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The Pros, Cons, and Considerations of an International Retirement

Category: International Retirement

Updated January, 2020 — (originally published April 23, 2013) — Note: This is Part 7 of our “Retirement 101” series. 

You have probably seen articles on the Internet that promise an international retirement as your ticket to paradise. A place that includes maids and gardeners at your beck and call, cheap but glorious real estate, doctor house calls for $10, perfect warm weather – all of which is available on a Social Security income. While that vision might be possible, we read many reports of ex-patriots who regret their move abroad. In fact, retiring to a different country for reasons of economics might be precisely the wrong reason to do so.

This article will attempt to present a balanced view of the pros and cons of an international retirement. We list at the beginning some good reasons for choosing an expat retirement, as well as some not to retire abroad. Then we list many personal pros and cons cited by our Members. Finally, in addition to the countries in our “Best International Places to Retire” article, we’ve included a list of expat retirement countries suggested by our Members.

Note that for every person who has had a bad experience with a particular country or issue, there is usually someone else with an opposite point of view. Which leads us to our standard advice – before you make any decision about where you live in retirement – visit the location for an extended stay and see for yourself!

Reasons for an expatriate retirement:

You love living in a very different environment and experiencing different cultures.

You speak a foreign language or are willing to learn one

You have experience living in a foreign country, not just vacationing there

You have a need to stretch your dollars

You have a high tolerance for managing obstacles.

Reasons against an expatriate retirement:

You need to be close to friends and family

You have unusual medical needs that require specialists or ready access

You are not interested in foreign languages or cultures

Saving money is the main reason you want live abroad

Part 2: Pros and Cons (reader comments)

In this Pros and Cons section we have chosen a representative comment from a member. Know that for every positive there is almost always someone else who disagrees!

Pros

Live on a Social Security income. From Priscilla: “(Ecuador is great) for single women who can’t survive on paltry Soc. Sec. payments
Improved lifestyle. Thanks mostly to a strong dollar and choosing an interesting place to live, many retirees experience a richer and more interesting lifestyle abroad than they could have in the U.S., Canada, or Europe.
Inexpensive and good healthcare. JaneH: “Europe generally has good health care provided you are granted access to it”. Dave: ” I have several good doctors, had a double cataract/lens replacement operation done a couple years ago for less than 1/4th the cost in the USA, see a specialist when I want to for about $9.00. That’s not my co-pay, that’s the whole pay at his office in our local hospital. I also have something not many Americans back in the USA have .. my doctor’s cell phone number in my phone, along with his receptionist’s.”
Inexpensive domestic help. The advantages of having inexpensive staff to help with domestic chores is often touted as an advantage of an international retirement.
Interesting experiences. Many members comment about the happy and interesting exchanges they have with their new neighbors.
Warm weather. Mexico, Central America, South America, and much of Asia has better and warmer weather than the northeast or midwest U.S.

Cons
Corruption and crime. Paul: “Danger is directly proportional to poverty and we Yanks have no idea as to the degree of poverty that exists in these countries”.

Stability:  Unfortunately not every country has the political stability available in the U.S. Some countries might have a solid government, then a new election puts a leader in place who completely changes the environment. If things go south, you don’t want to be owning property there.

Service and bureaucratic nightmares. Particularly in South and Central America, we have heard many tales of waiting for a year to have a phone line installed, or having to pay off the building inspector to get work done.
Immigration problems. Ron: “Anyone thinking of retiring in New Zealand should start by checking the strict immigration rules related to age.” Holly: “I love that Ireland was first on the list but, as with most countries – you cannot just pack a suitcase, get on a plane and show up at Dublin Airport and tell them you’re here to retire! We lived in Scotland during our early married years and would LOVE to go back there but the UK has strict rules about emigration and the fact that you have to have a certain amount of money deposited in UK banks”.
Being the target. Several said in comments that they felt North Americans were viewed as targets and not friends in various countries. On the other hand, others said that expats who make efforts to learn the language and interact with locals tend to be accepted.
Far from family and friends. Depending on where you move, you might not get many visitors from home – and your return trips will be expensive and time consuming.
Inexpensive and plentiful healthcare. Doug: ” spent 2 years in Mexico near Lake Chapala…..nice spot, local folks are friendly….but the problem, is medical care….sure, the Doctors are excellent, but they have little or no experience with older people…”.

