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April 05, 2012


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I've definitely thought about it. Retiring early in one of these countries is much more feasible than retiring early in the US because of the lower costs. At this point, I haven't given it serious consideration because I don't have enough investable assets to do retire even in a lower cost country, but it's on my radar.

We've talked about it (though retirement is a *long* way off still), but the concerns come down to wanting to be close to family and friends (sure, they'd visit, but that's not the same thing as living nearby) and community (how easy would it be to find/build a decent sized group of people with similar interests and passions in a new country?).
The idea still seems to be more geared towards people who aren't very connected within their current community (though the same could be said for those who retire to another place in the US).

I have vacationed in Ecuador twice and Thailand three times. They are both nice and very interesting countries to vacation in. The population of Thailand is primarily Buddhist which is a big plus in my opinion. They are some of the nicest and friendliest people that you would ever want to meet. Climate is the biggest drawdown if you live there year round. This year they had excessive rains which led to massive flooding. A few years ago the Tsunami did a lot of damage killing many people. We always picked the best month of the year which is in our Winter in order to avoid monsoon rains and excessive heat and humidity. Thailand also has first rate hospitals. Another issue is "Language", you will never really fit in if you don't make the effort to speak Thai.

Living in a far off and cheaper country may seem like a good idea when you are young and advenurous but the feelings will probably change as you get up into your 60's, 70's and 80's. I know for sure that after living in Northern California for the last 52 years, and retired since 1992, I could never adjust to the year round climate anywhere in the tropics.

Another very nice place is Bali, a Hindu island in the Moslem country of Indonesia. We have vacationed there 5 or 6 times and made many friends with the locals while we were there. I would choose the area around Ubud if I were to live there. It is the cultural and artistic center of the island and there are gamelan and dance performances almost every evening and wonderful restaurants. Bali is very close to the equator (as is Ecuador) and once again very few months have the temperate climate that I like, which doesn't matter if you pick when you visit, but matters a lot if you live there year round. Healthcare is not anywhere near up to the standard I have become accustomed to so I would never want to retire there. Fortunately I can have a comfortable retirement right where I am.

Ideal climates have less than ideal weather events like hurricanes/typhoons, wet/dry seasons. How quickly do these countries restore utilities and rebuild damaged infrastructure? There are also political upheavals, cheap health care buying horrible health care, "wealthy" foreigners targeted when living in low cost-of-living locales.

I notice most Americans on House Hunters International are shown gated and guarded communities in areas that are very expensive. That makes me wonder who or what the gates and guards are trying to keeping out.

I've traveled to Honduras and Belize on a cruise and I the guides discussed how cheap it was for Americans to retire there and how many had been doing it.

In Belize you could buy a VERY NICE house for $200,000-$250,000 and easily live off of $2,000/month.

The country was pretty dirty (and poor) in parts, so it's something you'd have to get used to.

This is exactly what my wife and I intend to do once the last of the kids are off to college. We're on track for early retirement at 55 and plan to travel the world for 5-10 years -- moving from place to place as our whims suit us. If it's feasible to work remotely, we'll probably continue to work at least 10-20 hours a week while we travel.

We figure that after a decade or so our kids will be settling down and having families of their own so we'll probably return to the US to be closer to them -- unless we can convince them to work abroad. ;)

Let me give you another reason to retire abroad not included here: the food. Food in most of these countries is way more healthy than in the US. The food in these places is much more natural without paying high prices for "Organics". I myself have noticed a ton of weight increase since I moved to the US 6 years ago without any change in my lifestyle.

Another consideration , people. Some countries have nicer people. Good when you are trying to remove yourself from the stress of bad customer service and closed out social communities. I know Philipinnes honor and respect their elderly like no other. Have a personal maid and driver to boot maybe you can withstand the noise, dust, and heat pollution and make a nice life there.

@Lurker Carl
We also vacationed in Costa Rica which is a very beautiful country. One day I asked our tour guide why every window in the country seems to have iron bars in front of it. His reply was that they are for decorative purposes. I suppose the razor wire and broken glass embedded in the tops of most walls are also for decorative purposes. I also noticed that the small hotel where we stayed was patrolled by armed guards. Face it, Americans are considered wealthy and stand out like sore thumbs in most poor countries. We also spoke with a few American students and they told us that having their cars broken in to was a major issue for them. Thanks but no thanks, I like living at the end of a court in a small development of custom homes in the USA in an area with almost no crime and a fantastic climate with no tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis or snow & ice - just a very occasional earthquake. The last one was in 1989 which was 6.9 on the Richter scale and since we live in a single story wood frame home built on undisturbed, flat orchard land well away from any faults our only loss was a bottle of wine that fell out of a cupboard.

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