Pros and Cons of Retiring Abroad (Part Two)
In part one of our look at the pros and cons of spending your golden years overseas, we mentioned some of the major high points of retiring on foreign shores – from enjoying better weather and a lower cost of living to enjoying time to yourself in an environment which challenges you to pick up new skills.
In part two we’ll be looking at the low points of giving up work and your home country at the same time.
Moving isn’t relaxing
No matter how much we love our jobs, the vast majority of us look forward to retirement – a time where you can finally make hobbies priorities and do all the things you weren’t able to pack into your busy schedule before.
In retirement we’re supposed to swap the stress of the workaday world for peace, tranquillity and relaxation. So, as many studies have shown that moving is one of the most stressful things we go through in life, deciding to put yourself through the mammoth upheaval of immigrating does seem like the last thing you should be doing in the autumn of your life, particularly as a move overseas necessitates navigating even more red tape than usual.
That being said, the reason why moving is so stressful is often because everything has to be dealt with outside of working hours, which adds greatly to everyday concerns and makes the process feel rushed and more difficult than it has to be. To that end, moving after you’ve retired and have the time to handle all the stages at your leisure might not be as stressful as you’d think…
Immigrating isn’t cheap
There’s a lot more to moving abroad then packing a bag and buying a ticket. Once you’ve organised visas, accommodation, healthcare, transporting furniture, putting pets through quarantine and utilities, there are every day expenses which have to be met, foreign currency transfers to handle and a different cost of living to acclimatise to.
Given how much nations like France, Spain and Portugal have been affected by the global economic crisis it’s essential to do all the sums long before you make plans to move. After you’ve compiled a thorough list of all your expenditures get someone you trust to look through it and ensure that you haven’t missed out on anything.
You also need to check that your pension contributions will be accepted in your destination country and work out the most cost effective means of transferring your pension.
But if you’re sure you can afford to immigrate, living abroad can actually leave you better off long term. You may find the cost of living lower in the nation you move to and depending on the climate, you may find you have to fork out less on things like heating.
The grass isn’t always greener
As with so many things, the idea of living abroad is often more alluring then the reality. Novelties you enjoyed during a holiday can become annoyances when you have to deal with them full time.
To save yourself from disappointment and to make sure you really are doing the right thing, look into the pros and cons of the area you intend to move to, be honest with yourself about what life will really be like and talk to as many expats living in the area as you can so you’re able to build up an accurate picture about what you can expect.
If possible, visit the area you intend to move to prior to moving there and try to go at different times of the year so you can see how the area is affected by changes in weather.
Living abroad can be lonely
Many expats miss the invisible support that having family and friends close by provides, and in retirement you have more time on your hands to notice what’s missing. Spending your retirement abroad means you’ll miss out on the day to day interaction with your nearest and dearest you could otherwise have enjoyed. Furthermore, although people may promise to visit for holidays, in reality personal and financial constraints might mean you go far longer without seeing your loved ones than you ever expected.
To tackle this con from the off, sit down with your family in your initial planning stages and have a frank discussion about how often you’ll be able to see each other and plan strategies for how you’ll cope with special events like Christmas and birthdays.
If you can, draw up a kind of schedule for contacting each other via Skype, email, text etc to make it easier to stay in touch.