5 things to consider before retiring abroad

Contributed by Cigna Global, 06 February, 2017

Whether your move abroad is spurred on by family reasons, the lure of a warmer climate – or simply the opportunity of experiencing a change of pace in a new culture, preparing for retirement abroad can certainly be exciting. At the same time, it raises lots of things to think about, – especially when it comes to ensuring your health, happiness and financial security.

International health insurance experts, Cigna Global know a thing or two about the challenges faced by retirees when moving to foreign shores. Here, Cigna takes a closer look at the areas retirees should focus on before the big move.

Income: will you have the standard of living you desire?

Firstly, there are the essentials to consider: food, utilities, property costs, transport, healthcare costs, and local taxes. Beyond this, you will also want to factor in an element of 'discretionary spending' – i.e. money to cover those little luxuries that you've been looking forward to as part of retirement, such as entertaining friends, excursions, and perhaps even a new hobby.

So is the lifestyle you desire going to be achievable in the location you are considering? Research is the only way to find out. As a starting point, it's a good idea to draw up a list of the areas you envisage spending money on in a typical week or month, before finding out what your typical spend is likely to be in each of those areas (based on prices in your destination county).

Next, it's a matter of determining whether your income is going to be sufficient to meet your likely requirements. Bear in mind that if your retirement income derives from investments in one country and you are based in another, changes in the currency exchange rate means that your spending power can fluctuate significantly. Seek specialist independent financial advice well in advance of your move to ensure your financial portfolio is suited to your plans.

Property: how easy is it to access the market?

Browsing the internet for property listings can give you a broad idea of the market – but in terms of matters to look at before you buy – it's just the beginning. Independent advice is recommended, especially when it comes to understanding the costs and liabilities that come with property ownership in your chosen country.

Property markets around the world vary significantly in terms of ease of access for buyers from abroad. You might find, for instance, that as a recent arrival, you are faced with a stamp duty surcharge, or perhaps a process of approval to go through before making the purchase. It's also vital to look at the implications of local inheritance laws both in terms of tax planning and in passing on the proceeds of the property sale to your loved ones.

Language: the value of getting a head start

Even if you intend to be based in a well-established expat community, a working knowledge of the language can make life so much easier, whether you are filling in a form for a rail pass or trying to arrange an appointment with the GP.

Diving in at the deep end and getting involved in day-to-day interactions is usually the most effective way to grasp a new language. At the same time though, it's worth doing what you can to get a head start before you get there. Language classes are often the best way forward – not least because they often give you the ability to tailor your learning to your specific needs.

Building a support network: start before you get there

For many, the presence of a well-established expat community is precisely what draws retirees to a particular location. Of course, not everyone who moves abroad intends to be part of such a community – but, at the very least, it can be useful to have that network there if you need it.

It's certainly worth finding out what to expect before you get there. For instance, are there any online resident forums for the location you are considering? As well as helping to give you a 'feel' for what the community is like, these can also help you with your wider research, such as the price of groceries and what to expect in terms of entertainment options.

Healthcare: ensure you are protected with IPMI

The quality of healthcare provision available tends to be one of the deciding factors when weighing up the pros and cons of different retirement options. But even if a particular country enjoys the reputation of having a strong public healthcare system, this doesn't necessarily mean that all your needs are going to be met automatically.

Within a country, the quality of provision can often vary, depending on where you happen to be based – and the same applies to waiting times. Making sense of the rules can be tough, too – especially if there's a language barrier.

This isn't an area where you can afford to take chances, which helps to explain why so many retirees find the reassurance and practical help they are looking for through International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI). The flexible nature of the cover available from Cigna Global means that it's ideal for covering the gaps in existing coverage – especially in areas such as repatriation in the event of incapacity and coverage for pre-existing conditions.

To find out more about the benefits of IPMI and for a quote, visit Cigna Global today.

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