Six tips on retiring outside the US

What you should consider before packing up the U-Haul and moving to Latin America. 

1. Lay out a detailed plan.

Come up with a list of everything you're looking for – from climate to lifestyle to cost of living – and then read and research what countries might best fit your needs. Talk to people about their experiences in living in the countries you've targeted as possible retirement spots.

2. Try it on for size.

Live in the country you've identified for at least several months before making any decision about moving there permanently. Or try a dual retirement – splitting your time between the United States and the other country. "Make a list of what you would like and then find what areas fit your needs, and then rent for at least six months," advises Armand Boissy, a real estate agent in Lake Atitlán, Mexico.

3. Jettison your North American lenses.

Stop comparing your new home with your life in the US. Latin America, for instance, isn't the United States. The pace might be much slower. The roads worse. The services more chaotic. Embrace the new culture.

"It usually takes people about two years to figure out if this is for them," says Kent Davis, a young American expatriate living in Panama.

4. Beware the bad guys.

Crime is a problem in many Central and South American countries. Be cautious about where you travel and when. George Haley, an emerging-economy expert at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, says retirees should check both national and local crime rates before deciding where to settle, and research how stable a country is politically and economically.

5. Be careful about buying land or a home.

Check the ownership laws in the country, independent of what any developer might tell you. Some countries don't allow foreigners to own property. Hire a good lawyer and real estate agent who can vet properties. Jennifer Stevens of International Living magazine says to buy title insurance if possible. If it's not available and you're uncomfortable with risk, then just rent.

Mr. Davis, who founded the real estate company Panama Equity, agrees you should only buy titled property. Scam artists are plentiful. Be wary of anyone overly eager to sell you something.

"I see people who are 65 to 70 years old being swindled into buying homes that will never appreciate in their lifetimes," says Andy Browne, who moved to Costa Rica a few years ago and runs a website, boomersoffshore.com, that offers information to others looking to retire outside the US.

6. Learn the language.

In many places, it isn't essential to speak the native tongue. Bruce Newby, a lawyer from California who lives in Guadalajara, Mexico, says only 20 percent of the Americans there speak Spanish fluently. "They don't need to speak Spanish to come here," he says.

Similarly, Terry Zach, a retired media specialist from San Francisco who lives in the mountain town of Boquete, Panama, says many locals cater to American expats, so he rarely speaks Spanish.

But Joel Moskowitz, a Californian who lives on Roatán, an island off Honduras, echoes the prevailing view among many expats: "In your daily life, you can go a long time without speaking Spanish, but it's much easier if you do."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Six tips on retiring outside the US
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2013/1201/Six-tips-on-retiring-outside-the-US
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe