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An Expat Talks about Retiring in Tobercurry, Ireland

May 13, 2019


A expat in Tobercurry talks about how she and her husband chose to retire in Ireland - the more affordable lifestyle (living on less than $2,000 a month), Ireland's public healthcare system, finding a home through an Estate Agent, enjoying walking everywhere and not needing a car, the sense of safety and more. She cannot stress enough that anyone thinking about retiring in Ireland research diligently and seek the advice of other expats.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Tobercurry

Why did you choose to retire abroad?

We chose overseas retirement for the sole purpose of making our money go the longest possible time. I retired in 2016 at 65 and my husband was 56. I had ancestral ties to the UK so I started by getting UK citizenship years earlier. Having completed that I also found family ties to Ireland so we spent a year 2015-2016 exploring cost of living in those two countries. Ireland proved extremely favorable to seniors and we made a strict budget we knew would outlast us. Once committed to the finances (low by USA standards) we made the leap.

Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?

We live in Ireland all year having moved here in spring 2016.

Why did you choose the country you retired to?

Ireland is not the least expensive place to live but we felt more secure in dealing with an English speaking culture. We both speak a minimal amount of German, French and Spanish but the costs in those countries exceeded our financial goals. South America offered very inexpensive places to live but concerns for the remoteness and politics steered us away.

Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?

We lived in Germany when working there for a few years and learned the language. It taught us it's relatively easy to merge.

How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?

We have lived in Ireland for three years since retiring in 2016. We had never been there but through diligent research (repeat that (DILIGENT RESEARCH) we connected with another expat and he was able to introduce us to relevant agencies, very helpful.

How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?

1 - Ireland

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What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?

Honestly, because we are very sensitive to new cultures and do all we can to blend in, basically casting aside preconceived notions and limiting our "but in America" phrases we were warmly welcomed by all. Ireland is truly made of people who know hardship and having ancestors who left during really bad times they respect others who come to this country. No, we have not felt challenged.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?

There are so many rewards to having retired to Ireland. We chose the western side for its outstanding beauty and calm, relaxing environment. Medical is amazing and once resident full time, the perks are nearly endless. Research is vital to know what an expat is expected to do to move to Ireland and don’t feel foolish asking questions. Never try to beat the system though. Do what is expected and all should go extremely well.

What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?

We would not change a single step towards our ultimate choice of retirement countries and we feel the research we did ahead of the decision made it work!

What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)

Tobercurry is truly amazing for the small country type town that it is. There is a high level of attention to the arts, annual Drama festivals, Annual summer music school and performances, hiking trails, boating, everything a nature lover could seek. Nightlife during festivals is abundant and almost every night, all year long, one of the local pubs host a musician or poet for reading. The “Craic” is plentiful (gatherings to chat) and at times very lively!

What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)

Because standards in any country might change, we suggest researching the website pertaining to the country of choice. Ireland allowed UK Citizens (me) free entrance and residency in Ireland (no visa necessary) and my husband was allowed to be with me. Since our retirement here, due to ancestry, I earned my Irish Citizenship and so now my husband may apply for his Irish Citizenship too.

Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)

In Ireland the quickest method to find housing is through an Estate Agent or Auctioneer. We arrived during a housing shortage but once on lists we found a rental home quite easily. We are now purchasing a home, a simple cash process. There are slight differences here, rent price is locked in for two years instead of the typical one, so that is a plus.

Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?

We put together a very modest budget, covering everything we paid for in the US. Amazingly, we were spot on in our estimates with medical far exceeding our expectations. Because if not life threatening, as full time residents we avail of the Irish system waiting four months for most procedures once they are recommended by a local GP. We highly recommend a private insurance plan to cover things needing more immediate attention. Full coverage in Ireland for us cost us a little over $150 US dollars per month versus that same cost in the US running $2500 per month!

What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?

When you plan for retirement, make a list of every item you ever spend money on in your home now, including a pack of gum or a snack or treat, everything! The research your new home country choice for those exact same costs. That’s your budget. Then allow for the value of your current currency to change on a daily basis.

How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?

We live like the wealthiest US resident here in Ireland for approximately $2000 per month. We chose not to purchase a car because, as a senior, transportation (bus and train) is free and easily accessible and my husband gets a pass too.

Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)

Almost every town or village has a family doctor (GP), readily available, some even making house calls after hours. Once the GP, or vision doctor or dental doctor make a referral to a specialist under the Irish system (most often free) one waits four months for an appointment and forward going procedures. If an emergency, local hospitals provide immediate care. My husband had full hernia surgery under general anesthesia and the cost, out of pocket to us was €1 (yes, a little over a dollar US). The bill amount Ireland covered was only about €1500 compared to multiple thousands of dollars in the US. That included pre and post surgical care and follow up.

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Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)

We asked, prior to moving, about overall crime and specifically the area we were choosing for our move. Petty crimes like purse snatching are rare. Of course larger cities have higher incidents but much lower gun problems since here they are illegal!

Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?

As previously mentioned, walking locally is delightful and we chose not to purchase a car. Within a five minute walk we have bus to train to cities like Dublin and Galway. Car purchase is average cost and we found super rental cars at the nearby airport during off season (Sept. to May) to be, on average, €35 for a week. We purchase an annual deductible insurance policy to save even more and it only costs €50 per year.

Is there high-speed internet access where you live?

We have all the "high tech" services necessary, WIFi and 3g or 4g Internet.

Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?

As an expat, we can only recommend doing as much diligent research as possible. Try to seek advice from others who have done this as nothing helps more than a connection and advice about their trial and errors.

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