Moving for economic reasons. Spending your retirement in a new country is a huge lifestyle change. Almost everything is different – from the food, language, customs, climate, and more. So if only moved because retirement is cheaper there, you might soon find out that that the negatives of all these other factors greatly outweigh the benefit of saving a lot of money.

What will the healthcare system be like? Will you have ready access to it? How much will it cost, and what is the quality. Will doctors be familiar with your complaints?

Can you be part of the community, or will you stick out? Do you want to live in an expat colony, or would you rather have a home in a normal neighborhood? Is the country welcoming to foreigners? Do you want to make an effort to assimilate, or are you looking for a little America abroad?

Various. What is the situation for that particular country for security, crime, immigration laws, cost of living, infrastructure and amenities?

Do you have family and friends that you will miss? Glenn: “Unless you have no sibling/children/grandchildren you will want to to visit family and the commute from half-way around the world costs time and $$$.”.

Taxes and fees. Some countries impose heavy taxes that mostly affect foreigners; for example a hefty tax on the sale of your home.

Overpromises. JimyP: “One needs to be aware that there are many companies selling the wonders of Latin America and they are doing so for profit and without regard to your well-being whatsoever.”

Part 3: Places and countries that members thought should be included:
Philippines. There were multiple positive mentions of this country citing its weather, cost of living, and friendly people. There were also some negative comments. Representative comment from Bonjie: “Low cost of living, nice culture and awesome traditions year-round, great places all over, good cuisine, friendly and hospitable people, English-speaking, fun activities 24/7”

Portugal.

Madeira and the Azures.

Thailand. Warm weather, great beaches, friendly people.

Ghana and West Africa. Anthony: “Ghana West Africa the best place on earth God created almost at the Centre of the world with Gold almost everywhere, diamonds, bauxite, manganese, 12 hours of Sun, chocolate galore, best democracy in Africa, friendly industrious people, great talents in many area, peace loving people.”

Greece. George: “I think Greece the best place by far”.

Sri Lanka (Negumbo). JohnH: “Has a visa program for pensioners. Affordable , modern health care is available. With my modest teacher pension and social security we would be comfortable and able to afford just about anything we would need in either place.”

India (Pondicherry)

Vanuatu (cluster of 80 South Pacific Islands). Mitch: “consider Vanuatu, a cluster of 80 South Pacific islands, great climate, friendly people, little or no crime, no income tax, no CGT, no inheritance tax, no property taxes. Low cost of living and housing “.

Chile. Best place to live in South America. Has a strong economy, stable government.

Places to avoid
Belize and the Honduras were mentioned by several people as places to avoid. Likewise some of the countries on our top 10 list had their detractors (and supporters). Those included Mexico (too dangerous), Costa Rica (no bargain), and Croatia (corruption and crime). We recommend you read the actual Comments to our “Top 10 International Places to Retire” to get more perspective.

Bottom Line
The next time you read an article or get an email about some incredible international place to retire – stop. Think about the factors discussed here. A country might be retirement paradise – but there are 2 sides to every story. Make sure you know both.

Comments? This is the fun part for us, when you share your experiences and opinions. Please let the rest of us know what you think about these pros and cons, as well as the commentary and suggestions on other international places to retire.

For further reading:
Topretirements Country Guides to Retirement Abroad

10 Best International Places to Retire

All Modules in the Retirement 101 Series

Posted by Admin on April 23rd, 2013

34 Comments »

  1. I have been living in Chiang Mai, Thailand for six months now. Warm weather, very inexpensive, great food, friendly smiling people, and I am preparing to to leave. There is so much good about this place that it has been difficult for me to finally admit that this is not the place I want to spend the rest of my life. I do not fit in. I will never ever learn to speak Thai. As good as everything else is I do not want to feel isolated from everyone else around me, so I have to move on.

    Others have lived here for decades and still do not speak Thai. They are more adaptive than I am. Things like this you will not know until you give it a try.

