Expat Living

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
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skime
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Expat Living

Post by skime » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:36 pm

Has anyone here retired outside of the U.S.? If so, what have been the pros and cons of doing so?

Learning about your experiences would be very interesting.

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cinghiale
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Re: Expat Living

Post by cinghiale » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:58 pm

Replies are going to be region specific. For Western Europe:

Pros:
— Food, culture, climate. (At least where I am.)
— More equitable social systems.
— An easy flight back to the US for visits and emergencies.
— At present (though rapidly changing, and not for the good), an attractive currency exchange rate.
— A balanced and gracious way of living that is either non-existent or nearly extinct across the Atlantic.

Cons:
— As a retiree, you have likely spent most of your life in the US. You are unavoidably American. You will miss certain aspects of life in the US.
— The health care system of your target country needs to be carefully explored and fully understood. It isn’t easy.
— Unless you like football/soccer, be prepared to watch sports in isolation. (Suggestion: Learn European football. Really. Get to like it.)
— No matter how self-sufficient you are, you will miss your family, friends, and former colleagues.
— If you are picky about food, you will either spend a fortune on imported familiar foods or have a challenge adapting to the local cuisine.

YMMV. I expect to see a broad range of opinions and perspective voiced on this topic.
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Lancelot
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Re: Expat Living

Post by Lancelot » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:27 pm

I've retired early and have lives outside the US since 2001. I lived in Thailand for 10 years but my epiphany came when my motorcycle was stolen, I had the thieves faces on a security video but the cops laughed at me. They didn't bother to check the crime scene and didn't even want to write a report, but I persisted until they did.

I'm still abroad and don't regret my travels; however, I'm considering setting up an apartment is the US and splitting my time.

Living in Europe, Australia, Canada would give the expat some legal protections but you're pretty much on your own in the third world. I'm not trying to discourage folks from residing abroad because I also love to travel. Just go in with your eyes wide open and realize that there are down sides as well :sharebeer
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VictoriaF
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Re: Expat Living

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:24 pm

cinghiale wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:58 pm
Replies are going to be region specific. For Western Europe:

Pros:
— Food, culture, climate. (At least where I am.)
— More equitable social systems.
— An easy flight back to the US for visits and emergencies.
— At present (though rapidly changing, and not for the good), an attractive currency exchange rate.
— A balanced and gracious way of living that is either non-existent or nearly extinct across the Atlantic.

Cons:
— As a retiree, you have likely spent most of your life in the US. You are unavoidably American. You will miss certain aspects of life in the US.
— The health care system of your target country needs to be carefully explored and fully understood. It isn’t easy.
— Unless you like football/soccer, be prepared to watch sports in isolation. (Suggestion: Learn European football. Really. Get to like it.)
— No matter how self-sufficient you are, you will miss your family, friends, and former colleagues.
— If you are picky about food, you will either spend a fortune on imported familiar foods or have a challenge adapting to the local cuisine.

YMMV. I expect to see a broad range of opinions and perspective voiced on this topic.
Thank you for the summary, cinghiale!

I don't disagree with anything you wrote but want to add my own slant. I am not an expat, but I spent 2 x 2 months in Spain, made several 1 to 4-week trips to the Czech Republic where I have some good friends, and made several short trips to Northern France where I stay with friends. My friends are local nationals, Czechs and French, respectively, i.e., not expatriates.

I agree with all your pros. And I also have noticed the decline in the US dollar. In the spring of 2017, I was getting 25 Czech Kronas for a dollar, in January 2018, it was 20-21 CzK and falling.

As for the cons, I grew up with the European football but I was never interested in it and have never felt that I needed to be interested in it to belong. I was always excited by extreme sports: climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding, and I find that many Europeans are interested in the same things.

I agree that the health care must be understood. General care is frequently so inexpensive that you can easily pay out of pocket. With serious conditions you have to do deep research, but the same would be true in the U.S.

I have not stayed in Europe long enough to miss people in the U.S. You have better experience in this.

I am "picky" about food in that I avoid carbohydrates and prefer to eat a lot of vegetables and protein foods. In the Czech Republic I was buying most of my food local supermarkets. The produce and milk products were of high quality, great taste, and low price. When I visited specialty health stores, I was disappointed by low selection and high prices. But if I lived there, I probably would have found large suburban stores or online options.

Thanks again for sharing your experience. My comments are intended to add to your review rather than argue with any of your points.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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randomizer
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Re: Expat Living

Post by randomizer » Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:29 pm

Escaping the US healthcare system alone seems reason enough to consider it. Not an easy move of course.
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Artful Dodger
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Re: Expat Living

Post by Artful Dodger » Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:04 pm

I'm still working, but a few years ago did some serious research into moving to Costa Rica. International Living (the magazine) sponsors living abroad seminars, which you may want to look into. In our case, I saw the seminar for Costa Rica, but found a free two day seminar that was held monthly in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica (you have to join the ARCR - Assoc of Residents of Costa Rica, but it was ~$100, and included some meals). We also did a two day tour with a retirement specialist, Chris Howard.

If you're looking for a lower cost option, Costa Rica has a lot of positives. It is an easy flight from the U.S. Same time zones. Good exchange rate. They have several long term VISA options available for retirees, as long as you have proof of a modest monthly income stream, or are willing to deposit a chunk of money ($60K~) in a local bank. Lots of expats in San Jose and in the surrounding central valley. Overall good health care system with modern medical facilities. There is a fair amount of medical tourism with Americans flying down for procedures. There is a second major international airport in Liberia close to the beach towns on the Pacific Coast, Tamarindo being one of the largest with lots of American expats. Some friends of ours have a condo in Tamarindo, and are spending 2 to 3 months there at a stretch.

My wife is Italian, and we get to Europe regularly, with most of the time in Italy. She still has relatives, speaks the language, and it is easy for us to feel at home. The downside is the distance and time to get there, and the change in time zones. The exchange rate is always something to consider. We've been back when the dollar was strong against the lira, and now the euro, but there is a lot of fluctuation which really affects how affordable the trip feels. Last fall the euro was $1.12 / $1.14 but now close to $1.25, but we've been there when it was $1.55. In general, when the euro is around $1.20, the cost of living feels comparable to what we experience here. If you locate in a small town, you can find very reasonable living arrangements. I've read where you can buy apartments for $20,000 - $40,000, but often these are in towns with just a few hundred people, so that may not fit your needs.

What I've thought about is the time and cost to get home and see family and friends. Central America would be more convenient than Europe. But, I could see the attraction of spending long stretches in Italy, and taking lots of trips to explore Europe as well.

halfnine
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Re: Expat Living

Post by halfnine » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:02 pm

I am not retired but left the USA for good (AFAIK) in my 30s.

I think cinghiale has made some excellent observations. And, I can certainly attest to being "unavoidably American" even though I've picked up other citizenships/residencies along the way.

One issue that I've personally found that hasn't been mentioned is simply distance and particularly time zones. Maintaining contact with friends/relatives in the USA is increasingly harder over time the greater the time differences.

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Cyclesafe
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Re: Expat Living

Post by Cyclesafe » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:01 am

Lived for multiple years in Japan and Singapore. Lived for multiple months in Croatia, England, Italy, and Russia.

