How to Plan Your Finances for Retirement Abroad

Many people approaching retirement age sometimes start to think about the idea of taking early retirement and getting away from their everyday life – with a move abroad becoming a more appealing option due to difference in weather and the cost of living that can be attained – cheaper countries will help people to use their retirement savings a lot more frugally.

If this is something that you would like to do then there are a few things that you should consider… and in fact many more things will need to be prepared if you want to retire abroad.  For example, should you find a small part-time job to keep you busy, and how are you going to integrate in terms of language and culture?

Look Into Taxation and Property Issues

When it comes to finances, there are some important considerations for retirement abroad.  For example, if you are planning on retirement abroad in low-cost countries such as Mexico, North Cyprus or Belize then your retirement money is always going to go much further. You will also find that tax on property will often be a lot less in many foreign countries – as well as property prices being a lot more affordable.  With reduced food and general living costs as well, it’s no surprise that so many people are opting to travel to hotter climes.

What are the Options Regarding Health Insurance?

If you are planning on retiring in a country that is not as well developed as your current residence, then there are some considerations that you should bear in mind.  For example, what provisions will you make for health care insurance and coverage?  Make sure you investigate this fully, as on occasions you might be surprised.  Using North Cyprus as an example again, the price of medical treatment is so low that the actual excess you would pay on an insurance policy is usually a lot more than what you would be paying anyway.  Of course, this is an exception to the rule, but it just goes to show that you need to fully research the country you are planning on retiring in.

Find Out the True Cost of Living Abroad

Also make sure that you look at what the true cost of living is when it comes to more everyday items.  Before you make any firm commitments to retire abroad, sign-up to a few online forums and ask questions.  If you are planning on moving to Switzerland there is an ex-pats website called the English Swiss Forum which is where English-speaking people can share experiences and help each other with advice.  A quick Google search should tell you if there is an equivalent forum in your country of choice.

Will You Be Able to Integrate Socially?

It’s not just about the financial implications of retiring abroad though.  You also need to consider any social considerations.  You will be far away from friends and family and those things that you take for granted which could make it very difficult to settle in a foreign country. This sense of movement is completely natural and will be known to a lesser degree or higher by all those who move abroad – but it’s a feeling that can be overcome by making an effort to meet new friends and establish new links with people – which means that sociable types who find it easy to make friends and meet a lot easier to retire abroad.

Make Sure You Have Money to Cover an Exit Plan

One final piece of advice: if you are planning on retirement abroad then make sure that you have an exit strategy planned.  Be sure to put some money aside that can bring you back home if things to do not go completely to plan.  There could be nothing worse than being in retirement and getting stuck abroad with no means to get home.  Obviously this is a last resort, but not everybody who moves abroad for their retirement will have a positive experience – so make sure that you are prepared for all eventualities.

Guest Post: Thanks to the Wall Street Journal Subscription Website

This guest post was written by the team at Wall Street Subscriptions.  They specialize in offering discounts and deals on many different financial planning publications including the MarketWatch Retirement Weekly newsletter, and of course a Wall Street Journal Subscription.  For more information you can visit their website on; www.wallstreetsubscriptions.com.

An Expat Survival Guide

Emigration is unquestionably daunting, but we reap so many rewards from living in another country, from understanding alternative cultures to making new friends. If this is your first time, try starting somewhere your family & friends can easily reach, like Madrid or Barcelona; flights arrive at these cities from across the UK all year round, & are usually cheap enough to make frequent weekends with your loved ones affordable, even on a low budget.

Of course, you might be itching to put as much distance between yourself & your in-laws as possible, in which case you can head somewhere more remote. Either way, here are our top tips for getting to grips with ex-pat life:

1) Bother to learn the language

While many Spanish people do speak English,living in Spain & not speaking Spanish is like watching black & white TV in a digital HDTV showroom. You can get by with smiles, gestures a few ‘por favor’s & ‘gracias’. But you will only be getting by. Not only is learning Spanish (& even some Catalan or Basque) respectful to your hosts; it will open a thousand doors, from conversing with local people in mountain villages to bargaining for your fish at the market.

2) Things are different – not wrong!

Constant criticism & negative comparisons with home are offensive & will make you unhappy. If you find yourself repeatedly using the phrases “In England…” or “They….”, take some time out & think about why you’re here & what you originally wanted. The road to homesickness & bitter ex-pat-dom lies in the presumption that your way is right.

