Here is How to Retire Overseas.
My overseas life came in stages starting in 2007. So basically, I am describing my own experience and adding a few new steps that make how to retire overseas go more smoothly.
Stage One: Preparing to Leave
In this Stage One of How to Retire Overseas, I discuss how to prepare to leave your home country, but only for a temporary 6-month exploratory visit. The truth is, some of you will not like living outside your home country. So, I am suggesting that you do a temporary exploratory visit before making permanent changes in your life. So, these Stage One suggested steps are more temporary in nature. That means if you don’t like living overseas, you can come back and undo these changes. Here are the steps I suggest you take to get ready for a 6-month exploratory visit.
Your Home: If you own a home, it is not a good idea to leave it vacant for 6 months. You need to put someone in there. You could let family or friends live there for free or for a great discount. But doing business with friends or family doesn’t always turn out great. Plus, they may not be interested in giving up their existing residence if they have to leave again in 6 months. Instead, I suggest you rent the place out to someone for 6 months. Short term leases like this go faster and at a higher price if they are furnished. Hire a manager for about 8% of the rents to watch over the property and call a plumber if something leaks in the middle of the night. When you are sleeping in another country, you will rest better knowing there is a property manager there to answer the phone and handle any problems. If overseas living is not for you, you still have your home to come back to. Start on this one or two months before leaving.
Your Phone: If you have a cell phone and a landline, port those numbers over to Google Voice. I explain how to do that in my free eBook, “How I Fired My Boss and Traveled The World for 13 Years.” (Link Provided). Download that now, don’t wait until the last minute. Follow the directions in the free eBook. Start on this 2 months before you leave. While you are overseas, you will be able to make and receive calls without paying international calling or roaming rates if you just follow all the instructions in my free eBook (Link Provided). Get your phone unlocked two months before you leave. If your phone is unlocked, you can get a new local SIM card and data plan for your phone in each country so you are always only paying local data rates (often 5 times cheaper). Make sure your phone has the ability to act as a hot spot (wifi router) in case your Internet is spotty as you travel. (Link Provided).
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Your Snail Mail: This is one is a little tricky. It is best to do this one 3 months before you leave. Then you can monitor what snail mail you get and make sure nothing has fallen through the cracks. First, you need to create an online account for everyone in the world that still sends you snail mail. Then select the “Paperless” feature so they send you emails instead of snail mail. Cancel all magazines that don’t offer paperless only. Now watch what comes in the mail for 3 months before you leave. You are trying to stop all snail mail. Finally, 10 days before you leave, place a mail forwarding to a friend’s house with the postal service. (Link Provided). If anything comes in the snail mail to your friend, tell them to take a picture of the letter and email it to you. Then contact that person and tell them you receive email only going forward. No exceptions.
Set Up Social Security: Follow the directions on this link to set up your social security for overseas living. (Link Provided) I haven’t done this yet because I am still only 59 years old. But this official social security link explains the requirements and limitations. Do this about 3 months before leaving.
Your Car: I sold my car because my first overseas contract was for 24 months. If you let a car sit for 24 months without driving it, you are likely to have some expensive repairs when you return. But if you are only leaving for 6 months, you could leave your car at a friend’s house and have them start the car every week or so. If you leave your car with a friend, don’t assume they will never drive it. So keep it insured while you are gone. I sold mine partly to save the insurance. If you decide to sell, run your add on Autotrader about six weeks before you leave. Just ride Uber if you sell the car before your leave.
Your Loved Ones: If you set your phones up as I described above, tell them they can call your same old phone number anytime they want to talk. Explain that you will receive their calls on your computer, tablet, and phone like you do now. Tell them to leave a message if you don’t answer. If you don’t answer, it probably means you are sleeping in another time zone. Tell them not to mail you anything while you are gone Just take a picture and email it to you. Do this three weeks before you leave. That way they can do test calls to you before you leave.
