch-fight or a train-wreck, but how come most of you posters talk about a good health-system as being important? Most of the countries that you reference are socialist - and isnt socialised medicine supposed to be the root of all evil ? After all, socialised medicine is paid from taxes generated in that country that you have not (maybe) contributed to.
You would also need to check that your retirement country actually allows a non-citizen/permanent resident to retire there and access those benefits that are funded by the taxpayer. I know that in New Zealand (where I live/am a citizen of), you would not be eligible for most of our medical care/superannuation. Heck, some of our own citizens, if they cant prove "ordinary residence" for at least 5 years between the ages of 55-60, lose access to superannuation. Further, some years ago, we removed the automatic right to citizenship just for being born here - you needed to have at least one parent who was a NZ citizen/permanent resident to get it. Couples were flying in to live here for a few months to have their babies automatically NZers. Yes, it was a rort to access our social welfare (including medical care) system.
Heck, NZers are crying out for our no-fault accident compensation system to not apply to tourists! That they must have suitable accident insurance when they come here. Yes, you have an accident here, you get your medical bills paid for ... oh, that is right, within NZ only! (Yes, we have had tourists attempt to claim for medical costs from overseas (sometimes by their Insurance Companies) - the Act under which ACC is run specifically excludes this.)
From doing some reading about retiring in Panama, apparently Panama City is getting pricey, but other cities are still very affordable. Just be careful about the blogs and articles about individual communities, because I understand many of the single community ones are written by part of the real estate companies.
And they say that some expat retirees in Mexico are lobbying to get Medicare coverage extend to there, but that's not ever going to happen in my view.
And medical tourism is another factor also. The medical care in many countries is quite good, and U.S. companies are paying people to go overseas for orthopedic and other surgical procedures now. I understand India, Thailand and others are becoming possibilities for medical procedures. Just like in the movie "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" where medical care and retirement are outsourced.
I always thought we would retire to the south of France or Italy.
It has been what has kept me trudging through the snow year after year.
However, a few years ago we bought a house on the ocean in Nova Scotia, in the town my husband's mother came from.
The scenery is beautiful (if you like bleak ocean vistas and rocks), the people are kind and friendly and house prices are incredibly low.
And since it is Canada, we still have health care.
A lot of Americans (and Germans) have bought property there as well.
Our compromise is that for a least a month a year we will go somewhere warm, or at least warmer, so Tuscany will be still be possible.
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would totally move to Argentina if I could. Very friendly culture, good food, lots to do. Buenos Aires is not that cheap, but other areas are more affordable.
Totally looter government. There are so many graces in Argentina such as the national art museum, which is probably why the populace doesn't decide that it's better to bolt for Uruguay or Paraguay. In the latter case, better the devil you know who doesn't pretend to screw you for your own good.
If I knew what I were doing, why would I take lessons?
"Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Einstein
I always wonder why people up and off to some remote part when they retire.
It sounds romantic and exciting....
I'm too locked into my lifestyle, my friends, and my kids and future grand-children to want to break away and make friends all over again. Old friends are the best friends, they say.
But with BC's high housing prices we could do quite well by doing what Fred is doing (can we be neighbours???), and promising ourselves a winter in Italy near my other daughter.
But if ever I was the one to be single, it would be hard away from my
stamping grounds alone.
That period in our lives on "fixed income" is coming up fast.
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I know a lot of people who go to Mexico and Costa Rica. They have a low cost of living and national health care. There are a huge contingent of ex-patriots there.
Don't know about Costa Rica, but I have friends who retired to Mexico 9 years ago & just moved back to US because Medicare will not cover ex-pats.
WTF is up with that? You are still a US citizen and paid IN for so many years- seems like a gyp to me.
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The reason Medicare (and a lot of other U.S. private insurers) don't cover you overseas is because the doctors and hospitals would have to accept payment from the insurer, and that would mean that the Medicare or whoever would have to make arrangements and set up billing and payments with hospitals and doctors all over the world. The logistical costs alone to extend coverage would be a nightmare to implement. It is one of the downsides to living overseas, but you can get insurance that does work in other countries, or when traveling. Even in the U.S. with Medicare you either need Medigap insurance, or with regular insurance Medicare is the primary payer, and then your own insurance picks up the slack. The need for other coverage is why the Part D Prescription plans exist.
I don't think government or private insurance in other countries cover you when you go outside that country either. If you go to another country to save money in retirement, then there will be a lot of factors to consider, and health insurance coverage is one of them. There are a lot of factors to consider from residency requirements, medical care, crime rate, housing and living costs, cost of household goods whether imported or made in the country, utility infrastructure (some places, especially outside the city have frequent power outages according to what I've read) might not be reliable depending on location, communications services might not be what you need for personal or business reasons, and remember that in another country you have to go by their laws and rules, and that might not be a good fit for everyone.