    Best of luck to all of us trying the expat life. I am not sure where I am going from here but I am certain of I do not want to return to my home country.

    by dpcjsr — April 24, 2013

  2. I have lived overseas. If you are not flexible, you won’t like living overseas. There are no McDonald’s, Taco Bells and Pizza joints all over the place. If you want to eat out, get acquainted first with restaurant. In Tahiti, Chinese restaurants can fill you up handily, while tourists areas will pick your pocket. Your appetite might go nuts with the outdoors, and you’ll be hungry all the time. Just like any where, if you are not comfortable with where you are, leave. Don’t push it. I loved Tangier, Morocco, because I had access to Gibraltar. Personally I do not care for anything south of the border. When I was with State Department, send me anywhere but south of the border, and that was years ago. Nothing has changed my mind since then other than seeing that things have gotten worse in some places. If you can’t handle humidity, do a search to check average humidity ranges. If higher than what you can handle, don’t go there bag and baggage. If you still insist on going somewhere, do your homework with both eyes open.

    by Edward — April 29, 2013

  3. Long term travel may be the better option – keeping somewhere to come home to in the states in case you don’t enjoy living overseas.

    by Oakmonte Village — April 30, 2013

  4. There is an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal about an American couple who decided to retire in Israel. You can get a very informative feel for what that is like from the article http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203400604578073184294449120.html

    by Topretirements editor — May 20, 2013

  5. RE: moving aboard. I have lived and worked in several countries and have now reached the conclusion that I would not be happy living abroad on a permanent basis. There are many adjustments and cultural aspects to consider when making such a move and one never truly fits into a foreign culture, from my experience. As Americans, we are always thought of as fat cats by the locals and often targets of opportunities for them. I agree with Oakmonte Village that long term travel and a home in an affordable area of the USA is a much better option.

    by Marilyn — June 7, 2013

  6. Living abroad is not for everyone. My wife and I have advanced educations and had excellent jobs for the USA while living on the economy in Germany. We loved most everything about our life there .. but … even though I had studied German for four years and could get by 90% of the time with locals (white collar) thinking I was German (so I could practice my German) … still … trying to converse about issues with someone on technical items (computers, utilities), mechanical (car or HVAC) was just about impossible, as their ‘blue collar’ people didn’t know much English and I couldn’t explain our problems well enough in German. Small things like this, as much as we would never trade back our time overseas, made us crave a less frustrating lifestyle.

    by High Yield Consultant — June 8, 2013

  7. This NY Times article is an excellent primer on what you need to consider about health care insurance when retiring abroad. This insurance is usually expensive and you will probably be rated for it individually. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/22/your-money/the-dream-of-retiring-abroad-with-good-health-care.html

    by Admin — February 23, 2014

  8. Do you have any articles or information on Latin American countries where US citizens/military retirees gravitate towards. I am interested in Central and South America.
    Thank you

    (this question came in from Alvin – can anyone help?)

    by Admin — December 8, 2016

  9. The website http://www.bestplacesintheworldtoretire.com has a neat tool at the top under the “location advisor” tab whereby you plug in your preferences and it spits our areas in countries that match your criteria. For my wife and I it spit out Placencia/Ambergris Key in Belize and the Algarve southern coastal area in Portugal partly due to our not wanting to learn a new language.

    by dan — December 9, 2016

  10. I have been retired in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for 5 years.
    These have been very good years with many friends and little crime.
    Good healthcare, cultural actives exceeding anywhere else I have lived. NYC, Chicago, Denver, Boulder, Aspen, and the Lost Angels area in So. CA. As an artist in Mexico, I have had shows and sold work here.

    Do not believe everything you hear or read. The news has it all wrong. Bad stuff happens anywhere and there is more crime and shooting deaths happening in the USA then almost any where else in this world.

    I joke with the police here often and they laugh like crazy. I don’t remember ever having a good time with a man in blue back in the states. Guns pointed at me and other negative stories of police harassment back in the good old USA. If you protest against the government like me, you may get hit with a club or have a gun put to your head. I did & I am not a felon. I used to be a teacher and I have raised three good kids. All have degrees & jobs.

