56 Replies Latest reply on Sep 29, 2014 2:53 PM by smaneck

    Retiring Abroad

      Has anyone explored retiring abroad?
       
      I have been seeing an increased number of articles in print and  digital media of the benefits of retiring in places like Panama, Belize,  Granada, etc. Has anyone explored these options and what are your  experiences and thoughts on this subject?
        • Re: Retiring Abroad
          Canoejh
          I read about these exotic places and think it would be fun but like everything else there are tradeoffs.  First is family, by that I mean not seeing loved ones on a regular basis.  If your OK with that then I would check out the US State Department advisories about each location, the primary concern here is safety.  Then there is medical capabilities, will your current medical coverage stay in effect or will you be on your own. Is the medical care up to the standard you expect?
           
          I would visit where you might want to settle, are there americans there, are they content, what are the trade-offs.  Spend six months renting to see it the community you want to join is in fact what you think it is.
           
          Lots to think about and experience before you make a radical change.
            • Re: Retiring Abroad
              Hey, thanks for responding. You are right of course, about everything you said. I am originally from India and all my family is back there. Keeping my current schedule of visits is as easy from Panama as it is from New Jersey. So that is not much of a problem.
               
              Healthcare is a concern. 
               
              And a six-month trial period makes a lot of sense. Thanks.
                • Re: Retiring Abroad
                  Canoejh
                  Best of Luck to you!
                   
                   
                  • Re: Retiring Abroad
                    Celsa
                    Why are you not thinking of retiring in India???
                      • Re: Retiring Abroad
                        Retiring to India has always been the plan. But that is a subject I need not research. Hence didn't bring that up.
                         
                        I was just curious about all these other places that are suddenly being written up about.
                         
                        And too, I was interested in a place I have never lived in. India and the US, been there, done that.
                          • Re: Retiring Abroad
                            jschorr
                            I live in Chiang Mai Thailand 6 months of the year.  Love it.  Thailand is definitely a place to consider for retirement, but it takes 17 to 24 hours to get here from the States, so that's a consideration.  For example, grand children are less likely to visit often and getting back to the USA demands both time and money (RT tickets are $1600 to $2000 for coach). 
                             
                              • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                Pyone
                                Do you mind telling me what do you like about Chaingmai? My husband and I are recently getting interested in this place. I am told that foreigners can own/buy only condos. Please tell me all good and bad about Chaingmai.
                                thanks much in advance.
                                pyone
                                  • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                    jschorr
                                    Dear Pyone,
                                     
                                    My email is jschorr@stetson.edu and my Skype is john.k.schorr.
                                     
                                    It would probably be better to discuss Chiang Mai using those communication tools.
                                     
                                    For now, yes, non-Thais can not own land.   They can own a condo in their name, but there are some restrictions there too.  My wife is Thai, so we own a house in her name, car is in my name, bank accounts in both our names.
                                     
                                    I recommend you visit CM for an extended stay before making further plans.  It is a wonderful city, and Thais are wonderful people.  But, it's not for everyone.  Instead of planning to buy a condo or house, I'd recommend you rent for a while.  Rents are VERY cheap, and if you find the right place and the right landlord, you may never want to buy (2 bedroom, 2 bath, house, AC, carport, nice neighborhood: $400/mo. or less). 
                                     
                                    There is an active expat community here and the cost of living here is very reasonable.  Cars, cheese, wine, gas, are more expensive than in the States, almost everything else is much cheaper.  Hope this helps, and I look forward to hearing from you, if you have further questions.  John
                                      • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                        Pyone
                                        Dear John,
                                        Thank you so much for your response. Your response is very helpful. We have never been to Chaingmai, but one of my nephew is going school there. He was the one get our interest in Chaingmai. We want to retire in SE Asia and seem like Chaingmai is one of better options. I will get in touch with you in future with more specific questions and concerns.
                                        best regards,
                                        pyone
                                          • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                            jschorr
                                            Dear Pyone,
                                             
                                            Glad to help.  We return to the US in January for one final semester teaching at Stetson University in Florida this spring.  After July, 2014, we will be pretty much permanent residents in Chiang Mai.  My contact info is:
                                             
                                            John Schorr
                                            skype: john.k.schorr
                                            cell in USA  386 405-2212
                                            cell in Chiang Mai: 0850302143
                                             
                                            Good luck with your retirement plans.
                                             
                                            John
                                      • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                        Helen711
                                        I have a friend from Great Britain who lives in Cheng Mai full time. She lived in India for a dozen years (which is where I met her), but they wouldn't renew her visa, so she had to go somewhere else. She can't afford to live in England. She spends a lot of time volunteering.
                                         
                                        How did you find your housing? Do you own a house or apartment? If so, is it vacant the 6 months of the year you're not there? Are you an active member in any organizations for English speaking expats? Are you by yourself or do you have a partner/ traveling companion?
                                         
                                        I'd love to read your responses! 
                              • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                I am thinking of retiring in Sweden.  My fiancé is there.  Healthcare is wonderful, environment, friendly people.  Extremely clean.  Will TIAA/CREF automatically deposit funds in foreign bank accounts?
                                 
