On average about 350,000 Britons leave British shores every year to go in search of a new life abroad. A high percentage of those who leave are retirees looking for a golden retirement in the sun. Are you planning to be one of them in the near future? Are you thinking about whether you should look elsewhere for your retirement home?
The thing is, whilst the dream of a new life overseas is wonderful and filled with the positives and the fabulous, the reality can be as challenging as it is rewarding! Are you ready for this truth? In other words, are you cut out for a move overseas in retirement?
In this article we’re going to be posing the questions you really need to be asking yourself as you attempt to determine whether you should retire abroad or not. We will highlight the areas you need to be thinking about as you mull the big question over in your mind – i.e., is moving abroad at my time of life the right thing to do!
1) Where are you thinking of retiring to? Perhaps you’ve had a fantastic holiday in a given location and you believe it could be a great place to retire as a result of your positive experiences. But have you thought about the realities of living in a holiday destination? Do you want to be a perpetual tourist or do you want to integrate into your new nation?
Do you have the right to retire to your nation of choice? Some countries don’t have specific retirement visas and you can only live there if you are of working age. Other nations need to you prove you have enough income to sustain yourself throughout retirement. You need to look into the realities of these facts.
2) Are you in good health? What are the healthcare facilities like in your chosen nation? Can you afford health insurance or will you have to pay to access the system – will you be able to afford to? Anyone moving abroad at any age needs to think about accessing healthcare because it is so expensive – retirees have to think about this subject long and hard because there is a cut of age when insurance companies will take you on, what’s more, as we age so we can become more reliant upon healthcare providers. Affordability and quality of care in your new nation are big question marks you cannot ignore.
3) What about your family and loved ones? You will be leaving behind your support network of friends and family if you move abroad, how will you cope without them and how will they cope without you? Factor in issues about accessibility and affording to travel to and from your new nation to see family and friends, and for them to visit you.
4) Money matters much more in retirement and even more when you retire aboard. You need to know whether you’re moving to a nation where the state pension will be frozen for example. Plus you need to think about the cost of living in your new country and whether the financial landscape is stable or will be subject to high inflation for example. Never forget to factor in currency transfer costs if you earn your pension in pounds and intend to spend it abroad in another currency!
5) Think about the weather! One of the driving factors behind many Brits choosing to move abroad in retirement is the weather. However, whilst you may well never get bored of perpetual sunshine, it can have its drawbacks. You may discover that it’s cold in relative terms in the winter, and that fuel is expensive. You may find heat and humidity get harder to bear as you get older.
6) Consider whether you intend to integrate or not – those who do tend to get more out of their new life abroad! But can you learn the local language, adjust to local customs, respect the local religion and go out of your way to meet people and make friends?
It can be hard to settle in if you don’t integrate and make friends – consider how you will actively make your integration smoother and what action you can and will take to ensure you meet people and build a new support network around you.
7) Finally, there are alternatives to retiring abroad if you decide that you’re not ready or willing to take the plunge entirely. For example, you could consider wintering abroad. You can often find longer-term rental deals on holiday homes that mean you can winter in the sun of the Mediterranean region for example and spend summers back home in Britain.
Consider taking a snowbird approach to retirement to test it out and see if it is right for you.