One of the options which many retirees in some western countries have decided on is living overseas. A number of Australians have moved to countries such as Bali, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. For Americans; Ecuador, Panama, Belize and even Spain, are currently favoured.
The reason for people leaving their lifelong homes are in most cases driven by economics. The higher cost of living in Australia is certainly a major factor. With the highest real estate costs in the world, this has become a tipping point for many Australians.
So let’s look at the pros and the cons of retiring overseas.
1. Living in second or third world countries can be a fraction of the cost of living in cities such as Sydney or New York. One couple we know are living in Malaysia. Their 3 bedroom apartment near the ocean cost $130,000 with food and other amenities costing a fraction of that in Australia.
2. You can live an oceanside tropical “paradise” lifestyle which includes domestic help at an incredibly cheap price. Imagine never having to deal with cold or snow.
3. You get to explore and experience other cultures without the rat race of western style city living.
4. If someone has had major family discord, it can be a way to keep things at arms-length by living overseas.
1. Some of these idyllic locales are unfortunately, more prone to civil unrest, including terrorism and insurgencies. The twin Bali bombings, which killed many Australians are a reminder of this problem.
2. Other countries don’t necessarily share the same values as Australians or Americans. Many countries have corruption and bribery as a normal way of doing business. In addition, in many of these countries you may not have the same freedoms that you are used to in your home country.
3. The level of healthcare is often not of the same standard as in your home country. It’s not only the training of doctors that is the issue, but also the level of cleanliness and support staff. In addition, alternate forms of care such as chiropractic, may be in short supply.
A friend of ours had to undergo surgery in an overseas country. While the surgeon was very competent, the postoperative care and rehabilitation services were substandard compared to what we are used to. In contrast, when we were travelling overseas in the USA and Adele needed hip replacement surgery everything was top notch from the doctors to the rehabilitation staff.
4. If you have a family, this is a big move. You may not see your children or grandchildren for extended periods of time. This actually deters many from making the move.
In the final analysis, each person has to decide for themselves what is most appropriate. For some, it is the best decision that they have ever made. For others, it is not long before they decide to return to their home country, because living in “paradise” was not what they thought it would be.