Pro: Gain a world view

Con: Gain a world view. Your home country bound former associates will not be interested in your new-found perspectives as they want you instead to be as myopic and close-minded as they are. They will only want to hear the negatives about your experiences so they can justify their own life choices. If you brought your children with you, they will be strangers upon their return, and if they are forced to repatriate, they will blame you for having made them oddballs. If you repatriate to the same company you will not have the same independence you enjoyed overseas and you will likely fantasize about quitting and joining another company where you can put your X-US skills to work. But if you try to do this you will discover that it is far cheaper for a foreign entity to hire a local person than it is to bring on you as an expatriate from the outside.

Learning: If you want an overseas assignment (and despite what I wrote above, I would not have had it any other way), leave your children at home and retire overseas.
"Plans are useless; planning is indispensable.” - Dwight Eisenhower

AlohaJoe
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Re: Expat Living

Post by AlohaJoe » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:13 am

skime wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:36 pm
Has anyone here retired outside of the U.S.? If so, what have been the pros and cons of doing so?

Learning about your experiences would be very interesting.

There are 194 countries in the world outside the US. They are different from one another; in some cases wildly different. It is probably more useful if you narrow down your question somewhat. Heck even "what is it like to retire in the US" doesn't mean a whole lot. Do you mean retiring in Medicine Park, Oklahoma (population 382) or retiring in Los Angeles, California?

If you've never lived outside of the US you probably shouldn't retire outside of the US.

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Hyperborea
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Re: Expat Living

Post by Hyperborea » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:43 am

Where ever you go, try to live as much like a native as possible. If you try to live the exact same life exactly as you do back home then it's going to be very expensive and very inconvenient. That applies no matter where you are from and where you are staying. It's ok to have some things from home (a favourite sauce, a chocolate bar, in the past that might have been a weekly newspaper, etc.) but too much of that and it makes your life hard.

Don't go to some other country solely for the "escaping US health insurance" reason. You will end up as a bitter old retiree lamenting about why you couldn't live at "home". Go somewhere because it interests you or it's an adventure in itself. It's like retirement - don't retire just to escape your job, retire to something.

Learn the language of the country you live in. Don't live in the American ex-pat bubble. You can visit the bubble but venture beyond it.
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an_asker
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Re: Expat Living

Post by an_asker » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:00 am

Lancelot wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:27 pm
I've retired early and have lives outside the US since 2001. I lived in Thailand for 10 years but my epiphany came when my motorcycle was stolen, I had the thieves faces on a security video but the cops laughed at me. They didn't bother to check the crime scene and didn't even want to write a report, but I persisted until they did.[...]
I thought this happens in USA as well. My friend had his iPhone stolen. He had the locator software (whatever it's called) turned on, and knew exactly where (bad area of town - this is in the Bay Area) it was located. Went to the cops. They said nothing doing. They don't pursue crimes where stuff is stolen, as they had bigger fish to fry (kidnappings, homicides, etc). My foolhardy friend apparently went to that area, confronted the bad guys, and got his phone back. Don't ask me how or why he did it - that's his story and he was sticking to it!!

[edited to add]: I do agree that abroad, there is likely a corruption angle to it as well, but you never know - that might end up happening in the USA as well! :oops:

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VictoriaF
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Re: Expat Living

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:06 am

Hyperborea wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:43 am
Learn the language of the country you live in. Don't live in the American ex-pat bubble. You can visit the bubble but venture beyond it.
I agree. And the laziness to learn the local language is not limited to the Americans. When I was in Karlovy Vary, I've met Russians who permanently live there, own businesses, and are not interested in learning the Czech language. I wanted to take a few lessons while I was in KV, and could not find a school. I visited a couple of Russian stores and asked the owners where they are learning Czech. The responses were that they don't.

Victoria
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Freefun
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Re: Expat Living

Post by Freefun » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:34 pm

I haven't retired overseas (yet) but I probably spent about half my career in expat assignments... South Amer, Europe and Asia. I didn't miss the U.S. as I found many things such an adventure. I may try living overseas again when I retire (this year or next). I'd say learning local languages depended on location. In South Amer and Asia no problem with many others speaking English (I can do some Spanish). I lived in Brussels for years and it was a bit more of a challenge. It's my general experience that locals are happy when you make an effort to learn their language, customs etc., even though you may not be very good.

I may either rent my house out and/or eventually sell it, and rent a small place in the U.S. (as cheap as possible but to maintain residence here). I also want to maintain a U.S. location because I'll retain health insurance in retirement. I've found overseas health care excellent and very cheap - for example I was hospitalized in Malaysia and my bill for 24 hour stay, tons of doctor visits, private room etc., was less than $500 total - and that was a top notch facility on par with U.S. However if I end up with something chronic it may make sense for me to have U.S. care as my insurance may come in handy.
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WhiteMaxima
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Re: Expat Living

Post by WhiteMaxima » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:52 pm

I lived and worked in Germany for a year. of course, German and English is similar. Culture wise, American culture has big influence in Europe. Fast food, movie. I found younger generation all speak English unlike old folks. I really enjoy expat living. Seeing the world is my passion.

totallystudly
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Re: Expat Living

Post by totallystudly » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:40 pm

I lived in South Korea for a year, which was super interesting. I am not quite ready to take the leap, but I am country shopping at the moment. I've been to Germany, going to Switzerland here shortly, and Germany again, been to the Philippines, Ecuador, and planning to hit Panama.

Every place is different and has their own quirks and issues. I have found the biggest things to be learning g the culture and language are most important. Someone mentioned not going to an expat enclave or little America and I agree. I generally try to avoid the touristy areas and prefer to live like an upper class local.

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Re: Expat Living

Post by MindTheGAAP » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:21 am

Artful Dodger wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:04 pm
I'm still working, but a few years ago did some serious research into moving to Costa Rica. International Living (the magazine) sponsors living abroad seminars, which you may want to look into. In our case, I saw the seminar for Costa Rica, but found a free two day seminar that was held monthly in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica (you have to join the ARCR - Assoc of Residents of Costa Rica, but it was ~$100, and included some meals). We also did a two day tour with a retirement specialist, Chris Howard.

If you're looking for a lower cost option, Costa Rica has a lot of positives. It is an easy flight from the U.S. Same time zones. Good exchange rate. They have several long term VISA options available for retirees, as long as you have proof of a modest monthly income stream, or are willing to deposit a chunk of money ($60K~) in a local bank. Lots of expats in San Jose and in the surrounding central valley. Overall good health care system with modern medical facilities. There is a fair amount of medical tourism with Americans flying down for procedures. There is a second major international airport in Liberia close to the beach towns on the Pacific Coast, Tamarindo being one of the largest with lots of American expats. Some friends of ours have a condo in Tamarindo, and are spending 2 to 3 months there at a stretch.

My wife is Italian, and we get to Europe regularly, with most of the time in Italy. She still has relatives, speaks the language, and it is easy for us to feel at home. The downside is the distance and time to get there, and the change in time zones. The exchange rate is always something to consider. We've been back when the dollar was strong against the lira, and now the euro, but there is a lot of fluctuation which really affects how affordable the trip feels. Last fall the euro was $1.12 / $1.14 but now close to $1.25, but we've been there when it was $1.55. In general, when the euro is around $1.20, the cost of living feels comparable to what we experience here. If you locate in a small town, you can find very reasonable living arrangements. I've read where you can buy apartments for $20,000 - $40,000, but often these are in towns with just a few hundred people, so that may not fit your needs.

