Retiring as an expatriate: the things you need to plan for

When a person’s working life is over and money is less of a problem than it used to be, it can be a good time to consider living abroad, but making a move to another country requires lots of preparation and planning.

Essential planning

The first thing to check out is whether the country one is contemplating moving to requires a retirement visa. Many countries are currently trying to attract retirees and as a result offer special programs and schemes that make it easier to retire abroad, sometimes obviating the need for a visa. It will be necessary to investigate the country’s laws regarding retirement visas. A retirement visa normally lasts for a 12-month period and can be obtained through the local immigration office.

Careful research should also be conducted into the laws governing the country in question, in order to avoid falling foul of the law and ending up in legal trouble. Comprehensive legal information can be obtained from the immigration office.

Many countries will insist that a person has enough money to support him or herself if the decision is made to retire there, and the authorities will usually demand proof of adequate retirement income. They may also ask a pre-determined sum be deposited in a local bank. It is essential that a retiree does have enough income before moving, as retirees will often not be allowed to undertake any paid work in the country they are moving to. To ensure this, it is worth checking out the prices of utilities, average food prices, and so on, to determine what the cost of living will be.

It is a cliché about expats forming communities abroad, but it is a natural human instinct to club together with those of similar experience, backgrounds, and interests. To ensure that a person will not be lonely or isolated in a new community, it is a good idea to check out whether the area is favored by other expats and if there are any social groups running. Rather than going it alone, it might be preferable to move to a retirement home or a community dedicated to senior-aged retirees. This has many advantages, not least of which is company. These communities often run like hotels, with laundry and housekeeping services, village stores, eateries, and fitness centers onsite. They can also provide medical and banking services, all in a language one can understand. This is particularly useful if a person requires the occasional, or even more frequent, helping hand from a medical professional. Such communities offer security and safety without sacrificing independence.

Moving abroad requires a great deal of thought. Often, a destination seems desirable because a vacation there proved highly successful, but taking a holiday in a country is completely different from living there. To establish that a country is definitely where a person wants to retire to, an extended vacation should be taken prior, for perhaps as long as six months. This will show one all the plusses, as well as exposing the drawbacks to living there.

Simon OatesRetiring as an expatriate: the things you need to plan for

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