Are you looking forward to retiring abroad, but aren’t sure where to start? This is a big decision, and you want to be properly prepared so that any obstacles that come your way can be handled with grace. Here’s a checklist that should help you get through it:
- Complete a trial run
Are you sure you’re ready for the plunge? What better way to find out than to take a practice run at it? Decide which country you’d like to relocate in and spend an extended period of time there. Get a feel for the lifestyle and learn what to expect. You might find that another area of the country suits you better than you’d first imagined. You might even find you prefer a completely different country altogether! You don’t know anything for sure until you try it out.
- Consider what’s important to you
This is an extension of number one. When you’re choosing your new home for this exciting part of your life, take a few factors into consideration. What do you like most about the country you want to relocate to? Is it the weather? The culture? The food? Maybe you have achieved a strong sense of community among the locals or among the expat population. Make sure your reasons are clear for choosing the place you’re going to move to. That will make it easier to get through the harder transition steps.
- Figure out how to gain residency
Residency rules vary from country to country, and that can be overwhelming to someone who isn’t familiar with the steps. Some countries’ residency requirements are simple. For example, in Belize, you can become a resident under the Qualified Retiree Program by being 45 or older and proving that you have $2,000 USD per month in income. In Thailand, though, you have to have a non-immigration visa for at least three years before applying for citizenship. Determine what will be necessary in your country of choice ahead of time, to save yourself a headache later.
- Check on the healthcare situation
Since Medicare won’t cover you while you’re out of the country, you’ll have to come up with an alternate plan. You can purchase health insurance relatively cheaply in a lot of countries, so that’s probably the best option, but you want to make sure you’re near a good location for decent healthcare. In some countries, you might have to be located within, or at least close to, a big city. Make sure you know your options and where a good facility is.
- Gather important documentation
You’ll likely be required to have all sorts of documentation at the ready. It’s best to be prepared for this up front. Make sure you’re keeping track of things like:
- Make sure banking needs are met
Find out how the exchange rate will work for you. Get ahead by making plans for your living arrangements so that they meet your financial plan, and budget everything out so that you know it will work without the exchange rate messing things up. You’ll want to set up an account with a new bank for the sake of convenience. Finally, you might have to continue filing a tax return in the United States and pay taxes over there as well. This will depend on your country of choice, so that’s something you’ll want to learn about up-front.
As you work your way through this checklist, other things are certainly likely to come to your attention. Add to it as you see fit, and breathe easier with the peace of mind that you’re ready for this process. You can get started early on if you’ve already made your decision. The more time you have to plan for your retirement abroad, the better!
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