    Enjoy the states if you are there.. It is beautiful with many great people. Pax always enjoy.

    Know when to hold and learn to fold. It has been pretty much good for me here. Better than back in the USA… especially Ventura, CA. the worse city in the world on my list! Just relax a little , be smart, & enjoy your travels…

    by michael pedziwiatr — June 18, 2017

  11. Hi Michael:

    I have a friend who just moved to San Miguel de Allende and she absolutely loves it. She bought a house but keeps a small studio apartment here in Washington, DC. I hope to visit her this summer. I know that to get residency status in Mexico, one must prove they at least make $2,000 per month so that there is no dependence on the state. I was also surprised to learn that Mexico has universal healthcare, a two tiered system, at a reasonable price. Many of their doctors were trained right here in the USA and then went back to Mexico to open top notch clinics. I also learned the climate is like San Diego–perfect all the time. I am eager to see this utopia! Please share more information on restaurants and cost of living.

    by Jennifer — June 19, 2017

  12. Does anyone know where you can move internationally and get residency status on less than $1500 monthly ??

    by mary11 — June 20, 2017

  13. Jennifer…MANY ex-pats in San Miguel de Allende……and a few years ago this city was voted the best city in the world for lifestyle.

    As far as medical….many Americans still comeback to the US for their medical. Though they do have some US trained doctors in Mexico, policies and restrictions for doctors and medical procedures are not the same as in the US. To tell you the truth, however….I am not happy with medical care HERE in the US…..but still considered more chancy to have medical procedures performed in Mexico.

    by Roberta Bengtson — June 20, 2017

  14. Roberta,’
    I would respectfully disagree about having medical procedures here in the USA over Mexico. There are good and bad doctors in all nations. I am a former RN and lived in Cairo, Egypt for six years or so. I have heard from quite a few Ex-pats who give the dentists and doctors in San Miguel rave reviews and the prices are MUCH less than here. The USA is no longer #1 in the World as far as healthcare and Medical Tourism is often paid for by our Insurance companies in the US. In Mexico there are two tiers of healthcare, of course we would want the best of those. I would also check the doctors ratings there just as I would here. You, as the consumer, should drive your healthcare no matter where you live–doctors are not Gods only trained professionals with a skill set. Check consumer ratings and prices. Many, many Americans go over the border into Mexico for procedures and healthcare. They have had good results and I have met them. I live in Washington, DC and lots of my neighbors who went to Mexico for retirement had been with the State Dept. since they have also lived abroad, I do listen to them.

    by Jennifer — June 21, 2017

  15. Hi – how far is any watet from San Miguel? Lakes, ocean etc. Also, how’s the humidity and bugs?

    by Michael — June 22, 2017

  16. I hear the humidity is very low and that since San Miguel is in the mountains that the temperatures are fairly pleasant–much like San Diego. It is 400 miles to the nearest beach.

    by Jennifer — June 23, 2017

  17. I’m looking forward to hearing your first hand impressions of the area if you are able to visit this summer, Jennifer. It sounds like a really great place.

    by Tessa — June 24, 2017

  18. Tessa, I am eager to see it first hand and will report back when I do. It does sound lovely.
    Jennifer

    by Jennifer — June 24, 2017

  19. Reading all these posts about San Miguel has me interested. Have traveled a lot in Mexico and loved it but of course visiting a place and living there can be very different. The question I have is about healthcare: Do you buy medical insurance in Mexico since Medicare isn’t accepted there? If so, can anyone advise on how to get a cost estimate? Thanks!

    by Karen — June 27, 2017

  20. Hello Jennifer……thanks you for your response. I am well aware that physicians are not Gods..and one should research thoroughly whenever selecting a professional for medical or dental reasons.

    Medical may be better in areas like San Miguel…as there are so many ex-pats there……however I wonder if the better physicians are available to most people. In Costa Rica,for example, there are many good physicians…but they are difficult to get appointments with.

    I, also, have known several people to go to Mexico for medical services…none have had good results. I can only share
    what I have experienced and information I have gathered.

    I do know that several people I know in Mexico have gone to INDIA for hip replacements.

    Unfortunately, very true that the US no longer leads in medicine, and I am often very disappointed and frustrated by the medical services that I get here in the US. It seems like it is often too much to ask to get care that is acceptable…yet I am aware of no other country with possibly the exception on some of the European nations where excellent care may be readily available.

    I, too, have lived abroad and I have been in the travel industry for the past thirty years. While it is true that many counties have improved as far as medical facilities etc…and some are trying to develop medical tourism…it very much depends on what your specific needs are. Many diagnostic aids etc…readily available in the US may still be lacking in many foreign countries.

    Still very reluctant to have medical procedures in Mexico…as ex-pats I know living there still come back tot he US for medical.

    It is a problem…..as medical facilities are still very much a concern of mine in searching for a retirement location right here in the US.

    by Roberta Bengtson — August 25, 2017

  21. Good to hear from you Roberta. Since I was trained as an registered nurse and worked in surgery, internal medicine and oncology, I attempt use my knowledge as to what to look for and know the questions to ask. I have dealt with top notch docs from all over the world–many more compassionate than here in the USA and they earn much less income in their home countries. Canada has very good health care and I have heard good results from a business woman who lives in Arizona who could not afford health insurance. She went to Mexico, near Guadalajara and got a specialist to do a hysterectomy in a private clinic that serves upper class Mexican citizens, yet was more affordable than anything she could get here. In that clinic, the doctor stayed with her in her room for the first two nights post-op, she was attended to by well trained registered nurses, she was served fruit juice, freshly squeezed each day, from a variety of fruit, had wonderful meals and had a fantastic outcome.

    Many people just accept status quo, but one must be vigilant. I have heard of no bad outcomes from my friends in Mexico (does not mean it does not happen). My friend in San Miguel chose to renew her tourist visa last year–before her residency became permanent–she did have cataract surgery here in Washington DC–simply because she was here in Washington DC and knew the doctor was excellent.

    I myself do not trust traditional medicine–I have seen too many bad outcomes right here in the USA. I think we have to eat well, cut out the junk and take control of our bodies. Exercise, walk, do yoga, swim…anything to avoid going to a traditional physicians office and then being subjected to big pharma and drugs with horrible side effects.

    My husband was a surgeon an MD/P.H.d and was also a professor. He was shocked at the influences of the drug companies and hated battling the insurance companies. He saw that the right food was a good start towards good health and that alternative medicine was nothing to be afraid of. In Europe most of this is common knowledge. Since I have lived in Egypt and Europe as well as here in the USA. I have learned that we are brainwashed here and that we need to be open to other options for maximum health. I am ashamed that for a long time I had a superior attitude as a nurse that our way in the USA was the only way—it is not.

    by Jennifer — August 26, 2017

  22. Roberta,
    I, too, lived and worked overseas for an Aid org. Since aid isn’t needed in “First World” countries, I was in Central America, and later in South Africa. I had surgeries in both a knee and a hysterectomy. Both were successful. Minor complications with the knee and none with the hysterectomy.

    To Jennifer, In South Africa I found the medicine and recommendations more advanced than the USA. After taking a course of antibiotics I was told to take a course of probiotics to replace the gut bacteria that I had just killed with the antibiotics. I have yet to get this advice along with a non-Rx script of what to buy. Even now and I use a recognized university health system, no such recommendations.

    by shumidog — August 27, 2017

  23. Shumidog,

    As a surgical coordinator nurse with a large practice in Washington, DC, we did tell people to take probiotics after bowel resections and other surgical procedures if they were on any antibiotics. My surgeons had been trained in the USA, but three of the five had lived abroad and two had been in the armed services and had travelled with their careers internationally. You are probably right, and I am not surprised that more health care professionals do not recommend probiotics. The gut reflects the general health of the body and so it is really best to get it rebalanced ASAP. Yogurt, by the way is NOT the recommends method as it does not have nearly enough cultures to replace a gut that has been wiped clean. You can certainly eat yogurt, and it may help, but you need over the counter oral probiotics to do the job and replace the good bacteria needed for digestion and proper, normal elimination.