                                Thank you
                                Katharine
                                  • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                    KSTB
                                    No, TIAA-CREF does not transmit money to foreign accounts. You have to maintain an US account.
                                      • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                        KSTB said...
                                        No, TIAA-CREF does not transmit money to foreign accounts. You have to maintain an US account.

                                        Really? Did not know that. In one of my conversations with a  TIAA-CREF service rep, he mentioned that direct depositing to a foreign  account should not be a problem. This was a few yrs ago. Maybe things  have changed since. How current is your info?

                                      • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                        MyR Community Manager
                                        Hi wendyfan1,
                                         
                                        Thank you for your participation in the MyRetirement.org online community. For questions about your specific situation, please contact TIAA-CREF at 800 842-2252.
                                          • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                            DRJJG
                                            Costa Rica or Nicaraga are great places to retire. Costa is a bit expensive and built up now and Nica is just getting started with their retirement facilties. Others are pushing for Honduras as the new hot spot. but the poverity and Gov't instability is a bit scary to me. You might want to rent a  small cottage in any of these countries for 6 month to a year to see how you like.
                                          • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                            Helen711
                                            My husband and I lived in Stockholm for 16 months. It's a beautiful city; we absolutely loved it! There is an American Women's Club,an English speakers Club, and everybody speaks English, but there are trade-offs. Living in Sweden is expensive; it's twice as expensive as living in Atlanta (where I live now...it's more expensive than living in New York City), housing in Stockholm is very, VERY difficult to procure and quite expensive, street signs and labels on food items in the grocery store are all in Swedish, and even though you may think the culture is much like American culture, after you're there for a while you'll discover that there are a lot of differences. I'm not saying that's bad, it's just different.
                                             
                                            On the whole, Swedes mind their own business and don't speak, so don't expect neighbors to greet you, even though they've seen you dozens of times. If, on the other hand, you introduce yourself, they will speak to you in a friendly manner. Crime is low but taxes are high. Expect to pay 40-45% of your income in taxes. We paid 42%. The government welfare system doesn't come cheap!
                                            • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                              I am not so sure about not being able to deposit in foreign countries. I am in the process of arranging deposits in my husband's country. TIAA-CREF indicates that this is possible with a global account: Citibank or HSBC. Will know in a few months when we have jumped through all of the hurdles!
                                            • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                              pmv719
                                              Are there immigration status issues relative to retiring overseas? I was thinking UK or Spain?
                                              • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                psweeney
                                                We are also thinking about retiring to Belize. Great suggestions in this forum, but wanted to know if anyone had any specific suggestions for working part-time out of the country after retirement? Thanks.
                                                • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                  coa
                                                  I have been thinking about retiring abroad... some roadblocks: (1) need to keep an account in the USA (to receive your retirement), (2) need to have an account in the country you are living in to get your money out, (3) the banks charge you for every transaction (to transfer your money from US account to country XX, then to convert your money from US dollars to whatever currency).  So, I wonder how much money one loses at the end, which may be (economically) just as staying her!  If you are thinking about healthcare... better just decide to die at home (whatever you live) than going to a hospital... they would kill you at the hospital....
                                                    • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                      coa said...
                                                      I have been thinking about retiring abroad... some roadblocks: (1) need to keep an account in the USA (to receive your retirement), (2) need to have an account in the country you are living in to get your money out, (3) the banks charge you for every transaction (to transfer your money from US account to country XX, then to convert your money from US dollars to whatever currency).  So, I wonder how much money one loses at the end, which may be (economically) just as staying her!  If you are thinking about healthcare... better just decide to die at home (whatever you live) than going to a hospital... they would kill you at the hospital....
                                                      One of Panama's selling points is that they use US$s. Hence the currency is stable and you don't have to pay any exchange fees. Something for you to consider. However there may be other bank charges.
                                                      • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                        bberg65
                                                        It's obvious that you haven't done much research concerning hospital care in other parts of the world.  
                                                        • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                          Money transfer fees would seem small when balanced against the significant decrease in the cost of living in many of the So. American or Central Amer. countries other here have discussed. Are those fees really that large?
                                                            • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                              KevinMpa

                                                              About those money transfer fees. I am in Mexico now and use a checking account ATM card. This particualr card refunds my withdrawal fees charged by the local bank. I withdraw local currency.  I have another card through my credit union that allows a limited number of free or reimbursed withdrawals, maybe 6 a quarter. I have never paid much in money transfer fees. Occassionally, I have wired money, but if I recall that fee was minimal, as well.

