Retire Overseas?

Retire Overseas?

Imagine what life would be like if you retired overseas.  There you are, sitting on your lakeside patio in a warm climate for $500 a month rent.   Your total expenses come to about $1200 for two people, leaving some savings to travel back home when you want to go see the grandkids.   A great hospital is in the next town, as well as the international airport.   Your food is fresh and cheap.   The neighbors are friendly and the maid who comes to clean once a month is happy for the job.    This could be you.   Yes, you.

Lots of people retire abroad.   The US Social Security department says that well over 600,000 checks are mailed internationally every month.   And this doesn’t count the checks deposited at home and drawn from internationally.   That’s 600,000!   This could be you.  Yes, you.

Living abroad doesn’t mean you have to stay in one place forever, either.   You could have a home base in the states (with your things in storage) to visit for awhile and then go back to your lakeside cottage or go someplace else.   Without a job pinning you down to one address , stop thinking that you have to live in just one location!  Our friend Susan and her husband went to live in Chili for a winter one year – while it was a beautiful summer down there – and then came back home to Portland, OR.

Or how about spending half the year near family or friends and then picking someplace (cheaper) to go for the rest of the year?    What you save living in the south of Spain could certainly help you live at home – if you decide to go back.

You don’t have to pick a “forever home” at all.

But there are definitely some things to consider.

Emergencies:   You might have to return unexpectedly to the US for a family emergency, death, illness.   You should have a reserved funds to cover the price of a ticket home.

Healthcare:   Your Medicare and supplemental policy may not cover you while abroad for very long.  Make sure to check the details with your plan.  However, healthcare abroad is a fraction of what it is in the states.

Language:  Make sure you get a rental contract written in English unless you are fluent in that language.   You would do very well to take some language classes or learn from a native.   The rest of the world sees us as “rich gringos” and you don’t want to be “a mark”.

Research:   Finally, the glossy brochures are generally written by someone in real estate.  Find someone who has lived in the country you are interested in and get their story.   Take a vacation there first and see exactly where you want to live.   Imagine someone from Europe coming here and moving, sight unseen, into a terrible part of town, who doesn’t know the language, and can’t leave because they are bound by a contract they didn’t understand.   Don’t be that guy.

So 600,000+ people live abroad probably on just their Social Security?   It could be you.  Yes, you! 

Photo By mst7022 via


Michael is a retired, single, world traveler who enjoys being outdoors, a good pint of beer or glass of wine, and museums.