    by Jennifer — August 27, 2017

  24. We find Colombia medical and dental care superior and much less expensive than here. So much so it is cheaper to fly there, pay for hotel for a week and meals, the services and meds than to have it done here. Here lasik with super companyinsurance discount $1800 (versus regular $3800) is $300 in ultramodern facility for the same 20 sec. computer process. American meds run 1/6 – 1/10 the cost as CVS. Doctors will come to your home or hotel not running a cattle like operation with no personal attention of more than 6 minutes even with your “primary care” doctor you may not even see then only treating you for what they are seeing this week not diagnosing you and letting you take the time and pay for the visits and expensive tests and meds which may not be appropriate and require you to pay for follow-up visits tests and meds. until they get it right. My Effient went to $425 a month with good insurance versus $60 over the counter there in Bogota.

    Here my doctor went from 3600 patients and frustration not having time to give personal attention really helping people to now a boutique plan I pay $1500 a year for and he only has 650 patients and he knows of us each individually and no waiting auditorium or lines – immediate access for a minimum 30 minutes and not pill pushing but a personally tailored health pan. I even have his cell number for 24/7 access. It is a bargain rather than the shoddy care and needless expenses of conventional dollar chasing doctors.

    by RIchard Plocica — July 26, 2019

  25. Richard, Medical Tourism has been a very popular way to go for some time. Anyone who cares to can view the WHO (World Health Organizations) list and see that the USA is not the best in the world in healthcare as we have been led to believe. Being a former nurse this was a hard realization for me. I lived abroad as well and have seen it in action and would gladly travel in a non emergency situation to have health care elsewhere and my insurance would also pay for it. Many carriers do–check your health insurance policies. Why? Because it saves them money. I met two Americans on a flight home from Germany who had been to Romania for dental care and they paid very little for two crowns and dental cleanings, one person needed a root canal. All was done with NO anesthesia and the outcome was great and they were raving about how good their dental care was. For the cost of the trip and the dentist, they came out ahead of what they would be charged here in the USA.

    As of 2019, we here in the USA rank 37 in the world and Canada ranks 30! Columbia ranks 22. France ranks #1. Below is the link for reference for 2019.

    thepatientfactor.com/canadian-health-care-information/world-health-organizations-ranking-of-the-worlds-health-systems/

    by Jennifer — July 27, 2019

  26. Excellent article, and lots of good advice in the previous comments.

    There are many good reasons to retire outside the US, with excellent healthcare at a fraction of the price being one of the biggest.

    But there are many, many lifestyle adjustments and cultural differences to take into consideration. Almost everything about your day-to-day life will be different – from the stores you shop in, the entertainment options (TV, movies, activities…), the way renting or buying property works, etc. Saving money is great, but ultimately you want to live someplace where you’ll be happy and you can do the things you want to do when you’re retired.

    There are a lot of expat networks online now that provide a wealth of information about what it’s like to live in a place, as well as providing a social network that you can tap into once you get there.

    Learn everything you can about a country’s history, political and economic situation, laws, customs, etc. before you move. Try living in a place for a few months before you fully commit to moving.

    Dave Hughes
    Author of “The Quest for Retirement Utopia: How to Find the Retirement Spot That’s Right for You”

    by Dave Hughes — January 29, 2020

  27. I lived in Russia for 4 1/2 years for work and knew then that if I could be happy living there, I could happily retire in France, a place that’s a lot easier to live than Moscow. So when the time is right, I will move. The most important thing I learned when living in a foreign country is to not have any expectations. Without expectations, then everything is new and nothing disappoints. I have taken several month-long scouting trips to France over the past 2 years and found my happy place, only to learn that my dog has a heart condition and that putting her on a plane would be hazardous to her health. I hope she stays with me a good long time, but when she finally goes to the Rainbow Bridge, then I will retire to France. Until then, I have plenty of time to improve my French. And yes, I agree with Dave Hughes – before moving, learn everything you can about a country’s history, its political and economic situation, its laws and customs before moving. It prevents surprises and helps assimilation.