What I've thought about is the time and cost to get home and see family and friends. Central America would be more convenient than Europe. But, I could see the attraction of spending long stretches in Italy, and taking lots of trips to explore Europe as well.
Agree that Costa Rica could be a good choice based on the information I know about the country. We loved our trip there and discussed the possibility along with pros/cons. We talked to a couple of ex-pats while there and they were saying it is really straight forward if you can drop $100k in an "investment" in the country - think like a coffee farm or the like. You just can't work there but can "volunteer" at your investment entity/business.
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Re: Expat Living

Post by aj76er » Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:02 am

MindTheGAAP wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:21 am
Artful Dodger wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:04 pm
I'm still working, but a few years ago did some serious research into moving to Costa Rica. International Living (the magazine) sponsors living abroad seminars, which you may want to look into. In our case, I saw the seminar for Costa Rica, but found a free two day seminar that was held monthly in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica (you have to join the ARCR - Assoc of Residents of Costa Rica, but it was ~$100, and included some meals). We also did a two day tour with a retirement specialist, Chris Howard.

If you're looking for a lower cost option, Costa Rica has a lot of positives. It is an easy flight from the U.S. Same time zones. Good exchange rate. They have several long term VISA options available for retirees, as long as you have proof of a modest monthly income stream, or are willing to deposit a chunk of money ($60K~) in a local bank. Lots of expats in San Jose and in the surrounding central valley. Overall good health care system with modern medical facilities. There is a fair amount of medical tourism with Americans flying down for procedures. There is a second major international airport in Liberia close to the beach towns on the Pacific Coast, Tamarindo being one of the largest with lots of American expats. Some friends of ours have a condo in Tamarindo, and are spending 2 to 3 months there at a stretch.

My wife is Italian, and we get to Europe regularly, with most of the time in Italy. She still has relatives, speaks the language, and it is easy for us to feel at home. The downside is the distance and time to get there, and the change in time zones. The exchange rate is always something to consider. We've been back when the dollar was strong against the lira, and now the euro, but there is a lot of fluctuation which really affects how affordable the trip feels. Last fall the euro was $1.12 / $1.14 but now close to $1.25, but we've been there when it was $1.55. In general, when the euro is around $1.20, the cost of living feels comparable to what we experience here. If you locate in a small town, you can find very reasonable living arrangements. I've read where you can buy apartments for $20,000 - $40,000, but often these are in towns with just a few hundred people, so that may not fit your needs.

What I've thought about is the time and cost to get home and see family and friends. Central America would be more convenient than Europe. But, I could see the attraction of spending long stretches in Italy, and taking lots of trips to explore Europe as well.
Agree that Costa Rica could be a good choice based on the information I know about the country. We loved our trip there and discussed the possibility along with pros/cons. We talked to a couple of ex-pats while there and they were saying it is really straight forward if you can drop $100k in an "investment" in the country - think like a coffee farm or the like. You just can't work there but can "volunteer" at your investment entity/business.
That is a serious chunk of change! And, honestly, it seems rather risky.
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MindTheGAAP
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Re: Expat Living

Post by MindTheGAAP » Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:05 am

aj76er wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:02 am
MindTheGAAP wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:21 am
Artful Dodger wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:04 pm
I'm still working, but a few years ago did some serious research into moving to Costa Rica. International Living (the magazine) sponsors living abroad seminars, which you may want to look into. In our case, I saw the seminar for Costa Rica, but found a free two day seminar that was held monthly in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica (you have to join the ARCR - Assoc of Residents of Costa Rica, but it was ~$100, and included some meals). We also did a two day tour with a retirement specialist, Chris Howard.

If you're looking for a lower cost option, Costa Rica has a lot of positives. It is an easy flight from the U.S. Same time zones. Good exchange rate. They have several long term VISA options available for retirees, as long as you have proof of a modest monthly income stream, or are willing to deposit a chunk of money ($60K~) in a local bank. Lots of expats in San Jose and in the surrounding central valley. Overall good health care system with modern medical facilities. There is a fair amount of medical tourism with Americans flying down for procedures. There is a second major international airport in Liberia close to the beach towns on the Pacific Coast, Tamarindo being one of the largest with lots of American expats. Some friends of ours have a condo in Tamarindo, and are spending 2 to 3 months there at a stretch.
...
What I've thought about is the time and cost to get home and see family and friends. Central America would be more convenient than Europe. But, I could see the attraction of spending long stretches in Italy, and taking lots of trips to explore Europe as well.
Agree that Costa Rica could be a good choice based on the information I know about the country. We loved our trip there and discussed the possibility along with pros/cons. We talked to a couple of ex-pats while there and they were saying it is really straight forward if you can drop $100k in an "investment" in the country - think like a coffee farm or the like. You just can't work there but can "volunteer" at your investment entity/business.
That is a serious chunk of change! And, honestly, it seems rather risky.
It depends - if you want to buy something like a working coffee farm as a way to employ locals and plan to just use it as a source of passive income with no real need to make it into a cash cow, why not? It would have your primary residence on it, would have coffee plants all around, and gets you living where you want. Seems reasonable to me - especially presuming you're selling a residence in the US to fund it.

The fella that I spoke to most about it did it to buy some vacation rentals and open a bar in the Arenal area (near the volcano, close to Liberia in the NW of the country).
"One of the funny things about the stock market is that every time one person buys, another sells, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

THY4373
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Re: Expat Living

Post by THY4373 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:44 am

Cyclesafe wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:01 am
Learning: If you want an overseas assignment (and despite what I wrote above, I would not have had it any other way), leave your children at home and retire overseas.
I'll respectfully disagree on your kids comment. My father was a US diplomat and I spent a good chunk of my childhood overseas. Reentry to the US was difficult and yeah I was an odd ball for a while but as an adult looking back I wouldn't trade those experiences or the outlook they gave me for anything.

Mr.BB
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Re: Expat Living

Post by Mr.BB » Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:07 am

This is a good site to ask questions and get answers to people who live overseas.
https://bestplacesintheworldtoretire.com/
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in_reality
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Re: Expat Living

Post by in_reality » Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:08 am

THY4373 wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:44 am
Cyclesafe wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:01 am
Learning: If you want an overseas assignment (and despite what I wrote above, I would not have had it any other way), leave your children at home and retire overseas.
I'll respectfully disagree on your kids comment. My father was a US diplomat and I spent a good chunk of my childhood overseas. Reentry to the US was difficult and yeah I was an odd ball for a while but as an adult looking back I wouldn't trade those experiences or the outlook they gave me for anything.
I envy US diplomats and their children particularly in respect to health care. It's not a typical situation for most expats though.

If I could live my life over, the thing I would never do again is raise a child overseas. OK, mine turned out to have a disability which ... long story short ... was a huge, huge struggle to get the same care that was normal for everyone else.

I'd give you seven figures to take the decision back -or just have the memory erased :sharebeer.

