This is my overseas retirement for beginners report.
In this report, I cover why some countries are better for new overseas western retirees than other countries because they are more westernized. If you have not yet spent at least six months living overseas, you may want to start with one of the countries that is easier for beginners.
At first, this may sound like a back-handed insult, like beginners are less capable or something like that. But the truth is, I almost didn’t make it through my first 6 months. My first country living overseas was India. India is just not the easiest place to adjust to during your first 6 months living overseas.
But if you can get past 6 months in India, you will love India, and your life will be forever richer because you lived there. But I am not promoting India for your first retirement country. Here is what I am saying.
If you have never lived outside your home country for at least 6 months, you have to think about this. Picking the right first country will increase the likelihood that your life overseas will be successful because you won’t be overwhelmed.
But once you get your overseas legs under you, it will be much easier for you to try more challenging countries. In fact, once you are more experienced, some of the countries I will recommend for beginners below, might just feel too westernized, and you won’t want to stay long term once you have been to other more culturally rich countries.
After almost 15 years living overseas in 67 different countries, I can safely say that once you have your overseas legs firmly under you, you may never want to go home. The world is an amazing place.
In a moment, I will explain how to identify a country that is suitable for beginners, but first I want to destroy a false belief that most people thinking about retiring overseas get stuck in their heads.
Your First Love Won’t Be Your Last Love
I need to destroy this false belief. When it comes to overseas retirement, you are likely to cheat on your first overseas country and fall in love with many other countries during retirement.
Get the idea out of your head that you are looking for the perfect Mr. or Mrs. Right country. Think of yourself more like someone that is separating from their old country, and wants to date around for a few years before tying the knot with a new country.
Is permanent everlasting love at first sight possible? Yes. But it is not likely.
If you are newly divorcing your old country after fifty years, would you want to just marry the first country you jump in bed with? Or would you want to explore the mysteries of life with a few other exotic and even stray countries, before you settle down again?
I am advising you to date around before settling down. You will know you picked the right place when you have compared to others with your feet on the ground. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks when you have found your heaven.
See yourself more like a Viking or Columbus. You are sailing off into the ocean blue and you are going to stop off at several ports along the way. You are going to explore your new life of adventure before you anchor yourself again. Don’t drop anchor at the first port.
So, if you are sitting on your couch, watching YouTube videos, trying to pick your favorite country without your feet on the ground, you need to stop. It is time to go eat the fruits of multiple countries before picking your favorite and tying the knot.
I know what you might be thinking, “Dan, what does it cost to go visit multiple countries for a few months each before picking my new retirement destination?” I cover this question in my report called, “Our Travel Expenses for 2020.” In 2020, Qiang and I visited 4 countries in 12 months and we discussed our expenses (link provided).
I know what else you are thinking. “My perfect place isn’t open yet.” I suggest you explore a few others before it opens so you will know how it compares to others once it opens.
We have retire cheap reports for over 80 destinations all over the world. We also have other resources that teach you how to slow travel the world for months or years at a time with very little money. One such resource teaches about the Slow Travel World Highway (link provided). You may just love slow travel and decide to keep doing it as we have.
We also have a process to help you get ready to leave your home country and a free eBook explaining, How I was able to fire my boss and travel the world for 14+ years (link provided).
The truth is the world is a very dynamic place. Things are likely to change many times over the next 20 to 30 years. You are likely to pull up anchor eventually and enjoy a few great countries during your golden years.
If you have visited a few others before you picking your favorite, you will have a head start on where to go should you ever have to pull up anchor and sail to another port in the future. From where we sit now, we can not see the future clearly.
Start to see the whole world as your playground instead of just looking for true love with one final country. That takes us back to the original reason for this report, what are the best countries for overseas retirement for beginners?
The first port of your adventure is important because it will give you time to adjust to your new life of foreign adventure. Your first stop should not cause sensory overload. So which of your top 5 favorites should you visit first? How do you answer that question?
Best Overseas Countries for Beginners
I will give you examples of countries that are easier for overseas beginners. But as I do that I will also talk about why some countries are better for beginners. This will help you order your top 5 accordingly.
I am just going to use SE Asia and Latin America in this example, but you’ll get the idea and know-how to apply these ideas should you be looking in other areas like Eastern Europe or South America.
Comfort Food: When people are first living outside their home country, finding comfort food can be one of the most challenging things. Fast, friendly, familiar, and often even cheap food is available in most western countries.
When people are hungry in their home country, they often just look up as they are driving down the street and see signs for familiar foods. There are chain restaurants in many parts of the world now, and people know exactly what they can get and what it will cost, as soon as they see the signs. They just pull over and grab something to eat with very little thought.
