We have our house on the market and of course our friends regularly ask us where we are going to move to. Our throwaway response is “not sure, maybe the south of France”. Actually, that isn’t very likely: although if we did find ourselves suddenly homeless, travel would be our immediate choice of temporary location/s.
Retirement is often a time when people choose to move to a new location, so if you could retire anywhere in the World, where would it be? Or perhaps you are not retiring but rather relocating for business purposes; if that is the case, then much of the information below will also apply to that scenario
It sounds exotic to head off and live in another country, either full time or part time. For many retirees this is a serious option, indeed for others it has become an economic imperative. Some find the cost of living in Australia to be a barrier to a comfortable retirement and we have met couples happily living in Bali for that very reason. For others, the lure of a different lifestyle, perhaps the opportunity to learn another language or to study, is a real drawcard.
It does seem a glamorous option and no doubt the thought of living in a location where you can afford to have a cleaner, a cook, a driver etc. is very attractive. We too have flirted with that idea, be it the South of France or Bali (we are frequenters of real estate windows wherever we may be). However, we have only flirted with the idea and we always come back to our checklist for choosing location (you can find the checklist here)
In talking to the expats we met in Bali it became clear to us that their lifestyle is only wonderful when they have fully explored the positives and the negatives and have made excellent preparations for moving away from their home country.
There are indeed pitfalls for the unprepared and we have heard of folks who have moved overseas only to find that they are then not able to access the pension (even though financially eligible). Then there are issues related to health services and insurance. The list goes on.
If you are seriously thinking about an overseas location for any reason you must do your research. Towards that end, we recommend you read “Sell up, pack up & take off” or as the young woman in the book store described it ‘Pack up and piss off’. You can order this book online from Booktopia (we receive a commission but you pay no extra).
This is a well-researched book which looks at a variety of locations in Asia and Europe and outlines considerations for each location. Like many books of its kind, parts of it will have been out of date by the time of publication, but it is still a valuable read. Using this book as a guide can help you avoid an expensive and possibly life threatening mistake. Having read the book, you will still need to do your own research but at least you will have an idea where to begin.
Some of the questions it raises are related to:
• Visa requirements for your chosen location – how long will a visa last, how can you extend it, what are the costs and limitations?
• Can you purchase property in your chosen location, can you lease or are you limited to renting? What are the estate planning issues if you do choose to purchase?
• What are the likely living costs?
• What is the level of health care available, how can you insure for health care, what if you need to travel internationally for adequate health care?
• What are the tax implications – both in your expat location and your home country?
• Can I operate a business in my chosen location?
• How safe is the location?
• How will I find community there, will there be other compatible expats or will I be happy to become part of the local community, will the locals accept me?
• What language and cultural barriers might I face?
• How will an international location impact your home country benefits, for example in Australia your Medicare, private health insurance, government or other pension?
• If you have an Australian SMSF (self-managed superannuation fund) how will it be affected?
• Will you live there full time or only part time?
There is a myriad of other questions to be considered and I raise those not to put you off but to ensure you make the best possible decision and can fully enjoy your chosen location. After all that is the idea isn’t it?
Have you considered living overseas? Have you already tried it? What would encourage you to do so? What would discourage you?