Then again, with the safety of American schools, maybe it was a good thing. Can't believe I am sending mine to the US now...
Last edited by in_reality on Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

THY4373
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Re: Expat Living

Post by THY4373 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:15 am

Yeah I was a normal healthy kid but I can see where a disability would be a big issue. But being a diplomat (or a kid of one) cuts both ways. I spent three years in Soviet Union where the KGB targeted the US embassy with microwave radiation. The long term impact of this is not clear. They also put chemical trackers (it would get on our hands and then they could find who or what had been touched by us while out and about in Moscow) on our cars parked outside the embassy at the time. Again neither government had been particularly forthcoming about the details or impact. On the other hand it sure was an interesting place to live at the height of the cold war.

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Cyclesafe
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Re: Expat Living

Post by Cyclesafe » Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:21 am

THY4373 wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:15 am
Yeah I was a normal healthy kid but I can see where a disability would be a big issue. But being a diplomat (or a kid of one) cuts both ways. I spent three years in Soviet Union where the KGB targeted the US embassy with microwave radiation. The long term impact of this is not clear. They also put chemical trackers (it would get on our hands and then they could find who or what had been touched by us while out and about in Moscow) on our cars parked outside the embassy at the time. Again neither government had been particularly forthcoming about the details or impact. On the other hand it sure was an interesting place to live at the height of the cold war.
Wow. That must have been something.

My comments relate more to a more typical situation where at best the child is at an international school where there is an emphasis on at least seeming to be multicultural or at worst (best?) isolated in some local school immersed in the local culture and language pretending not to be too good at English so their classmates don't bully them too much.
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Artful Dodger
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Re: Expat Living

Post by Artful Dodger » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:03 am

THY4373 wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:44 am
Cyclesafe wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:01 am
Learning: If you want an overseas assignment (and despite what I wrote above, I would not have had it any other way), leave your children at home and retire overseas.
I'll respectfully disagree on your kids comment. My father was a US diplomat and I spent a good chunk of my childhood overseas. Reentry to the US was difficult and yeah I was an odd ball for a while but as an adult looking back I wouldn't trade those experiences or the outlook they gave me for anything.
I don't get this comment either. My cousins had an extended stay (5 years in UK and Belgium), as well as a niece (UK for 2 years, Singapore for 3 years), both with US companies, and both would tell you it was a great experience for their kids. My wife was raised in Italy until age 11, then moved with parents to the US. She had to learn English and all new customs, so much more of a challenge, and she is well adjusted. (She's actually better adjusted and more emotionally stable than her husband, who's lived here all his life. :? )

Lynette
Posts: 1897
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:47 am

Re: Expat Living

Post by Lynette » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:32 am

For me a major issue is dealing with taxation, different laws of inheritance etc.etc. I was born overseas and though I have been in the US for nearly 40 years, I still have some financial interests such as a small pension there. What a pain. A sibling overseas and one in the US are my heirs. I will let my heirs deal with this. What happens if you buy property overseas? What are the inheritance, taxation laws. Remember that as an US citizen, you are taxed on your worldwide income. I have tried to limit my financial dealings with my former country but every now and then, I have to deal with some or other issue.

jminv
Posts: 1018
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:58 pm

Re: Expat Living

Post by jminv » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:12 pm

I have lived outside the US for ten years now in a number of different countries. It gives you a new perspective on the world but it's difficult to talk to people back at 'home' about it given their preconceived notions about what different places are like.

#1 Irritant is dealing with the US taxman. The US is almost unique (we are in good company with Eritrea) in taxing overseas income no matter where you live. The first bit is tax free assuming you stay out of the USA 330 days a year, nice, but the next part isn't and I have to report it and pay taxes on it if the local tax rate is less than the US tax rate.

My least favorite things about the least pleasant places I've lived:
1. Corruption: I've lived in a few very bad places and the sheer greediness of every official, even at the lowest levels is appalling. Checkpoints everywhere for that purpose. Inspectors from all sorts of government agencies want to pay you a visit and on and on. Locals in general see you as a $ sign.
2. Safety: Having to worry about interactions with the local police and army, particularly when having to stay late at work. Locals often pay bribes in alcohol or drugs at checkpoints so you ended dealing with crazier and crazier soldiers as the night wore on. Police were a little better. Had one drugged soldier at a checkpoint tell me to respect him because he was from the X country local army, give him the equivalent of $2.50, or he would kill me. This was while he was pointing an AK-47 at me. Needless to say, I paid. Lots of more minor stories, hassles with the police, authorities, etc.
3. Everyone wanting something from you.
4. Everything being a challenge, no matter how small and I mean everything.
5. Loneliness, wasn't married at the time. Good to have a partner for hardship places like these.
6. Language: You have to learn at least some to function. Make the effort.

I treat the negatives as positives by and large since I thrived there so I can thrive just about anywhere else.

My favorite things about the least pleasant places I've lived.
1. Freedom to do what you want they way you want to do it, more or less.
2. Small local community of expats. Interesting people there for all types of different reasons. Good to hear their stories.
3. Money. I am not a charity worker. Assuming high risk and unpleasant conditions nets a very high salary. Since the companies I worked for covered living and travel/vacation expenses, I saved a lot of money.
4. Local populations are very entrepeneurial because they have to be to survive. It's interesting to see. People can be happy with a tiny fraction of what the average American has.
5. Gained a real first hand perspective on what it's like to live and work in some of the worst places in the world.

I've also lived in several developed countries. I'm living in one now.

Positives
1. A functional, lower cost health care system for all citizens. The standard of care is generally better than what you would receive in the USA.
2. Much better public transport. I rarely use it, but it's nice to see.
3. Much better work/life balance.

Negatives
1. Can end up with all English speaking friends, ie, people from similar backgrounds rather than with the 'locals'.
2. Rules: This is actually very difficult. When you grow up in the USA, you know how things work very well. It takes a very long time to re-learn how it works in a different country.
3. Dealing with government officialdom in their language: Unlike the USA, most countries don't go to the trouble to provide interpreters, forms in your language, etc at government offices. Can be a little difficult to hold a conversation about something you need from them in a language where you're not a native speaker but can function in.

Last of all, don't be that American that takes up a phony sounding local accent after a short time! It's irritating, people notice, and comment accordingly.

ncbill
Posts: 629
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Location: Western NC

Re: Expat Living

Post by ncbill » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:56 pm

MindTheGAAP wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:21 am
Artful Dodger wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:04 pm
I'm still working, but a few years ago did some serious research into moving to Costa Rica. International Living (the magazine) sponsors living abroad seminars, which you may want to look into. In our case, I saw the seminar for Costa Rica, but found a free two day seminar that was held monthly in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica (you have to join the ARCR - Assoc of Residents of Costa Rica, but it was ~$100, and included some meals). We also did a two day tour with a retirement specialist, Chris Howard.

If you're looking for a lower cost option, Costa Rica has a lot of positives. It is an easy flight from the U.S. Same time zones. Good exchange rate. They have several long term VISA options available for retirees, as long as you have proof of a modest monthly income stream, or are willing to deposit a chunk of money ($60K~) in a local bank. Lots of expats in San Jose and in the surrounding central valley. Overall good health care system with modern medical facilities. There is a fair amount of medical tourism with Americans flying down for procedures. There is a second major international airport in Liberia close to the beach towns on the Pacific Coast, Tamarindo being one of the largest with lots of American expats. Some friends of ours have a condo in Tamarindo, and are spending 2 to 3 months there at a stretch.

