Planning to live in another country, even for a short while, is an exciting idea and can be an opportunity to have great conversations with your partner and your advisors about the possibilities. As with all financial decisions, it is important to make sure you and your partner are on the same page.

It has been a goal of mine (maybe dream is a better description) to live abroad for a few months every year, but it’s taken years to get my partner to consider such a venture. But now as we both enter into the phased retirement stage of our lives, we are more willing to consider the pros and cons of such an endeavor. Other factors, like our financial circumstances and the current COVID19 virus, have played a role in shifting our thinking since we are now accustomed to working remotely. For us, that has opened up a lot of possibilities.

There are a number of factors to consider when thinking about living abroad, but the first question we have had to wrestle with is WHY? Why do we have a desire to live abroad for a few months every year? And that’s where we start our planning.

Start with the WHY

At Aspyre Wealth Partners we believe all big decisions should begin with the WHY, and this decision is no different. For us the desire to live abroad for a few months every year was a desire to sample another country’s culture and learn a bit about their language, sample their foods, live in their communities and explore sites unseen.

All big decisions should begin with the WHY, and this decision is no different.

For me, the why has also focused on my desire for language immersion. For my partner, it was a way to give our kids and grandkids a place to rendezvous with us on our dime which can offer our grandkids a lifetime experience they may not otherwise have. By understanding each of our motivations for agreeing to this decision (our WHY), we allowed space to negotiate the parameters of our experience successfully.

Why is a huge question to ask yourself and by clearly defining why you may want to live abroad will help you narrow the focus and simplify the task considerably.  Anyone considering a move abroad is going to have their own WHY to answer.

Now WHERE?

We have been fortunate enough to have travelled extensively over the years.  We have visited places that we loved but knew right away we would not want to return.  The Caribbean is a case in point.  Been there, done that, no interest in going back and no interest in living there.  I am sure you have places you do not want to consider for a variety of reasons.  Perhaps you do not like heat and humidity in the summer or snow and cold temperatures in the winter.  These limit your choices.  If you have traveled a bit already you may have formulated opinions from experience.  For example, we know from our own experiences that we would go back to Ireland, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy any time.

Perhaps you enjoyed the sunsets on a visit to South America or enjoyed the beaches in the Islands of the Caribbean when you cruised there or visited?  Maybe you really enjoyed that beach condo you stayed in on a trip to Mexico or on the Costa Del Sol in Spain?  Perhaps you have always had a dream to live in the British Isles, Europe, or the Far East?  These are good starting points to begin your research. We have spent a day or two in Spain and Portugal but not long enough to have a feeling for what it might be like to be there long-term. Still, they are on the list for further exploration.

If you have not traveled a lot, then I would recommend keeping an open mind.  In either event it is a good idea to write down the things you do not want or the places you have no interest in.  When you begin your research, knowing these constraints will help in your decision-making.

Easy Access

We have been blessed with the good fortune of having close family members live into old age. As we consider this adventure we also have to think about the “what ifs” that could pop up while we are overseas.  That is “what if” while we are traveling one of our family members becomes ill and requires our presence.  How easy will it be to get to the airport, catch an international flight, and get back to them in a reasonable time?

On another vein, though not less important, is how about convenience for in-country travel, intercity travel?  Are there trains, commuter services, local transports where you are thinking of living.  You may not want to own a car where you are going, so consider transportation options once you are there.  For us, that eliminated many choices because we want to have access to an international airport within 1 1/2 hours of where we are staying.

Cost of living and lifestyle

Rental rates, utilities, food, clothing, medical insurance and dental care, transportation and other typical costs of normal living can be quite inexpensive in certain countries while more expensive in others. Large cities typically have higher expenses than towns on the outskirts of major cities.  Most of the countries we are considering have lower costs of living though one or two are a bit higher.  I for one prefer a country with a lower cost of living but not sacrificing the lifestyle we have grown to enjoy.

Other considerations might include access to golf courses, the ocean or private pools, and shopping. Do you enjoy walking urban streets or strolling country lanes? What about outdoor activities, like hiking and biking trails? These are activities that are important to us in varying degrees.

Make sure your research includes how accessible these activities are in countries you want to consider.  We tend to prefer urban areas and want to have access to English speaking expats for socializing along with activities we enjoy.

Our short list and next steps

Having considered these factors and some others that are unique to us we have narrowed down our country choice to 2 countries: Portugal and Ireland.  Our plan is to investigate expat communities there and talk to people who live there.  There are many online travel sites and expat communities that can help us prepare.  If we spend our time researching them now while under virus travel restrictions, we will be well prepared to travel abroad to visit our two countries next year.

There is much still to consider, but for now we’ve answered the WHY and the WHERE. In my next blog,  I’ll begin to outline some of the HOW — beginning with financial planning considerations.

If you have an idea that you may be interested in considering living abroad whether temporarily or permanently then look for future articles from me. 

Stewart S. Koesten, M.S.F.S., CFP®, CIMA®. is Executive Chairman of Aspyre Wealth Partners with more than 35 years of experience as a wealth management advisor. For help with your specific situation contact Stewart Koesten at (913) 345-1881 or visit our website at AspyreWealth.com. We help successful people Master What’s Next® – whatever phase of life they are in. You can follow along by subscribing to our blog above on the right, or reach out and we will forward new information.

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