                                                              I am not sure it is appropriate for me to suggest other financial service firms on this forum, but if you do a web search for no-fee ATM checking, you will find options. And I get a tiny bit of interest on the checking acct. I toggle money from higher interest accts as needed.

                                                                • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                  thanks for your response to the points about the bank transfer fees. Good to know that there are more options than just 'pay through the nose!'
                                                                    • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                      gdl2010
                                                                      I am interesting in spending half my time in Mexico when I retire. If anyone knows of gated communities around Ajijic in Mexico please let me know. I have been trying to rent a 2 bedroom home for next winter. I would like a safe gated community that has a swimming pool and a club house.Any ideas anyone?
                                                              • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                yanushkevich
                                                                I retired in France for twelve years, 1991 to 2003.  I did get my Tiaa annuity checks sent to me and converted in French Francs, then Euros, no problem.

                                                                I kept a US checking brokerage account with Fidelity, but Fidelity did cancel my debit card for living abroad.  My brother co-signed a Bank of America card for me and I was back in business.

                                                                I left France mostly because of the medical care (surprise, surprise) which everyone thinks is tip top;  the surgery was acceptable, I went to a private clinic, but I did catch an infection there, the other doctors were OK as long as it was not serious, but for serious stuff, I had to buy supplemental insurance to help cover the "high" fees, otherwise I was relegated to a fresh out of medical school doctor who only charged the French Soc. Security rate of $25 a visit at the time.   Worse the dental care was atrocious, you can see it by looking at the mouths of elderly French people (all in need of prophylaxis and lots of bridges and missing molars).

                                                                My teeth go so bad, I had to come back to the States and got almost a dozen implants to remedy the damage done by the French dentists.
                                                                 
                                                                Now that I am settled here, with new friends and close to family, I much prefer the States, Medicare is top notch as far as I am concerned, and life is much cheaper here.  Of course when I lived in France, the role was reversed with a Dollar worth 1.3 Euros.
                                                                 

                                                                  • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                    weiyan
                                                                    May I still ask you one question about medicare?

                                                                    I know medicare will not cover the medical costs abroad, should I pay here and buy a policy in France at the same time?
                                                                     
                                                                    I am planning to stay in France for one year to study French at a university after my retirement.
                                                                     
                                                                    Thank you so much.
                                                                      • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                        yanushkevich
                                                                        you won't believe this, if you want to be on the up and up, you should sign up for their "securite sociale" which covers most routine expenses, as long as you stay away from specialis.

                                                                        However, believe it or not, even if you are an illegal alien, you are covered by this securite sociale;  I tried to become legit and got a lot of running around, whereas I know some tourists that came, burned their passport and stayed on.  If you look like you are not going to cause trouble, they leave you alone.

                                                                        I am sure  if you had a medical emergency you would be covered.  But like I said, I wanted to be correct, and I did sign up for their social security and got a supplementary coverage, because I wanted to be able to go to a specialist if I had a medical issue, and those guys are expensive and the securite social only reimburses you for the cheapest doctor fee, i.e, the guy just getting out of medical school.

                                                                        hope that helps
                                                                    • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                      CyByrd
                                                                      My wife and I have lived part-time north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for the last 13 years and we love it.
                                                                       
                                                                      Air travel from anywhere in the US is 3 to 6 hours, banking is easy and safe. All healthcare including dental is inexpensive and excellent. The nationals, in western Mexico, are warm and friendly with tourists and full time foreigners. Our grandchildren love it here and come to visit often. 
                                                                       
                                                                      The US media has overstated the danger in Mexico, but this is not an issue in our state. 
                                                                       
                                                                      Cy 
                                                                      • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                        conklinc
                                                                        We've been retired and living in Melbourne Australia for 5 years now.  We bought a unit and a car the year before I jumped ship.  We come back every Dec. for 2 months.  $$ is no issue.  We use the credit card (US, Visa) everywhere and an ATM for cash occasionally. 
                                                                         
