Things to Keep in Mind When Planning to Retire Abroad

An average of 10,000 Americans retires every single day. With the baby boomer generation moving into retiring age, this number is only expected to increase over the next few years.

Another number that doesn’t seem to stop rising? The cost of living in the United States of America.

In most American cities, the cost of living in a middle-class family comes to around $40,000. The sad fact that so many retirees of recent times are unable to manage their expenses and save money, making this amount unattainable for them.

This is one of the reasons that around 700,000 American retirees have chosen to live out the rest of their days in a foreign country. Another reason is that, unlike the current generation who wish to travel in their youth, the older generation always held dreams of traveling the world and enjoying their lives after retirement when they have minimal responsibilities.

If you are one of the people planning to retire abroad, here are a few things you need to keep in mind before booking that flight ticket.

Different Standard of Living

Depending on the place you choose to live, assuming you are planning to retire somewhere with a lower cost of living, you should also be prepared to give up some of the things that you have grown accustomed to. To name a few, most developing countries still have slow and unreliable Wi-Fi. Social services may take time to get done or not be available at all. And those 24-hour chain stores you’ve been taking for granted are probably rare.

Learning New Languages

Given that Americans are often uni-lingual, chances are that you’ll have to learn a new language to fit in with the locals. Even if some of the people there may speak English, not learning their language will always make you “the American”, and thus, make it harder for you to make friends, be independent, or cope with emergencies.

Culture Shock

Just like if one of the people from another country come to America, they would get a culture shock, it’s quite possible it would be the same for you. Everything from gender and social norms to pollution, transportation, medical facilities, and more could take a bit of getting used to.

Changes in Weather

Southeast Asia is one of the most popular retirement destinations for Americans, and given that the climate in these countries is tropical, meaning melt-your-face hot for half the year and humid and wet for the other half, the whether could seem extreme to you, especially if you used to live in one of the colder cities.

Increase in Taxes

As an American, living abroad doesn’t give you a free pass on taxes. You still have to pay the American government taxes as usual, and if you open foreign bank accounts, buy property, or start a business, you will have to pay taxes to the host country as well. It would be a good idea to consult a financial advisor before making the move.


If you plan to live in a country that you are not a citizen of, you need to obtain a residency visa. While visas are often easier to obtain for US citizens, that doesn’t mean you won’t have to fork over a sizeable amount of money to get the initial visa and for renewals as well per year.

Clean Water

Did you know that more than 25% of the world’s populations lack access to water that is safe to drink? Depending on the country you choose, you may have to regularly sanitize water for drinking even buy it daily for drinking and cleaning needs.


Considering everything we’ve mentioned above, and even more so, the weight of having to leave family and friends behind, which is quite a heavy one, it can difficult to make a home away from home.

Even if you can find cheap flights during off-peak seasons and fly back several times a year, you’ll still be millions of miles away, unable to come back in case of an emergency or “just because you feel like it”. A good idea is to take a couple of months to do a trial run in the country of your choice before packing your bags permanently.