May 17, 2011 — Maybe you’ve been wondering about the best places to retire in the world. Perhaps for you that means buying retirement property on a beautiful tropical beach in the Caribbean, or maybe a small European village. The attractions of retiring abroad are many – the low cost of living, the charm and high standard of living, interesting cultural opportunities, and warm climate. Tens of thousands of Americans decide to retire overseas, and maybe you will be one of them. Retiring abroad can be exciting, cost-effective, and totally enjoyable. But before you decide to retire south (or some other direction) of the border, you had better think about these ….
10 questions. Some came from an interesting article in the UK’s Telegraph, “10 Best Places to Retire Abroad“. At the end of the article we’ve provided their top 10 International places to retire, a most interesting list.
10 Things to Know Before You Retire Abroad
1. Can you get a visa to live there, and for how long? Each country has different rules, so find out before you get too invested. In some countries you can only stay for so many months before you must leave and reenter.
2. Along the same lines, what are the regulations that affect you owning property as a foreigner? In some countries you must go through an intermediary, in others you can only have a land lease for a certain number of years. Will you be able to resell the property, and/or will you be permitted to pass it on to your heirs?
3. Do you have a good local attorney? You are about to enter a very unfamiliar world. Hire an expert to help you.
4. If you have only been to your new country in the “season”, what is the weather like the rest of the year?
5. What is the health care situation? Are there good hospitals and qualified physicians nearby? Will your American health care insurance cover you? Can you buy local insurance? Where will you go in the event of an emergency – take a plane back to the U.S.?
6. How convenient is it to get where you are going to retire to? Must you take an airplane, and how expensive are the flights in season? What about transferring to the town where you are going to live?
7. How stable is the local government, and what is the local crime rate like? Stable governments are a matter of course for most of Europe , but what about getting caught in a situation like urban Greece where government protests have gotten ugly? In Central and South America these concerns might be greater, but will always be local. For example, even though Mexican drug wars are a staple for headlines, there are many areas of the country that are still safe and stable.
8. Who and what are you going to miss the most? Will your children and grandchildren come to visit often, or will you have to go to them? The more desirable the location, the more visitors you will get. But if your children have no money, that’s another problem. Local stores might not have the products you are used to getting.
9. Do you want to live among the locals, or do you imagine yourself in the expatriate community? If the former, you had better learn the language (maybe you are already fluent). Are the locals receptive to outsiders? If you are going to live in an expat community, are you prepared to live in a fairly small world?
10. What about currency risks? If the dollar goes up or down, what will be the effect on your standard of living?
The answers to many of these questions vary in difficulty. Searching on the Internet will provide many answers, particularly at the various government websites. InternationalLiving.com has many country-specific reports you can purchase. To find the answers you must spend some time on the ground, which is always the smart thing to do. The worst thing you can do – you guessed it – buying property while you are enjoying a wonderful vacation.
The Telegraph’s Top 10 Places to Retire Abroad
The first thing to note about this list from an English newspaper is that it is from the European perspective. Americans looking for the best international places to retire would undoubtedly have a different list, much more heavily weighted to the America’s.
- America. The Telegraph thinks that Florida, with its depressed real estate values, is a great place to retire. We agree.
- Barbardos. A lot of Brits retire to this former colony and member of the Commonwealth. Home sales are reported to be up and prices down, with condominiums being very attractive.
- Cyprus. Aside from the warm weather, this island in the Mediterranean can be very attractive as a tax residence. If you live here just more than half the year you can become a citizen and pay modest income taxes.
- France. The thing about France is there are so many great places to retire. Most people tend to retire to the coasts, particularly along the Cote D’Azur, but almost as many choose small towns in regions like Provence, Dordogne, or the Languedoc. Prices are off their 2007 peak in most regions, although apartment prices in Paris are soaring.
- Italy. Prices are still down in Italy as well. The Telegraph likes Umbria, Tuscany, and places near Lucca. We agree, they make some wonderful choices. Rome would make a wonderful urban retirement spot.
- Mauritius. We had to look this one up to see where it is (east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, well east of Southern Africa). The Telegraph cites its picture postcard beaches, and an expat-friendly tax status for retirees who buy certain type of properties. Go to www.cluttons.com for more.
- South Africa. The Brits tend to retire around Cape Town, which has a nice climate and beaches too. Prices are lower than in Europe.
- Spain. With its warm climate and huge coastline, Spain has long been the popular spot for Europeans to retire and vacation. The southeast portion around Murcia, which has several golf courses, is particularly attractive for retirees.
- Switzerland. According to the Telegraph, don’t think about living here unless you are rich. But if you are so lucky, you will probably get richer here. Taxes can be favorable. And did we mention how beautiful this country is?
- Turkey. Part in Europe and mostly in Asia, Turkey offers lower prices and many interesting places to live. The warm beaches in the south tend be resort towns that are more European than Asian. Bodrum and Kusadasi are two such destinations.
Are you thinking about retiring overseas? Share your thoughts about the advantages, drawbacks, and best places to retire internationally in the Comments section below.
For further reference:
What you need to know about retiring in Mexico
11 Things You Need to Know Before You Retire Overseas (by Kathleen Peddicord)
Top 10 International Places to Retire