3) Embrace the culture with gusto, from the start

At home or abroad, it’s easy to get tied up in daily life & put off the museums, theatres & sights that define a country. If you’ve always wanted to go to a bullfight, don’t wait until your last month in Spain to do so. If you love Spanish food, don’t waste time eating pasta at home; do a local cookery course & try every local restaurant.

4) You’re not alone

Modern technology has changed ex-pat life dramatically in the past 10 years. Skype, email, Twitter & Facebook make it easy & cheap to keep in touch with folks back home, while internet forums let you reach out & get advice. Whether you’re job-hunting, transferring money or buying land, forums are a font of other ex-pats, who’ve “been there” & are willing to share the experience. If technology is not your thing, there’s almost always a bar where fellow foreigners congregate. While you may not want to be there every night, it is sometimes a relief to hang out with people who speak English & know what Only Fools & Horses is!

5) Coming home can be harder than going away.

While you’re gone, your friends will continue their lives – they’ll get married, have children, get divorced… When (if) you return, they will be happy to see you, but they won’t want to see all your pictures or hear endless stories about Spain. That is hard in itself, but it’s more than that: living abroad will change you. For many people, it’s the start of an irresistible nomadic life; but don’t exclude the possibility that you’ll realise your home town actually contains everything you want.

Expats in Spain – The Dream

Graham and his wife Joyce moved from the UK to Spain, little realizing at the time all the hurdles they would have to contend with. Hopefully their experiences will help others to avoid some of the pitfalls in taking such a major step, and provide some useful information about the do’s and don’ts in joining the millions of Expats in Spain.

graham - expat in spainjoyce - expat in spai

The Dream

Hola, and welcome to our site. Hopefully this will provide some helpful information to those of you who might be thinking about becoming expats in Spain at some point in time.

When my wife said that she wanted to go and live in Spain I was more than a little apprehensive. What is it that is so inviting about a country which is almost twice the size of the U.K, has a smaller population, where they drive on the “wrong” side of the road, and where most Brits cannot speak their language? One big plus was the fact that as both the UK and Spain are in the EU it meant far fewer formalities in moving from one to the other. And upon checking web sites about moving to Spain it all seemed so easy – the sun – the lower cost of living – the beaches – laid back pace of life – and we went ahead with it. We took the plunge and lived there for over six years, joining many other British expats in Spain.

spanish dancersOf course like countless other Brits we had been on holiday to Spain and its islands a number of times, and always appreciated the culture of Spain. This time though we felt like escaping the vagaries of the British weather permanently. Instead of moving to a place where Brits typically go when on holiday in Spain – such as along the well-known coasts – we decided to go somewhere quieter, not too close to the Costas. Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and the last thing we wanted was to live where the lager-lout culture of Britain was present. So, we sold our bungalow, said our goodbyes to our family and friends, and joined the million or so of other expats in Spain.

For those of you who may be considering emigrating you can do all the reading in the world about your new country, visit all the official websites going, but there is nothing like living the experience for yourself. We thought we had prepared as well as we possibly could by researching such subjects as the Spanish health system, driving in Spain, buying property etc. And, to a certain extent you can prepare yourself, but some things you`ll only learn once you get over there.

Nearly Didn’t Make It

The first six months were pretty rough, due to broken promises from builders, vague assurances of assistance that did not come about, not being able to speak the language, and the shock to the system as regards the massive change in procedures and lifestyle. Our dream was fast becoming a nightmare. By this time of course we were totally committed. If not we might have been ‘nearly expats’ abroad.

After a while though we got used to the different ways of doing things, our dream came true, and we settled down as happy British expats in Spain.

It has to be borne in mind that Spain is still facing an economic crisis. The government has taken strict measures to reverse the financial downturn, including a halving of the deficit, government investment increases, and measures to help the poor. But, there is still a long way to go before Spain gets back to the boom times of a few years ago. Meanwhile, there is a lot of public unrest about some of the measures introduced which have affected pensions, jobs and wages.

According to figures from Eurostat there are currently 390,880 officially registered Brits living in Spain. This is almost 3 times as many Brits who settle in France.

In some areas Dutch expats in Spain can be found in larger groups too. The majority of expats in Spain tend to live around the Costas from Andalucia in the south up through the east of the country. But, since the British started to come out to Spain to live back in the 1980′s, a larger proportion have been buying property away from the coasts. Some have integrated well with the locals in smaller towns and villages

Where we lived started off as Rojales, then, as a new development, it was regarded as being in Benimar. About 20 minutes drive from the sea it was in the ideal location for us.

But, not everyone wants to live close to the sea. Many expats prefer life in the larger cities with all the visitor attractions that go with them. Madrid and Barcelona are very popular destinations in fact.