My wife is Italian, and we get to Europe regularly, with most of the time in Italy. She still has relatives, speaks the language, and it is easy for us to feel at home. The downside is the distance and time to get there, and the change in time zones. The exchange rate is always something to consider. We've been back when the dollar was strong against the lira, and now the euro, but there is a lot of fluctuation which really affects how affordable the trip feels. Last fall the euro was $1.12 / $1.14 but now close to $1.25, but we've been there when it was $1.55. In general, when the euro is around $1.20, the cost of living feels comparable to what we experience here. If you locate in a small town, you can find very reasonable living arrangements. I've read where you can buy apartments for $20,000 - $40,000, but often these are in towns with just a few hundred people, so that may not fit your needs.

What I've thought about is the time and cost to get home and see family and friends. Central America would be more convenient than Europe. But, I could see the attraction of spending long stretches in Italy, and taking lots of trips to explore Europe as well.
Agree that Costa Rica could be a good choice based on the information I know about the country. We loved our trip there and discussed the possibility along with pros/cons. We talked to a couple of ex-pats while there and they were saying it is really straight forward if you can drop $100k in an "investment" in the country - think like a coffee farm or the like. You just can't work there but can "volunteer" at your investment entity/business.
Heck of a lot cheaper to pick Mexico instead.

Getting a non-working resident visa only requires proof of income, no 6 figure investments.

texasdiver
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Location: Vancouver WA

Re: Expat Living

Post by texasdiver » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:11 pm

My wife and I talk about retiring in Chile or perhaps having a second residence there. She is Chilean and our kids are all dual citizens so I'm the only one in the family who doesn't actually hold a second Chilean passport. We have a few more years to go before having to make the decision. It would be easy to do as we have a lot of extended family down there and my wife's parents own maybe a dozen different apartments scattered around Santiago plus they have property on the coast.

In the end I doubt we will do much more than the occasional extended visit. It is my wife who puts the brakes the idea on more than me. I don't think she really wants to go back to her circle of high school and college friends who are all still super social and gossipy and all still meet for tea every week while they complain about their 2nd or 3rd husbands and whatever stupid stuff their kids have done. She is from a pretty small upper class world down there and can't seem to escape it when we go back. The other reason, of course, is our kids. My wife has no interest in being a continent away from her 3 daughters who are most certainly Americans by now and unlikely in the extreme to ever settle in Chile, at least at this point in their lives.

It's funny that I'm the one who is more gung ho about retiring in Chile than she is. I have ideas of buying a 4x4 and exploring Patagonia and the Andes, doing lots of fly fishing, and settling into a life of wine, cheese, seafood, empanadas, and pleasant Mediterranean climate. When my wife thinks about living in Chile she thinks about Santiago traffic, endless obligatory Sunday dinners with family. taking her mother on endless shopping errands, and having to socialize again with all her ditzy socialite circle of friends that one cannot escape. She is not in a hurry to go back.

sabhen
Posts: 197
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Re: Expat Living

Post by sabhen » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:45 pm

We lived and worked in Germany for close to 7 years. It was a challenge in the beginning. We learned the language. My son was in an international school. Perfect location for exploring countries in Europe and beyond. Joined Toastmasters club to make some good friends and learn the language. Public transport was great. Cities are wonderful. Full of life. Can't wait to go back. Food is cheap and good quality. Thanks to Aldi and Lidl.

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VictoriaF
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Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: Expat Living

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:31 pm

THY4373 wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:15 am
Yeah I was a normal healthy kid but I can see where a disability would be a big issue. But being a diplomat (or a kid of one) cuts both ways. I spent three years in Soviet Union where the KGB targeted the US embassy with microwave radiation.
I am curious: how would you compare the quality of education in the Soviet schools and American schools.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

StealthRabbit
Posts: 497
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Re: Expat Living

Post by StealthRabbit » Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:43 pm

randomizer wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:29 pm
Escaping the US healthcare system alone seems reason enough to consider it. Not an easy move of course.
This (US 'inaccessible / unaffordable' HC) is a necessary issue that will keep many living / moving Overseas.
(pre age 65 retirees have few other choices,)
https://patientsbeyondborders.com/

but for expat during working yrs.. Our kids came with (and we homeschooled cuz we traveled everyday (for work))

Fortunately our 'home school' kids did not have to re-acclimate to USA EDU, they just went directly to college.

mnnice
Posts: 449
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:48 pm

Re: Expat Living

Post by mnnice » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:28 pm

ncbill wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:56 pm
MindTheGAAP wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:21 am
Artful Dodger wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:04 pm
I'm still working, but a few years ago did some serious research into moving to Costa Rica. International Living (the magazine) sponsors living abroad seminars, which you may want to look into. In our case, I saw the seminar for Costa Rica, but found a free two day seminar that was held monthly in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica (you have to join the ARCR - Assoc of Residents of Costa Rica, but it was ~$100, and included some meals). We also did a two day tour with a retirement specialist, Chris Howard.

If you're looking for a lower cost option, Costa Rica has a lot of positives. It is an easy flight from the U.S. Same time zones. Good exchange rate. They have several long term VISA options available for retirees, as long as you have proof of a modest monthly income stream, or are willing to deposit a chunk of money ($60K~) in a local bank. Lots of expats in San Jose and in the surrounding central valley. Overall good health care system with modern medical facilities. There is a fair amount of medical tourism with Americans flying down for procedures. There is a second major international airport in Liberia close to the beach towns on the Pacific Coast, Tamarindo being one of the largest with lots of American expats. Some friends of ours have a condo in Tamarindo, and are spending 2 to 3 months there at a stretch.

My wife is Italian, and we get to Europe regularly, with most of the time in Italy. She still has relatives, speaks the language, and it is easy for us to feel at home. The downside is the distance and time to get there, and the change in time zones. The exchange rate is always something to consider. We've been back when the dollar was strong against the lira, and now the euro, but there is a lot of fluctuation which really affects how affordable the trip feels. Last fall the euro was $1.12 / $1.14 but now close to $1.25, but we've been there when it was $1.55. In general, when the euro is around $1.20, the cost of living feels comparable to what we experience here. If you locate in a small town, you can find very reasonable living arrangements. I've read where you can buy apartments for $20,000 - $40,000, but often these are in towns with just a few hundred people, so that may not fit your needs.

What I've thought about is the time and cost to get home and see family and friends. Central America would be more convenient than Europe. But, I could see the attraction of spending long stretches in Italy, and taking lots of trips to explore Europe as well.
Agree that Costa Rica could be a good choice based on the information I know about the country. We loved our trip there and discussed the possibility along with pros/cons. We talked to a couple of ex-pats while there and they were saying it is really straight forward if you can drop $100k in an "investment" in the country - think like a coffee farm or the like. You just can't work there but can "volunteer" at your investment entity/business.
Heck of a lot cheaper to pick Mexico instead.

Getting a non-working resident visa only requires proof of income, no 6 figure investments.
There are several routes to legal residency. Only one requires investment. When I was in Tamarindo last month most of the vendors at the Feria/farmer’s market were Ex-pats (mostly Americans). It seemed like how some people made their Costa Rican dream pencil out. Buy a country place raise fruit and veggies to make a little cash. Being a trustafarian sort couldn’t hurt either.

THY4373
Posts: 1196
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:17 pm

Re: Expat Living

Post by THY4373 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:37 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:31 pm
THY4373 wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:15 am
Yeah I was a normal healthy kid but I can see where a disability would be a big issue. But being a diplomat (or a kid of one) cuts both ways. I spent three years in Soviet Union where the KGB targeted the US embassy with microwave radiation.
I am curious: how would you compare the quality of education in the Soviet schools and American schools.

Victoria
Unfortunately I cannot really comment on that because I attended the Anglo American school while I was there. It was pretty much where most kids from Anglosphere countries in Moscow went to school.

Diogenes
Posts: 602
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:58 pm

Re: Expat Living

Post by Diogenes » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:29 am

skime wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:36 pm
Has anyone here retired outside of the U.S.? If so, what have been the pros and cons of doing so?

Learning about your experiences would be very interesting.
I encourage you to read expat forums for practical information about places you may be interested in. I've been an expat for a dozen years and early on discovered the dramatic difference between visiting places as a tourist and actually living there. Someone visiting for a week, or month or two, simply doesn't have the perspective you are looking for. Rely on people that actually live as expats, on the local economy.

Also, be wary of generalizations about the quality of life, quality of healthcare, etc. Don't make the change because you think the grass is always greener. If you're older (or even not so old) make sure you maintain a good medevac policy, you may be somewhere where healthcare is not good for what ails you. Medicare will not cover you overseas, so have your own medical insurance also.

That said, I highly recommend the lifestyle if you have a proper mindset. Engage the local culture and don't judge things by American standards (for better or worse). Be prepared for new frustrations, as well as new adventures. A frustration can be a reason to laugh after all. A word of caution, it may be difficult to go back after some years. Although I am an unapologetic American, I now find certain things bothersome when I return. Mainly the consumerism. But be aware that much of the world holds America in high regard, as I do also. I consider myself an ambassador for the USA every day in small ways and I enjoy that.

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peterinjapan
Posts: 527
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Location: Japan!

Re: Expat Living

Post by peterinjapan » Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:02 am

Interesting thread. I am an American living abroad, in Japan, not retired but working towards that goal. I'll say that you should read book, study a lot, and maybe take short two week trips to a bunch of countries. My own goal is to live for 3-5 years in Spain or Portugal, then maybe 10 in Malaysia with my Japanese wife, then ???

HongKonger
Posts: 1079
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:35 am
Location: Deep in the Balkans

Re: Expat Living

Post by HongKonger » Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:47 am

20 years an expat - Italy, Hong Kong, and retired to Bulgaria.

Some people are global citizens and some people are just not. You need to try it out I think in order to find out. If you get an urge to visit 'home' within the first year, it's probably not for you.

All the focus that people from the US have on corruption and safety is laughable to most everyone from outside the US as we all think your gun situation is just super crazy scary.

If you are an expat, you will always be viewed as an expat. Integrating and living like a native is nonsense. You can be welcomed and accepted by a community, you can speak the language, you can shop where everyone else shops, eat what they eat etc etc but you will always be a foreigner.

Moving to live abroad for the first time purely because it is cheaper is not, IMHO, the best basis for becoming an expat. I know plenty who have done this and honestly, they either drink themselves to death or do absolutely nothing apart from shop, eat and watch TV.

ncbill
Posts: 629
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Western NC

Re: Expat Living

Post by ncbill » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:04 am

mnnice wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:28 pm
ncbill wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:56 pm
MindTheGAAP wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:21 am
Artful Dodger wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:04 pm
I'm still working, but a few years ago did some serious research into moving to Costa Rica. International Living (the magazine) sponsors living abroad seminars, which you may want to look into. In our case, I saw the seminar for Costa Rica, but found a free two day seminar that was held monthly in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica (you have to join the ARCR - Assoc of Residents of Costa Rica, but it was ~$100, and included some meals). We also did a two day tour with a retirement specialist, Chris Howard.

If you're looking for a lower cost option, Costa Rica has a lot of positives. It is an easy flight from the U.S. Same time zones. Good exchange rate. They have several long term VISA options available for retirees, as long as you have proof of a modest monthly income stream, or are willing to deposit a chunk of money ($60K~) in a local bank. Lots of expats in San Jose and in the surrounding central valley. Overall good health care system with modern medical facilities. There is a fair amount of medical tourism with Americans flying down for procedures. There is a second major international airport in Liberia close to the beach towns on the Pacific Coast, Tamarindo being one of the largest with lots of American expats. Some friends of ours have a condo in Tamarindo, and are spending 2 to 3 months there at a stretch.

My wife is Italian, and we get to Europe regularly, with most of the time in Italy. She still has relatives, speaks the language, and it is easy for us to feel at home. The downside is the distance and time to get there, and the change in time zones. The exchange rate is always something to consider. We've been back when the dollar was strong against the lira, and now the euro, but there is a lot of fluctuation which really affects how affordable the trip feels. Last fall the euro was $1.12 / $1.14 but now close to $1.25, but we've been there when it was $1.55. In general, when the euro is around $1.20, the cost of living feels comparable to what we experience here. If you locate in a small town, you can find very reasonable living arrangements. I've read where you can buy apartments for $20,000 - $40,000, but often these are in towns with just a few hundred people, so that may not fit your needs.

What I've thought about is the time and cost to get home and see family and friends. Central America would be more convenient than Europe. But, I could see the attraction of spending long stretches in Italy, and taking lots of trips to explore Europe as well.
Agree that Costa Rica could be a good choice based on the information I know about the country. We loved our trip there and discussed the possibility along with pros/cons. We talked to a couple of ex-pats while there and they were saying it is really straight forward if you can drop $100k in an "investment" in the country - think like a coffee farm or the like. You just can't work there but can "volunteer" at your investment entity/business.
Heck of a lot cheaper to pick Mexico instead.

Getting a non-working resident visa only requires proof of income, no 6 figure investments.
There are several routes to legal residency. Only one requires investment. When I was in Tamarindo last month most of the vendors at the Feria/farmer’s market were Ex-pats (mostly Americans). It seemed like how some people made their Costa Rican dream pencil out. Buy a country place raise fruit and veggies to make a little cash. Being a trustafarian sort couldn’t hurt either.
The expats I've met in Mexico are often living on nothing more than SS retirement & whatever Canada calls their equivalent.

South of the border is popular mainly because it's cheap. IMHO you will find few trustafarians down there.

halfnine
Posts: 1005
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: Expat Living

Post by halfnine » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:31 am

If you plan on raising your children abroad and even more so if in a non-developed country, then I highly recommend you read
Third Culture Kids which details the opportunites and challenges your children will face. It's also a good read for those who already spent their childhood abroad.

mnnice
Posts: 449
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:48 pm

Re: Expat Living

Post by mnnice » Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:08 am

ncbill wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:04 am
mnnice wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:28 pm
ncbill wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:56 pm
MindTheGAAP wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:21 am
Artful Dodger wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:04 pm
I'm still working, but a few years ago did some serious research into moving to Costa Rica. International Living (the magazine) sponsors living abroad seminars, which you may want to look into. In our case, I saw the seminar for Costa Rica, but found a free two day seminar that was held monthly in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica (you have to join the ARCR - Assoc of Residents of Costa Rica, but it was ~$100, and included some meals). We also did a two day tour with a retirement specialist, Chris Howard.

If you're looking for a lower cost option, Costa Rica has a lot of positives. It is an easy flight from the U.S. Same time zones. Good exchange rate. They have several long term VISA options available for retirees, as long as you have proof of a modest monthly income stream, or are willing to deposit a chunk of money ($60K~) in a local bank. Lots of expats in San Jose and in the surrounding central valley. Overall good health care system with modern medical facilities. There is a fair amount of medical tourism with Americans flying down for procedures. There is a second major international airport in Liberia close to the beach towns on the Pacific Coast, Tamarindo being one of the largest with lots of American expats. Some friends of ours have a condo in Tamarindo, and are spending 2 to 3 months there at a stretch.

My wife is Italian, and we get to Europe regularly, with most of the time in Italy. She still has relatives, speaks the language, and it is easy for us to feel at home. The downside is the distance and time to get there, and the change in time zones. The exchange rate is always something to consider. We've been back when the dollar was strong against the lira, and now the euro, but there is a lot of fluctuation which really affects how affordable the trip feels. Last fall the euro was $1.12 / $1.14 but now close to $1.25, but we've been there when it was $1.55. In general, when the euro is around $1.20, the cost of living feels comparable to what we experience here. If you locate in a small town, you can find very reasonable living arrangements. I've read where you can buy apartments for $20,000 - $40,000, but often these are in towns with just a few hundred people, so that may not fit your needs.

What I've thought about is the time and cost to get home and see family and friends. Central America would be more convenient than Europe. But, I could see the attraction of spending long stretches in Italy, and taking lots of trips to explore Europe as well.
Agree that Costa Rica could be a good choice based on the information I know about the country. We loved our trip there and discussed the possibility along with pros/cons. We talked to a couple of ex-pats while there and they were saying it is really straight forward if you can drop $100k in an "investment" in the country - think like a coffee farm or the like. You just can't work there but can "volunteer" at your investment entity/business.
Heck of a lot cheaper to pick Mexico instead.

Getting a non-working resident visa only requires proof of income, no 6 figure investments.
There are several routes to legal residency. Only one requires investment. When I was in Tamarindo last month most of the vendors at the Feria/farmer’s market were Ex-pats (mostly Americans). It seemed like how some people made their Costa Rican dream pencil out. Buy a country place raise fruit and veggies to make a little cash. Being a trustafarian sort couldn’t hurt either.
The expats I've met in Mexico are often living on nothing more than SS retirement & whatever Canada calls their equivalent.

South of the border is popular mainly because it's cheap. IMHO you will find few trustafarians down there.
If you have annunitzed income you only need $1000 US per month for a couple for that visa which is lower than Mexico IIRC. The veggie farmers were mostly younger 30s and 40s and while they had a access to capital either inherited or self-generated they were not collecting Social Security.

HongKonger
Posts: 1079
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:35 am
Location: Deep in the Balkans

Re: Expat Living

Post by HongKonger » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:29 pm

jminv wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:12 pm
Last of all, don't be that American that takes up a phony sounding local accent after a short time! It's irritating, people notice, and comment accordingly.
Lol. And please turn the volume down when you talk. It's irritating, people notice, and comment accordingly.

2tall4economy
Posts: 421
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:55 am
Location: Global

Re: Expat Living

Post by 2tall4economy » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:47 pm

Cyclesafe wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:01 am
Lived for multiple years in Japan and Singapore. Lived for multiple months in Croatia, England, Italy, and Russia.

Pro: Gain a world view

Con: Gain a world view. Your home country bound former associates will not be interested in your new-found perspectives as they want you instead to be as myopic and close-minded as they are. They will only want to hear the negatives about your experiences so they can justify their own life choices. If you brought your children with you, they will be strangers upon their return, and if they are forced to repatriate, they will blame you for having made them oddballs. If you repatriate to the same company you will not have the same independence you enjoyed overseas and you will likely fantasize about quitting and joining another company where you can put your X-US skills to work. But if you try to do this you will discover that it is far cheaper for a foreign entity to hire a local person than it is to bring on you as an expatriate from the outside.

Learning: If you want an overseas assignment (and despite what I wrote above, I would not have had it any other way), leave your children at home and retire overseas.
Very true and generally agree though I found my friends more understanding and interested in life overseas than just looking for negatives, though I can totally see that if I was in my parents generation vs mine.

I expanded my mind and grew as a person over my 5 year stint and built irreplaceable memories. But I’m glad I’m home and that my kids will grow up American.

Visiting a country for a few weeks or months on vacation or working out of a hotel is nothing like living there full time and having a job you commute to so be biased towards people you talk to that have lived and worked.

Like some others, I would recommend you find a way to visit broadly for extended trips (2-4 months at a time) and rent a little cottage or something. Then go back to the places you like best.

And for gods sake don’t be one of those d-bags that talk your ear off about how worldly they are and how great of a living abroad experience they have when they’ve only been to Western Europe and Australia (hands down the least far away from “American” you can get and still call it different).

Go to Brazil. Russia. China. India. Thailand. Dubai. Indonesia. Turkey. South Africa. Etc.
You can do anything you want in life. The rub is that there are consequences.

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Lancelot
Posts: 247
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Location: Philippines

Re: Expat Living

Post by Lancelot » Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:59 pm

an_asker wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:00 am
Lancelot wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:27 pm
I've retired early and have lives outside the US since 2001. I lived in Thailand for 10 years but my epiphany came when my motorcycle was stolen, I had the thieves faces on a security video but the cops laughed at me. They didn't bother to check the crime scene and didn't even want to write a report, but I persisted until they did.[...]
I thought this happens in USA as well. My friend had his iPhone stolen. He had the locator software (whatever it's called) turned on, and knew exactly where (bad area of town - this is in the Bay Area) it was located. Went to the cops. They said nothing doing. They don't pursue crimes where stuff is stolen, as they had bigger fish to fry (kidnappings, homicides, etc). My foolhardy friend apparently went to that area, confronted the bad guys, and got his phone back. Don't ask me how or why he did it - that's his story and he was sticking to it!!

[edited to add]: I do agree that abroad, there is likely a corruption angle to it as well, but you never know - that might end up happening in the USA as well! :oops:
Of course. Corruption -greed- is a universal human trait. The US has blatant examples of corruption: Tammany Hall, $400 dollar toilet seats from Defense procurement, etc. However the US has evolved some what so now the average guy has some recourse. The average expat has little recourse when it hit the fan abroad :)
No Where for Very Long...

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eye.surgeon
Posts: 456
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:19 pm
Location: California

Re: Expat Living

Post by eye.surgeon » Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:19 pm

cinghiale wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:58 pm
Replies are going to be region specific. For Western Europe:

Pros:
— Food, culture, climate. (At least where I am.)
— More equitable social systems.
— An easy flight back to the US for visits and emergencies.
— At present (though rapidly changing, and not for the good), an attractive currency exchange rate.
— A balanced and gracious way of living that is either non-existent or nearly extinct across the Atlantic.

