With all the depressing news about retirement (reference “Retirement 2.0“), we’re left to wonder if there are any good choices for life after work. But if you’re up for an adventure, consider this attractive alternative: retiring overseas.
Enter Barry Golson, author of Gringos in Paradise, which chronicles the experiences of Barry and wife Thia enjoying life on a small fishing island in Mexico, off the Pacific Coast. While Golson jokes that he doesn’t live there full-time because he’s “too busy being unretired,” he explains the birth of Retirement Without Borders: “People loved [Gringos] the book, loved the story, and wanted to know ‘how to’.”
Heralded by NBC’s Today Show Travel Editor, Peter Greenberg, Retirement Without Borders “gives [you] the compelling reasons, as well as the pitfalls and pleasures, of why the low-cost, high-quality expatriate life is one of the last great – and rewarding — adventures.”
Golson chose 10 countries to cover in great detail – Mexico, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, France, Italy, Croatia, Spain and Portugal (Drooling yet? I know I am!) - and he worked with what he calls “expatriate collaborators” to provide his readers with the most expert, on-the-ground information in each of these fabulous locations.
Now, while retiring in Portugal may sound romantic, it’s a bit more involved than simply renewing your passport. Moving to another country can be a complicated process, but Golson gives solid advice on how to do it successfully. And you don’t have to be independently wealthy to live this dream, says Golson. The book equips readers with all the necessary, practical information to make this expedition possible at any income level.
Before he delves into the specifics on the countries, Golson informs the reader of all the ins and outs: reality checks on whether you’re doing this for the right reasons, doing your homework on real estate, knowing how much money you’d need to live, etc. He even includes report cards, grading on categories such as crime, culture and health care.
In terms of real estate, Golson recommends that you rent before you buy, or even rent instead of buying. “Many people go into it with stars in their eyes and buy a home right away, which is foolish. They leave their brains at the border,”says Golson.
It’s important to weigh the pros and cons too: on the plus side, Latin America’s cost of living and Europe’s quality of living stand out. Even though the dollar is weak in Europe, there are real opportunities to find affordable housing (homes in Spain now cost half of what they were priced a month ago). Golson asserts that retiring abroad is an adventure that is preferable to simply going on “cruise control” after that last day on the job. And perhaps the most enticing positive, particularly for retirees in Minnesota or Alaska – who doesn’t want to retire in a beautiful location with warm weather?
Which begs the question: are there any cons to this arrangement? You’ve done the homework, secured the finances, and found the location that suits you: what could deter you? Well for one thing, if you’re a parent/grandparent/great grandparent, you’d be away from the kids/grandkids/great grandkids (but on the plus side, it might be more alluring to visit Grandma and Grandpa in France rather than Michigan). Another big one: red tape/bureaucracy. In Germany, Switzerland and the US, says Golson, “The trains run on time.” However, in Latin America, France, Italy, “inefficiency is the norm.” In these countries, who share what Golson describes as “an elastic sense of time,” you might find yourself signing and re-signing documents.
I enjoyed chatting with Barry Golson and I’ve really enjoyed perusing his book (and would recommend it highly if you’re entertaining thoughts of retiring abroad). It is well-written, well-researched, practical and pleasing. For more information on Barry or the book, visit http://www.retirementwithoutborders.com/.
Living abroad sounds great to me so, when can I retire?
What are your plans for retirement? Do any of them include extended travel abroad? Tell us about it here.