Living Abroad-What Lifestyle Do You Want?
Everyone has different needs and wants, when thinking about where retire or live. The best way to begin thinking about what and where you want to be is by making a list. What are the requirements you personally would need to live abroad? What things would you need to feel at home in a place? What are your priorities? Remember this is fun. Also remember this is only the investigative first step. What is highest on your list? What is lowest?
- Climate-hot and humid, dry, elevation
- City Life or Country Life, Beaches or Mountains
- Infrastructure-Potable water,dependable electricity, internet service
- Healthcare-Hospitals and Doctors, special requirements
- Safety-Gated communities or living with locals
- Transportation-Ease of getting around by public transportation or owning a car
- Culture-Concerts, Plays, Historical Place
- Language-Do you know another language or want to learn one?
- Closeness to the US-Will you want to visit the US often or have people visit you?
- Expat Communities-Would you prefer to live where other North Americans are?
- Sports and Hobbies-Do you want to be close to golfing, fishing, hiking?
When You Have Made Your List
Do research on countries that you might think have many or all of the things you would like and need to live comfortably. Find out what those countries budgets would look like for the places you might want to live. Cities in most countries will be more expensive to live than their outlaying towns and villages. If in your research you find a country you love but the city you investigate seems expensive, look to the suburbs surrounding it or small towns a few miles away. This difference can make major changes in your monthly budget, but still provide you access to the lifestyle you are looking for.
One of the things that I found really helpful was the “Retirement Index.” This is a great list well researched that compares countries on things like cost of living, quality of health care, crime, climate, and much more. This list is updated every year and comes up with the top countries to live in for retirement. International living has put this out for the last several years. You can find the top 2015 countries at International Living Magazine
This list referenced things that I had not thought of that might matter to me more when living in a new country.
Figuring Your Finances
Do some hard looking at what you have financially and what you can live on. I can guarantee that somewhere in the world you can live on any budget that you require. Most countries have Visa options for those already retired. This means you don’t have to invest any money in the country other than showing them you receive a monthly income from Social Security with a minimum amount.
If you are interested in buying a home in any country, RENT first. Rent can be very cheap or expensive again depending on where you choose to live. Renting first will give you a “lay of the land” experience. Plus in many places you will find it hard to resell a home. So don’t get stuck in a neighborhood, city or place that doesn’t appeal to you after you have been there some time. Take your time finding that special place. Some people who move overseas become “perpetual travelers” who never buy a home because they like the freedom to be able to see the world and move from country to country without burdens.
Discovering Where You Can Live on Your Budget Abroad
I began investigating becoming an expat back when the only information you could get was through books. I went to the library and bought several books only to discover that most were outdated or had misinformation. I became discouraged until I found really helpful resources online.
You are getting the benefit of my hours of searching online to find the best sources for updated information. Over the years I have found several online sites that dedicate themselves to providing updated information, where you can find information on most countries that you might be interested in. Plus there are several other fun ways to learn about different countries.
GREAT INFORMATION FOR YOUR INITIAL MOVING ABROAD INVESTIGATION
- You tube videos- go to http://www.youtube.com and do searches for videos on countries, cities and towns that are interesting to you.
- Watch House Hunters International. You can discover what some communities look like. You can find this show on your television schedule or go to:http://www.hgtv.com/house-hunters-international/show/index.html and see some older shows.
- Great Information on general expat questions: http://www.escapeartist.com/ Escape Artist
- Visit: http://internationalliving.com/ This is a great site. I personally have had a subscription with them for over 10 years. They have free information but you can get a more in depth subscription at a nominal price, well worth the money. Here is one of their videos.
- Visit: http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/ This is equally a great site. Again for a small fee you can access the entire knowledge they offer.
- Expat Forum http://www.expatforum.com/
- Expat Exchange http://www.expatexchange.com/index.cfm
- Future Expat Forum http://futureexpats.com/are-you-a-boomer-or-a-hammock-swinging-adventurer
A third way to get information is in blogs. This is my blog about being an expat. There are hundreds of blogs out there. Some are more specific by place and country, others are more general. Blogs do not necessarily encourage interaction with questions, but some do. They are more of a sharing of personal experience. However, you can get some very good insight about a place by the personal reaction to it. Often blogs will include personal pictures and videos. Again this can help you get a better sense of the place you are interested in. Some good general blogs include:
Great Current Content on Countries Found on A Really Cool Site
There is so much more information than when I started investigating doing this. There is another really great source for information on becoming an expat. The site is called: http://overseasradio.com/. This site features several radio hosts with shows every week about where they are in the world. It is a great insight to what is currently happening in countries. You can subscribe for free and get notices when shows you want to listen to are on. They also have experts in tax, asset protection and legal matters. This is a fairly new program so any archives should be recent content. Check it out. You will spend hours listening to people all over the world describe being an expat in different countries.
You Can Learn From Those You Have Already Become Expats Living Abroad
I have held a subscription to both International Living and Live and Invest Overseas for years. And in doing so, I thought that I was extremely informed about moving abroad and becoming an expat. Many times from both of these organizations I was emailed and invited to attend seminars both stateside and abroad. These seminars were touted as the best sources for exchanging information with those who had already become expats to meeting people who wanted to be. For years, I hesitated doing the seminar thing.
However, in October of 2011 I became resolved that I wanted to meet all the people I had been emailing, and okay, maybe learn something new. The October Live and Invest seminar was in Orlando. That was acceptable as a destination, although the seminar itself did not seem cheap to me. This is partly why I had hesitated go before. But this time it was a Friday-Sunday event whose topics seemed to cover everything and 20 countries. So I signed up.
Never having been to an event like this before I had no expectations but thought it might not live up to the price I had paid for it.
WRONG, just plain wrong. I needed a vacation from this “vacation.” Over 400 of us wanta be expats attended. Two speakers ran simultaneously in two different rooms from 8am Friday morning until 6 Friday night. With a hour for lunch. This continued both Sat and Sun. Speakers also had booths set up with more information. You could set up private times to speak with each about any questions you had. Twenty countries were represented. Seminars on these countries included basic information along with each countries Visa requirements. Question and answer periods were at each event. There were also speakers from the banking industry, attorney and tax seminars, and so much more. It was hard to pick and choose between the individual seminars. One evening held a wine and cheese party, where speakers again mingled with the attendees answering questions. Everyone from speakers to attendees were extremely nice people. It was good to be with people who were having the same dream.
The entire event was more than worth the fee. We made contacts with people who we now email on a regular basis. Having those contacts is invaluable when you need references on where to go for more information. I wish I had attended one of these seminars sooner.
I firmly believe that if you are just starting the search for a new country or are just curious about what it is all about this is an excellent way to get your feet wet. Both International Living and Live and Invest Overseas have these seminars during the course of the year. Sometimes in the US and sometimes in different countries. It is a sort of short cut to be able to get lots of current information all in one place. You will also make friends and develop relationships whether or not you move.
You can find current seminars for Live and Invest Overseas here: Live and Invest Overseas Events
Inside the International Living Magazine you can find their current events and seminars:Subscribe to International Living Magazine
Check out the next step in the process for living abroad.