More and more baby boomers are opting for a retirement filled with travel and adventure overseas.
How can that be? Especially in a world of rising costs and dwindling savings? Simple. They're packing their bags and moving to a foreign country where every experience is fresh, exciting and the cost of living is lower.
But to get to the point where you shut the door on your life in the States and embrace a new, very different culture and language takes a little doing. You need to weigh the pros and cons and make some wise decisions about where you'll go and what you'll do once you get there. For some people, this is a piece of cake. For others, it can be a nerve-wracking experience.
There are online quizzes that can help, but the best way to approach this is by ruthlessly and honestly profiling yourself. This sounds easier than it is. I know more than a few people who moved to the beach for instance, only to find out that they're not beach people. It's a great place to go on vacation, but living there is something else. If you're not keen on heat, humidity, pesky insects, and sand in every crevice, it may not be for you.
Likewise, if you can't live without the sounds of the waves lulling you to sleep at night, a mountain location may not be your cup of tea. And "city people" may not do well at all in a small town that lacks the cultural opportunities they're accustomed to.
Here, in no particular order, are eight factors to consider when choosing your overseas retirement destination:
Affordability. How does the cost of living stack up with your income and budget?
Health Care. Will you be comfortable with the quality of health care you'll receive, are good health insurance plans available to you and will costs be in line with what you can afford?
Ease of Transition. Are you comfortable with language and currency issues? Are there some familiar items in the grocery stores and pharmacies? How easy is it to get a resident visa and to import your household items?
Accessibility. How close is it to your friends and family back home? Is there an international airport and other amenities, like good hospitals, nearby?
Community. Is there an expat group? Are you comfortable with the locals and their culture?
Housing Prospects. Are homes for rent or sale at a reasonable price? If you buy a property and later change your mind, will you be able to sell it easily enough?
Climate. Are you looking for four seasons or year-round warm weather? It's best to plan your check-out visit during the worst weather season so you'll know exactly what to expect.
Things to Do. What are your hobbies and will you be able to continue to enjoy those? If you like good restaurants or artistic events, will there be enough of these to keep you busy?
Prioritize these in order of importance to you. Assign some weight to each factor and add in any others that concern you. Maybe you'll be taking children on this journey and you need good, accredited schools close by. Maybe you'll want to find work or start a business. If so, the place you move to should be conducive to all these things.
And here's the best advice: You must spend time in a location before you even think about moving there. Most importantly, don't settle for less. If a place you have your heart set on doesn't match with your personal wish list, keep looking. Your paradise is out there and the more honest you are with yourself and your needs, no matter what they are, the easier it will be to find it and the happier your experience will be.
Photo of Paris by Flickr user wlappe