But what do you do if you end up in a place that has no familiar signs? Have you ever noticed that when you are hungry, you don’t think as well. Do you get impatient and feel stressed? You need to avoid as much as possible when you first leave home so you don’t get disoriented.
Many countries around the world have a proliferation of comfort foods from around the world. So you can quickly find things to eat when you are hungry.
Once you have been in a country for more than about 6 months, you will notice that you eat at these fast food places less often. That is because, by the 6th month, you will know something healthy and cheap you can eat. You will even begin to see these western foods as unhealthy once you know what to eat.
But in your first few weeks and months, these comfort foods may help you get over the learning curve. Once you know of a cheap healthier local alternative food, you will become less interested.
As an American, what are some of the “home” foods I see outside the USA? They are places like McDonald’s, Dominos Pizza, KFC, Subway, and Burger King.
I am only going to mention SE Asia and Latin America, but others listening to this are invited to share countries where they see these comfort foods. I am not saying these don’t exist in other countries, I am just giving examples in two parts of the world.
In SE Asia, you will see these foods in Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. In Latin America, you will see these foods in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Panama. But when we see these brands in other countries in those two parts of the world, it just doesn’t seem to be as often.
Language: If you get to your first new country and you are able to order food and get whatever information you need when you speak English to the locals, you will feel less stressed and have more fun. You will adjust more quickly to the quirkiness of whatever country you are getting to know.
Now, that doesn’t limit you to only English-speaking countries. It just means that you should pick areas of countries for your first visit, where there are local people in each business, that understand what you need and how to help you.
Yes, if you later decide to retire there, you should learn the basics of the local language to help you adjust, but since you are in the exploratory process and haven’t picked where to live yet, you should go to countries or areas within countries where there are people that understand what you need.
There are many places in the world where many, if not all businesses, have local people that understand enough English to understand what you need. Mostly those are tourist areas.
The common language in many tourist areas around the world is English. This is because Europeans often learn English in school. So if locals in tourist areas first learn English, they can often get higher-paying jobs in town.
So if we stay with just the SE Asia and Latin America examples, people will often understand what you need in the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia, and in the tourist areas in countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Once you have been there a few months, you will pick up on some local language and you will learn how to use Google Translate and other tricks to get what you want when you are outside tourist areas. So your first country is just a palace where you get the most help when you are cutting your teeth on foreign life.
Accommodations: When you first leave your home country you might be surprised by how little automation there is around the world. It wasn’t until I was 47 years old that I first lived in an apartment or home that did not have a dishwasher.
Now I almost never even see dishwashers no matter where I am in the world. We generally like to find places for about $20 a night or less. You will almost never see a dishwasher outside the USA even if you pay $40 per night. People just do the dishes themselves around most of the world.
But you may see a dishwasher in Americanized cultures like Costa Rica.
Qiang likes to get places that have clothing washing machines. She doesn’t like to send laundry out to the cleaners because something goes missing from time to time. But we almost never see clothing dryers around the world. In most of the world, people dry their clothes outside on clotheslines.
When you first leave your home country, you will just feel more comfortable having a nice place to live. Nice means whatever you are used to having in your home country. But as time passes, you will learn how to live comfortably in many different accommodations.
But in those first 6 months, spend a little more on accommodations that seem more like home. On web services like Airbnb.com, they even list what amenities each condo has.
But after a time, if you are like me, all you will need is a refrigerator, a gas stove, and pots and pans. Everything else is just a bonus if it happens to be there once you get used to life in your new country.
So, if you plan on retiring overseas, I suggest the following countries for beginners. If you are thinking of retiring cheap in Central America, I suggest Costa Rocas for your first country. Costa Rica is one of the most Americanized countries in Latin America.
But after you are more experienced and know how to get things done anywhere in the world, you will be ready for less Americanized countries. If you are like me, Costa Rica may even move closer to the bottom of your favorite places to live in Central America.
In SE Asia, I suggest Thailand, Malaysia, or the Philippines. There are many English speakers in all three and they have many of the comfort foods you will crave from home in the tourist areas.
If you live somewhere in the world that you believe is a very easy place for overseas retirement for beginners, please let us know in the notes below.
Thanks for reviewing our report Overseas Retirement for Beginners.
Make sure to grab a free copy of my eBook: How I Fired My Boss and Traveled the World for 14 Years!
This is Dan of Vagabond Awake, the Youtube channel for VagabondBuddha.com. Thank you for stopping by. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?