Your Travel Plans: Start researching your most likely retire cheap in paradise locations about 6 months before you leave. In stage two, you will do a 6-month exploratory visit overseas. Your goal is to pick the places you are most likely to love to live overseas. A 6-month exploratory visit may sound like a long time. But the time will fly by quickly. Defending on your budget and the regions of the world you are most interested in, you will need to pick the right order to traverse the regions to save on time, airfare and reduce any doubling back. In addition to finding your favorite places for exploration, you will be verifying living costs and livability factors during your 6-month exploratory visit. You might find our travel cheap reports, regional travel reports, and world travel reports helpful in this planning phase. You need to make a little plan. Stan.
Your Luggage: I suggest that you learn how to pack your luggage. You need to reduce to one checked bag and one carry on bag. Although international flights often allow more luggage, the regional flights will charge way more in fees if you go over 20 KG checked (44 pounds) or over 7kg (15 pounds) backpack or carryon. That is the maximum you should carry. If you can get down to only the carryon, your life will be even better and easier during your exploratory visit.
Your Banking: I suggest you leave your money in your home country bank and just pull cash from ATMs as needed. Open a Charles Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® account 2 months before you leave the country. I failed to do this and my old debit card was charging about $7 USD in fees every time I pulled money out at foreign ATMs. It is almost impossible to open from outside the country so don’t wait to do this. It is saving me about $30 USD per month in banking fees.
Your First Overseas Stop: If you use our planning resources (VagabondBuddha.com) you will probably know at least 10 places you want to investigate during your 6-Month exploratory visit. All 10 could be in the same country or they might be spread across several countries in the same regions, or several countries in different regions of the world. I suggest you only book the first leg of your journey. Keep your schedule open so you can stay longer when you love a place or leave sooner when you don’t. If you plan everything in advance, you will feel locked in. Make sure to verify whether or not you need a visa and do that at least a month before you leave, if you can. As an American, I can go to most countries without getting a visa before I fly. But I still check about a month before I fly. Laws change all the time. So don’t assume anything.
Stage Two: 6 Month Exploratory Visit
In Stage Two of How to Retire Overseas, I describe the purpose of the exploratory visit. The only way you will know if you really want to live somewhere, and whether or not you can afford to live there in a joyful way on your budget, is by taking an exploratory visit. You must verify the costs of living, things to do, and see what it feels like to be there in person.
Slow Travel During Your Exploratory Visit: What is slow traveling? It means you go at your own pace across a country. You travel more often on land. You stay more often in places that are furnished apartments with kitchens. That way you can shop in stores for food, learn the prices of everything, verify access to foods you will need, and the itemized cost of living. You stay as long as you need to understand the place, and then you move on to your next place of interest. You stay in each place for a few weeks so you really know what it feels like. You travel between spots of interest using trains and buses when possible, so you get a feel for the landscape. Slow traveling gives you a feel for the places you can not get buy living as a tourist. Plus, slow travel is much, much, cheaper. You are trying to live like a local so you can verify that you can live there year-round on your projected budget.
Visit Adjacent Countries: When you are on your exploratory visit, I suggest you visit some adjacent countries within the same region of the world. You may even visit countries in other regions of the world. For example, you might think Thailand is your favorite place in the world. But you may find that you can only stay for 60 days with one tourist visa extension. Why not take a train or flight south to Malaysia for a month or two and see how that feels? After a month there, take a flight to Vietnam and visit a few of my favorites: Hoi An, Nha Trang, Da Nang, and Dalat. There are cheap transfers between all of these cities. Then cross over to Cambodia for a month to see Kampot, Battambang, and Siem Reap. For the last month or so, you could visit Bali Indonesia or the Philippines. With that experience under your belt, you could make a knowledgeable decision of not only where you want to retire, but what your approximate budget will be.
Stage Three: Make an Informed Decision
Stage Three of How to Retire Overseas describes the final decision. With a 6-month exploratory visit under your belt, you will know what to do next. Maybe you will be tired of the world and ready to go home. Maybe you will decide to live in a hut on a white sand beach? Maybe you will fall in love with a city full of modern amenities and beautiful weather. Maybe you will end up like me. I have made a life of slow traveling and learning all about the world and the various cultures. Maybe one day I will pick a place and settle down. But for now, I want to continue slow traveling the world. The good news is that you will not have to make this decision until the answer is obvious to you.
Thanks for listening to my ideas on How to Retire Overseas. For more videos on this topic, click the “Comparing Retire Cheap Places” playlist on our Youtube Channel.
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