Cons:
— As a retiree, you have likely spent most of your life in the US. You are unavoidably American. You will miss certain aspects of life in the US.
— The health care system of your target country needs to be carefully explored and fully understood. It isn’t easy.
— Unless you like football/soccer, be prepared to watch sports in isolation. (Suggestion: Learn European football. Really. Get to like it.)
— No matter how self-sufficient you are, you will miss your family, friends, and former colleagues.
— If you are picky about food, you will either spend a fortune on imported familiar foods or have a challenge adapting to the local cuisine.

YMMV. I expect to see a broad range of opinions and perspective voiced on this topic.
I don't think many retire to Western Europe to save money.
"I would rather be certain of a good return than hopeful of a great one" | Warren Buffett

FireProof
Posts: 731
Joined: Thu May 05, 2011 12:15 pm

Re: Expat Living

Post by FireProof » Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:26 pm

eye.surgeon wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:19 pm
cinghiale wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:58 pm
Replies are going to be region specific. For Western Europe:

Pros:
— Food, culture, climate. (At least where I am.)
— More equitable social systems.
— An easy flight back to the US for visits and emergencies.
— At present (though rapidly changing, and not for the good), an attractive currency exchange rate.
— A balanced and gracious way of living that is either non-existent or nearly extinct across the Atlantic.

Cons:
— As a retiree, you have likely spent most of your life in the US. You are unavoidably American. You will miss certain aspects of life in the US.
— The health care system of your target country needs to be carefully explored and fully understood. It isn’t easy.
— Unless you like football/soccer, be prepared to watch sports in isolation. (Suggestion: Learn European football. Really. Get to like it.)
— No matter how self-sufficient you are, you will miss your family, friends, and former colleagues.
— If you are picky about food, you will either spend a fortune on imported familiar foods or have a challenge adapting to the local cuisine.

YMMV. I expect to see a broad range of opinions and perspective voiced on this topic.
I don't think many retire to Western Europe to save money.
Spain, the top retirement destination, is much cheaper than the US. And, including healthcare, any of them is a good savings.

FireProof
Posts: 731
Joined: Thu May 05, 2011 12:15 pm

Re: Expat Living

Post by FireProof » Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:30 pm

jminv wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:12 pm
Last of all, don't be that American that takes up a phony sounding local accent after a short time! It's irritating, people notice, and comment accordingly.
What do you mean? Pretending to speak with a foreign accent in English? Haven't heard that - what DOES annoy me is the Americans who speak a foreign language with no effort to change their awful accent. Some actually speak it quite well in terms of vocabulary and grammar, yet speak in a cringe-worthy accent after living in a country for many years.

jminv
Posts: 1018
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:58 pm

Re: Expat Living

Post by jminv » Sat Feb 24, 2018 8:37 pm

FireProof wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:30 pm
jminv wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:12 pm
Last of all, don't be that American that takes up a phony sounding local accent after a short time! It's irritating, people notice, and comment accordingly.
What do you mean? Pretending to speak with a foreign accent in English? Haven't heard that - what DOES annoy me is the Americans who speak a foreign language with no effort to change their awful accent. Some actually speak it quite well in terms of vocabulary and grammar, yet speak in a cringe-worthy accent after living in a country for many years.
In this case, I am talking about if you live in an english speaking country and put on a fake English, Irish, Australian, South African, etc accent it's irritating. I've heard it from a few people I've worked with in those countries and it's some sort of attention seeking behavior.

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MichaelRpdx
Posts: 352
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Location: Portland, Oregon
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Re: Expat Living

Post by MichaelRpdx » Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:21 pm

FireProof wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:26 pm
Spain, the top retirement destination, is much cheaper than the US. And, including healthcare, any of them is a good savings.
And Portugal is even cheaper.

For those interested in armchair exploring and searching:
The Earth Awaits by default allows you to specify and search on world region(s) of interest, budget, lifestyle (from very lean to opulent) and tolerable rates of crime, pollution, and dwelling size. It will then return a list of cities that meet your criteria.

Additional search criteria include quality of life threshold, racial discrimination, attitudes toward homosexuality, internet access speeds, temperature range, primary language, and "freedom score."

If nothing else, it's a hoot to explore.
Be Appropriate && Follow Your Curiosity

Tatupu
Posts: 32
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2007 1:17 pm

Re: Expat Living

Post by Tatupu » Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:38 pm

THY4373 wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:44 am
Cyclesafe wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:01 am
Learning: If you want an overseas assignment (and despite what I wrote above, I would not have had it any other way), leave your children at home and retire overseas.
I'll respectfully disagree on your kids comment. My father was a US diplomat and I spent a good chunk of my childhood overseas. Reentry to the US was difficult and yeah I was an odd ball for a while but as an adult looking back I wouldn't trade those experiences or the outlook they gave me for anything.
This is good to hear. As a US diplomat who has lived primarily overseas for the last decade, I do consider my son to be a bit of a guinea pig and sometimes wonder whether we are doing him right or wrong. He enjoys the travel and experiences and moving to a new country every few years but I do wonder the impact that all of the transitions will have on him long term, not to mention reintegrating back to the U.S. Seems like it works out for a lot of kids in this boat but not all of them. I guess we won't know how it all turns out until he is in his 20s ...

That said, I much prefer that he attend international schools overseas especially as he gets older. I have many nieces and nephews living in good school districts back home, and the magnitude of the issues they must contend with these days is frightening. Amazing how many kids in the U.S. have serious anxiety issues. I haven't seen the same issues in the countries where I have lived though teens in every country have their own challenges to contend with. Given the option of having him in an excellent international school overseas or a public high school back home in a good school district, it's a no-brainer for me that we stay overseas.

StealthRabbit
Posts: 497
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:25 am

Re: Expat Living

Post by StealthRabbit » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:33 am

Tatupu wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:38 pm
THY4373 wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:44 am
Cyclesafe wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:01 am
Learning: If you want an overseas assignment (and despite what I wrote above, I would not have had it any other way), leave your children at home and retire overseas.
I'll respectfully disagree on your kids comment. My father was a US diplomat and I spent a good chunk of my childhood overseas. Reentry to the US was difficult and yeah I was an odd ball for a while but as an adult looking back I wouldn't trade those experiences or the outlook they gave me for anything.
This is good to hear. As a US diplomat who has lived primarily overseas for the last decade, I do consider my son to be a bit of a guinea pig and sometimes wonder whether we are doing him right or wrong. .... Given the option of having him in an excellent international school overseas or a public high school back home in a good school district, it's a no-brainer for me that we stay overseas.
2x :sharebeer
While we were not diplomats (we were just grunt worker bees homeschooling, living and working with the locals) in 4 foreign countries (yes... WE were the minority!)
as an adult looking back (on our now near age 40 kids...) I wouldn't trade those experiences or the outlook they gave me (& THEM) for anything.

Retire early, retire often (while your kids are HOME is a pretty valuable time to RETIRE!), What an investment !:moneybag:
Internationally? Better yet!

The MOST vocal naysayers are those who would never consider it. Most people were appalled that we would 'subject' our kids to living in a foreign culture :shock: .. From my eyes... the USA 'culture' was not too appealing, educational, or beneficial . YMMV

wrongfunds
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Re: Expat Living

Post by wrongfunds » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:12 am

I was shocked to see that average apartment in Panama City, Panama, the so called retirement heaven; was going for minimum of $350K+ Heck even the billboard plastered on the side of the highway away from the downtown were advertising the prices starting at "only $650K. I suspect that boat has sailed :-)

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