Many people nurture plans, throughout their lives, of one day retiring to exotic foreign locales, soaking in the sun, and enjoying a radically different pace of life in their twilight years to the one they were engaged in for the majority of their youth.
There is just something that’s always appealing about the notion of escape into a little slice of paradise, lounging around on the beach all day, reading good books, enjoying fine wine, and taking the time to actually slow down and “smell the flowers” after a life spent working hard.
What’s more, if you’ve got a decent amount of money saved away, you can often benefit from property investment overseas, that might not be achievable in your country of origin. It may, for example, be possible to find a Malaysia luxury house for sale at a price point which would be difficult, if not impossible, to find in a built-up part of the United States, or United Kingdom.
Of course, it’s one thing to dream about the allures of retirement in a different country, and it’s quite another thing to actually go through with the process of turning those dreams into a reality, and experiencing the fact of your overseas retirement directly.
Before you decide to retire abroad, and make definite plans, here are a few questions that you should ask yourself first.
Do you know enough about the culture to know that you would actually enjoy living there?
As you might imagine, places seem different – or at least, you see a different side of them – when you are just visiting as a tourist, and when you are actually living there in earnest.
Before you make a point of retiring to a different country, you should first contemplate pretty seriously whether or not you actually know enough about the culture, and how the wider society functions, to enjoy spending perhaps the rest of your life there – rather than just a few weeks, or months.
It might well be that your retirement in a foreign country would be everything you dream, and would provide you with plenty of contentment, satisfaction, and opportunities for fulfilling relaxation.
Then again, it might be that you are “jumping the gun” a bit, and that the fact that you enjoy the place in small doses, doesn’t actually mean that you would be very well-suited to living there over the long term.
Realise that there is a certain allure to novelty, that we all experience in life. New and different things often seem tempting, exciting, and romantic, because of the fact that they present the promise of new opportunities. Once the novelty wears off, though, the fulfilment of the experience has to come from different sources.
If visiting a country “excites” you, that’s great. But once you’ve been living there for a few years, you shouldn’t expect that same rush of excitement to remain. Instead, you have to be able to find ongoing satisfaction and fulfilment in the day-to-day realities of living within that culture.
If possible, try spend a year or so “temporarily” living in the “destination of your dreams” before you commit to moving there permanently.
Is there an expat community you can interact with?
Of course, if you’re going to move to a different country, it should more or less go without saying that you should be willing to interact with the local population, community, and culture.
Nonetheless, we are all nested in our own communities and cultures, too, and it’s likely to be a good sign if there is an expat community from your own country of origin, in the location that you are planning to move to, that you could interact with.
You don’t need to isolate yourself completely and live and socialise exclusively within that expat community, but it can certainly be nice to experience a bit of “home away from home” as and when the mood takes you.
This is an especially beneficial situation if the society you’re moving to is quite far away from the one you have left, and has quite significant cultural differences.
Is the society relatively stable?
There are a lot of beautiful places in the world, with interesting cultures and histories, that can be great to visit.
And yet, many societies are not necessarily as stable as you might like, especially if you are planning to invest your life savings in property there.
Before you commit to moving to any country in your retirement, you should do the best job you can of accurately gauging the economic and political stability of the place, and to avoid moving to regions that might well be thrown into a state of upheaval in the near future.
A massive financial crash, or political or social upheaval, is unlikely to be the icing on top of the cake for your dreams of a happy retirement.
Do you have activities in mind, or a plan for how to occupy yourself?
When people visualise their retirement, they often make the mistake of thinking about things solely in terms of the “postcard” version of what retirement means.
In other words – they imagine themselves sprawled out on the beach, taking in the sun, drinking a fruity cocktail, and enjoying the satisfaction of taking a good break.
The thing is – that’s the kind of “dream” that’s only likely to be fulfilling for a few days, or weeks, at most.
Many people, when they retire, actually find that they struggle quite significantly with boredom and issues of well-being. It’s important to actually have activities in mind, or a plan for how to occupy yourself in your retirement.
Does the destination you are planning to retire to offer those possibilities? Have you even considered what those possibilities might be?