If living abroad is something you’ve always envisioned, retirement might be the perfect time to explore it. Before you begin dreaming of lazy days with your toes in the sand, there are a few important, and often difficult, questions to ask yourself:
1. Family: A big move can have a huge impact on family dynamics, whether between parents and children or within a couple. Is your whole family on board with the idea? Are your children and grandchildren okay with you being further away and are you okay with possibly missing out on family events and milestones? You may be thinking of a move to be nearer to family, in which case what will you be giving up? Friends, social activities, familiar surroundings? Is it worth leaving these behind to be closer to loved ones? Are you okay with taking on babysitting duties? What would you do in case of a family or medical emergency? Most importantly, is this your spouse's dream too? The last thing you want is for resentment and blame to creep in and spoil your retirement fantasy if they aren’t fully invested in this dream as well.
2. Healthcare: Will you be able to get the care you need? This is a big concern for many people and rightly so. Did you know that Medicare doesn’t pay for overseas medical care? This means if you leave the United States you’ll either need to buy insurance locally or be prepared to pay for health care out-of-pocket. Keep in mind that healthcare standards overseas can vary dramatically, even in other developed countries. Is it worth returning to the U.S. for treatment? If you think you’ll face healthcare issues, do you need to consider insurance that will medevac you home?
3. Financial Management: How will you manage your assets and access your money if you move overseas? A lot of expats keep their banking and investments in the U.S. because the market is generally stable. With the huge improvements in communication and online banking this isn’t as much of an issue as it used to be, but check with your financial institutions on the fees for services like wire transfers, overseas ATM’s and possible inactivity fees. Also, don’t forget that even if you don’t live in the U.S., as long as you don’t renounce your citizenship you will always need to file and pay taxes in the U.S. Are you financially prepared to cover double taxation if necessary? You may also need to pay taxes to the country you move to. Look carefully into the income-tax treaties the U.S. may or may not have with countries you are considering.
4. Culture: Every country is different, with their own rules, social norms and idiosyncrasies. Does this excite or terrify you? Do you look forward to embracing something new or are you happiest surrounded by what is familiar? Are you thrilled at the prospect of learning a new language or do you get bewildered by an unfamiliar dialect? Even the most commonplace tasks can become a challenge when you throw in the added complication of communication complexities and different ways of working. On the upside, it can also be hugely rewarding when you achieve things in your foreign environment despite the obstacles you faced along the way.
Think you’re ready to pack up and move to another country? We can help you figure out how to get there, financially speaking. Just contact us to get started.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.