By Kathleen Peddicord
Summary: Kathleen Peddicord, a well-known overseas retirement and international real estate expert, outlines 9 reasons why people think that they cannot retire abroad and why those reasons don't matter.
Reason Not To Retire Overseas #1: "I can't afford it."
Your nest egg has been marginalized in recent years, and you're thinking that there's no way at this point that you can afford to entertain these notions of living or retiring overseas.
Here's the truth: You can't afford not to. I mean this both literally and figuratively.
You could take my advice and launch a more comfortable, more interesting, safe, pleasant, even adventure-filled life in a number of places around the world that I introduce to you in these dispatches on a budget of as little as US$1,200 per month or less. In some parts of Panama, Colombia, Thailand, and Ecuador, for example, you could live comfortably on a budget of less than US$1,000 per month. I'd be surprised if you can't afford that.
But here's the real point: You owe it to yourself to go find out for yourself just how affordable and, more important, just how fun and adventure-filled a new life in a new country can be. I say again that, cost of living aside, you can't afford not to do this.
Reason Not To Retire Overseas #2: "It's not the right time."
There is no right time.
Sure, it'd be easier to stay put and do nothing. But where would that leave you at the end of your days? What stories would you have to tell? What adventures to remember?
Years ago, I met a gentleman from Tennessee who explained that he had been researching the idea of retiring to the Dominican Republic for two years. "I'm convinced the DR is a place I want to be," he told me, "but I'm just not sure the timing is right..."
"Have you considered other options?" I asked.
"Well, before I started looking closely at the Dominican Republic, I researched Costa Rica for four years."
"What did you end up doing there?"
"Oh, I never did anything. After four years of looking, prices had risen so high that I figured it no longer made sense."
"Ready, fire, aim," I say. You can plan to reinvent your life in retirement overseas...or you can launch a new life overseas and then make some plans.
Reason Not To Retire Overseas #3: "I don't want to leave my home and family for good."
So don't. The real beauty of reinventing your life in a new country today is that it is an infinitely customizable idea. Keep your home in the States if you want and spend part of your time, as your comfort level allows, somewhere exotic and sunny. Establish a second base somewhere foreign...or try out a different overseas locale each year. Come and go as you like, as often as you like, knowing that you've always got a safety net "back home." There is no right or wrong strategy for how to retire overseas.
Reason Not To Retire Overseas #4: "I need to earn a living."
In today's world, with a little imagination and self-confidence, you can earn a living anywhere. In fact, it can be easier today for an American to earn an independent living in a foreign country than in the United States, because you have knowledge, experience, skills, and connections that the locals don't.
Reason Not To Retire Overseas #5: "I don't have enough capital to make an international move like this."
You need precious little. Take my word for it: If you want to do this, you can pull together the capital you need to make it happen...because, seriously, you don't need a lot.
Reason Not To Retire Overseas #6: "I don't speak the language."
I'm not a linguist. And I understand--it gets harder to learn a language as you get older. That's why you're lucky. You speak English, and English is the world's language. Across much of this planet, anyone who is anyone (that is, anyone you might want to communicate or do business with), as well as any school kid, speaks English. That said, it's worth noting that learning a new language is one of the best ways to keep your brain limber as you age.
Reason Not To Retire Overseas #7: "I'm too old."
Are you dead? If not, then you're not too old.
Yes, it's easier and might seem more sensible to take a seat on the front porch and await the arrival of the Grim Reaper. Or maybe your life is already so exciting and wonderful that you can't handle a little change?
If that's not the case, then I'd recommend that you take a cue from my friend Jules, who is 88-years-old and making plans right now for his move from Florida to Belize. Even after a lifetime of adventure, traveling the world with the U.S. Navy, Jules is up for another change and a new start.
Reason Not To Retire Overseas #8: "I'm too young."
As I said, in today's world, if you've got a laptop and an Internet connection, you can earn an income anywhere...and concern over making a living is the only objection I can imagine someone younger than retirement age could possibly suggest for why he (or she) isn't jumping at a the idea of launching a new life in some sunny, sexy foreign locale.
I promise you that, no matter how old you are right now, if you make this move, you won't regret a day that follows. If you don't, eventually, you'll grow to regret every day of adventure that you missed.
Reason Not To Retire Overseas #9: "I've got to wait for my children to finish their schooling."
Why? Speaking as a mom who has spent the last 13 years raising two children (the second, my son, born in Ireland) across four countries, I can tell you with confidence that a life abroad is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids. They might object at first (my daughter, born in Baltimore, cried her way through our entire first year living overseas, in Ireland), but, in time, they'll grow to love the life and to appreciate the effort you've made providing it for them. Stay put "for the sake of the kids," and, when they're grown and discover what they missed out on, they won't forgive you.
First Published: May 18, 2011