July 19, 2011

USA: 18 Questions to Find an Ideal Retirement Spot

WASHINGTON DC / US News & World Report / Money / July 18, 2011

By Kathleen Peddicord

The most important step you can take to make sure you retire in the right place is to understand what you want your new retirement life to look like. You need to identify your preferences and priorities. Also, figure out what you are not willing to give up from your current lifestyle and what would make you miserable in your new one.

[See The 10 Fastest-Growing Retirement Spots.]

Only by recognizing the particulars of your personal objectives can you choose an overseas retirement haven that suits you best. If you're considering making this move with a significant other, it’s important that you come to these understandings together. If you and your better half have different ideas about what constitutes a dream life overseas, you want to identify the differences and address them before you make any moves. Here are some questions that will help lead you to a locale that will suit your retirement needs.

Retire Overseas Getting Started Quiz

1. Do you need regular sunshine? If yes, take Ireland off your list.

2. Can you handle heat and humidity? If no, don’t retire to the tropics. You’ll be miserable.

3. Are you older than 75? Your age has a lot to do with your health insurance options worldwide.

[See 12 Overseas Retirement Spots Ranked.]

4. Does your work require reliable Internet service 24 hours a day, seven days a week? If yes, you probably want to stick with city options.

5. Would you mind your road access being temporarily cut off during the rainy season? If yes, then stick with city options or more developed regions.

6. Are you afraid of the dark? That is, will you mind if the electricity goes out from time to time, as it does in much of the developing world?

7. Do you require disabled access? This can limit your choices considerably. The Third World is not very handicapped-accessible.

8. Do you have children or grandchildren you want to see regularly? If yes, then you probably don’t want to retire to Asia. Focus on Central American options.

9. Are you going to be keeping a home or a business in the U.S.? If yes, then limit your search to easy-access destinations.

10. Do you have a health condition that could necessitate a quick return to the U.S.?

11. Do you speak a second language? Or are you unable or unwilling to learn a new language? If yes, think about places where they speak English such as Ireland, New Zealand, or Belize, or an established expat community such as Boquete, Panama, or Ajijic, Mexico, where English is commonly spoken.

12. What’s your favorite thing to do on a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon? If you can’t imagine life without live theater and gallery openings, then remote or Third World living might not be for you.

13. What would you like to see from your bedroom window? The ocean? A mountainside covered with wildflowers? A vineyard? A busy street scene?

14. From where will you derive your income in retirement? This can have important tax implications and some destinations overseas are far more tax-friendly than others.

[See 4 Expenses You Can Cut by Retiring Overseas.]

15. Are you a woman moving alone?

16. Are you moving with children? Moving with children not only means that safety becomes a top concern, but also that you can consider only those destinations with international-standard schooling options, unless you’re interested in home schooling.

17. Are you seriously opposed to spiders, snakes, or insects? Then take rain forest and Caribbean beachfront options off your list.

18. Are you generally adventuresome? Do you like to try new things? If the honest answer to this question is no, then perhaps you want to reconsider the whole retire-overseas idea.

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Copyright © 2011 U.S.News & World Report LP

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