    by JoannC — January 30, 2020

  28. JoannC-

    As well, I love France. Don’t know that I would want to live there permanently but it is a beautiful and charming place and their health care is ranked number one in the world. Where in France, May I ask, are you intending to move? I would love to be able to, at some point, spend a couple of months living there to see if I would like to consider such a move. Best wishes and many thanks.

    by Barb — January 31, 2020

  29. Regarding the comments about learning the history, culture, etc if the country you are thinking of retiring in. That applies to specific areas of each country, and the same goes for where to retire here in the USA.
    Take the SE bible belt. I don’t believe in any god and am liberal. Not going to make friends there lol!
    It’s that way in every country. Never rush to buy a house because you vacationed there for a couple of weeks and just loved it. Rent for a full year. If in central or S American countries just rent. Then when they have yet another revolution you just leave. 😉

    by Bob — January 31, 2020

  30. Barb –
    After visiting soooo many places, I finally decided on Angers. I know that a lot of people want to retire in the south of France where the sun shines and the weather is warm. Not me. I’ve always believed that you can always put on more clothes to get warm, but there’s only so much you can take off. 🙂 I made a list of what I needed in a city or area, and then checked out cities that seemed to match those requirements, spending at least a week in each place and meeting up with people who lived there. Because I have multiple dogs, my requirements take their needs into account as well. I love France and even during my time in Moscow, spent about 3 weeks there each year. Each trip, I’ve tried to really imagine what life there would be like, and each trip, I’ve come away feeling that this is something I wanted to (and could) do. And as I said earlier, if I can be happy in Moscow (with Moscow winters and Moscow militia and working with suspicious Moscow colleagues), I can probably be pretty happy in France. ???

    by JoannC — January 31, 2020

  31. JoannC-

    Although I have not visited Angers specifically, I think it would be quite nice. The medical care and the trains are quite good (when the rail workers are not on strike of course?). While I am a tad partial to the area around Aix-en-Provence (excluding Marseilles), I think there are loads of areas in France that would be appealing for a lengthy stay or an actual relocation. Living in Russia would be, for me, absolutely not a viable option. I hope your dream comes true!

    by Barb — February 1, 2020

  32. What kind of visa or other travel/residence documentation do you have to have to move abroad, like to Portree Scotland in Skye as mentioned in your recent newsletter, if you do not have a job waiting for you there?

    by Leslie — February 3, 2020

  33. Good question, thanks Leslie. The answer depends on the country. In most countries including Scotland you can stay in the country for 90 days as a tourist, and often renew that for 90 more. Then generally you have to leave. Becoming a legal resident in most European countries for Americans and residents of most countries is difficult. It is sometimes slightly easier if you are retired. If you intend to work there you will need a job and your employer will have to go through some legal hoops to get you there legally. In other countries in less developed parts of the world as a retiree it is easier; mainly you have to be able to prove you can support yourself.
    All that said, many people retire to countries like Scotland, but they do so for only half the year or less. See the State/Country guides at https://www.topretirements.com/state/ for more details about legal retirements.

    by Admin — February 3, 2020

  34. I would not be happy living abroad permanently as I would miss family but see myself spending 1-3 months in Mexico or DR or another warm place not too far from home. We have been to Mexico a few times for 2 weeks at a time. We are partial to Puerto Vallarta where there is a large group of Canadians and a few Americans who winter there for 3-6 months. The price is right, lots of ex-pats there for months at a time. I envision renting, never buying. People are fun, friendly, no crime that I am aware of and many people speak enough English to make life easier. It cost 50 cents to take a bus anywhere and nice restaurants serve a scrumptious meal for $25. Hubby and I share a meal and there is enough to take home for lunch the next day. Taco trucks with very good food for almost nothing. My husband is taking Spanish lessons and I hope to find a conversational Spanish class at some point. Currently we live and work in the Boston area but hope to relocate to Atlanta to be near a daughter and grandchild by age 70. Atlanta is warm enough to winter there but definitely not beach weather. It is usually in the 40s to 60s most of the December, January, February. Atlanta is “a scortcha” (insert Boston accent) in the summer.

    by Joanne — February 3, 2020

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