                                                                        We have a national health scheme, but it is NOT socialized medicine.  It is merely single payer.  We also have private health insurance so that we can go to a private hospital and it pays some of the "gap" fees--deductibles.  I had open heart surgery in April '09, and my doc was trained at the Mayo Clinic.  Out of pocket expenses were less than two grand.  Top notch care at a Catholic hospital. 
                                                                         
                                                                        We love it here.  I play golf and tennis or we ride our bikes on the many, many off road trails in Melbourne and Victoria virtually every day.  Melbourne is rated the number one city in the world to live in. 
                                                                         
                                                                        They're picky who they let in though.  My immigration visa cost me $1100.  My wife is an Aussie.  If you can show that you have enough money, they'll let you in.
                                                                          • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                            1-Before you pack your bags, confirm that your retirement funds - pension, SS, TIAA-CREP, et al remain available.
                                                                            2-Check about maintaining "foreign" (as in US) bank accounts. 
                                                                            3-Understand you must FILE US income tax forms, even if you have a $0 obligation; failure to file can cost you your citizenship.
                                                                            4-Compare costs of all the necessities - including internet connectivity.  
                                                                            5. Make a "pilot trip" to your desired destination; stay a couple of weeks and talk to the natives and other ex-pats. (Is there a language issue? 
                                                                            6. Can you live w/public transportation? 
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                          • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                            Jackalope
                                                                            One thing that I've found about retiring to many of the "third world" countries (Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, etc.) is something most Americans take for granted....cars.
                                                                             
                                                                            In many of these countries, if you try to bring a car in, the taxes and fees are horrendous; easily doubling the price of your car or more.  Likewise, if you buy one there, you will almost certainly find you must buy a used car to avoid the import fees and it is a long and arduous process.  You don't just walk into CarMax and write a check.
                                                                             
                                                                            And finally, you don't have the choice of car that you do in the US.  Be prepared to buy a small 4x4 SUV like a RAV4 because gas prices are over the moon and many roads are unpaved. 
                                                                            • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                              Joe2024
                                                                              I am aware of only one couple who actually did retire - to Belize.  Over 10 years ago.
                                                                              Healthcare is a primary consideration.  Secondary is the safety of the location.  I am interested in doing a home swap for up to a year - but in Europe - I have time and am only beginning to investiagte it.
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                              • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                                sunnyhunny
                                                                                TIAA-CREF will not talk to you if you're outside of the USA, so no help with your accounts.
                                                                                • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                                  Pec447

                                                                                  I am 58 yrs old and have been contemplating retirement for my 62nd birthday.  My wife is Brazilian and we own two houses in Brasil and we have a condo, which we will be selling when we go.  Health insurance is not an issue as the premium is cheaper than the US.  I cannot have brazilian citizenship or I would loose my american citizenship, the government would issue a permanent brazilian green card. 

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Brazil might be expensive where the tourists go, but it is inexpensive if you stay on the suburbs of the main cities.  Our houses are near the beach, about 3 hours from Rio de Janeiro by plane and it is as beautiful as Rio.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  If I could retire today I would.  Any ideas will be welcome.

                                                                                  • Re: Retiring Abroad

                                                                                    Has anyone retired to Ecuador or Bolivia? Anyone doing TESL abroad successfully?

                                                                                    • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                                      Ashnah7

                                                                                      I am nowhere close to retirement but reading all these posts has been quite eye opening. The conversations are rich! Thanks.

                                                                                      • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                                        c5ac5b9

                                                                                        Don't remember if I've replied to this thread or not.  I'm 55 and will retire early in 2017 to the Coral Coast of Fiji at the age of 57, turning 58 later in the year.  I have a farm there and will live off the land, as well as supplemental groceries from Sigatoka town.  Cost of living is low there, people friendly and well, I've had enough of the USA and the politics.  I have friends there, so I know what to expect.

                                                                                        • Re: Retiring Abroad
                                                                                          bobblank

                                                                                          I lived overseas as an educator for 40+ years, and decided to return to the US to retire, mostly because of Medicare access and greater permanence and stability.  This is the first time in my life that I have everything in one house, rather than in two or more storage units. 

                                                                                           

                                                                                          I now have a house in NW Washington to be close to Vancouver, Canada, a place I always visit and enjoy.  However, I really miss the excitement of being overseas.  I'd like to have your opinions on the following question:

                                                                                           

                                                                                          Do you extensively travel but still keep your house in the States or sell it and rent for the rest of you life?  Someone mentioned he spends 6 months of the year in Thailand.  Do you still keep your house in the states?