Here are just a few examples of why you should not retire cheap internationally if any of the following applies to you and you haven’t found a solution.
Here are some questions I have received that tell me why I think at least some of you shouldn’t retire cheap internationally without more research. If you are passionate, you can overcome most of these without much trouble.
I received a message from a couple a few months ago. I don’t remember the exact message so I will paraphrase.
We have about $800 USD per month retirement income total between the two of us and no savings. My husband has diabetes and we both have mobility issues.
I will answer this question in detail in the next three sections before moving onto question 2. This first question raises the first three issues: Money, Mobility, and Health.
Do You Have Enough Money?
I would not leave my home country if I didn’t have enough money. I have always had the good luck of having some money in savings in case of emergencies. I was in the hospital in India once and it cost me about $1600 for 5 days stay. I had insurance at the time so my deductible was only $200.
I was in Thailand once when a friend got sick and I decided to pay their medical expenses for a hospital stay of $3600 USD. Those two emergencies were 8 years apart, so it doesn’t happen that often to me personally, but I like having the money available in case of emergency.
How much emergency money you need depends on how risk tolerant you are and what other resources (friends and family) you can lean on in an emergency. I have a high tolerance for risk but I never, ever, ever ask friends or family for money.
For me, I don’t think I would leave my home country unless I had at least $10k in cash savings and another $10k open on credit cards. I have no balance on my credit cards, I pay them off monthly and only use them to pay for online travel purchases.
Some people have a lower risk tolerance than me. They want more money available in savings for emergencies plus evacuation insurance. Evacuation insurance repatriates you in case of a medical emergency. That means they fly you home if you are involved in an accident that requires specialized medical treatment and you are not in good enough shape to fly commercial airlines.
Plus, I would want more than $900 available for monthly cash flow. At my tolerance level, I would be willing to leave the USA with around $1500 USD monthly cash flow even if I was going to a country that I could live on less than $1000 per month. Many countries you would need more than $1500 month even if you are frugal like me, but $1500 month should be enough in my retire cheap in paradise countries once you learn how to be frugal like me.
If I were much younger, I would probably be okay with around $5000 in savings and $5000 open on credit cards and maybe as low as $1000 USD per month depending on which retire cheap in paradise country I would be visiting.
If I were comfortable relying on family and friends back home in helping me out in an emergency, which I am not, but maybe you are, I might be willing to live internationally with less of a savings cushion.
That brings up another possibility. What if other people were supporting me partially or completely? If it was costing others $1500 per month and I could move somewhere I knew was a better life for $1000 per month, maybe I would do that to save their money? Presumably, they would pay my flight back if I hated it? Okay, let’s talk about mobility.
Also, remember that I do not believe that anyone should consider living internationally until they have done an exploratory visit first. That also takes money. I am not trying to be negative here I just want people to think this through.
Which Countries Are Mobility Friendly?
They also mentioned that they have mobility issues. I suppose that means they need a wheelchair or walker. Many, if not all of the retire cheap in paradise countries are not sidewalk friendly for people with mobility issues. I have full mobility so far, so I have not collected data on mobility. I do know that you should not assume anything about mobility in developing countries. You will need to research that issue separately before deciding suitable places to retire or visit internationally. A quick Google search found a few articles about mobility friendly states. Link provided.
I would start by finding a few countries where research showed a country was friendly towards people with mobility issues. But I would not stop there. Next, I would find someone that has my personal mobility issue that lives in that country and ask their personal opinion about the challenges they face.
How would I find them? I would start by searching on Facebook. For example, if my research showed Ecuador was mobility friendly, I would search on the Facebook Expat pages in each city to find someone: “Cuenca Expats,” “Quito Expats,” or “Otavalo Expats.” I would join those groups and post a question:
“Hi, my name is Dan from the USA. I read online that Ecuador is wheelchair friendly. Do any of you know an ex-pat that uses a wheelchair? Would they be willing to talk to me via email or whatever?”
You need to hear it from the horse’s mouth before doing an exploratory run to Ecuador.
Which Health Issues Should Keep You Home?
If I had certain chronic diseases I may decide not to retire internationally. But I say this with some qualifications.
If I had a temporary life-threatening disease and I was comfortable with the doctor helping me manage that disease, I would probably stay home rather than live or retire cheap internationally. However, that would depend on which disease, whether or not I had insurance at home, and whether or not the healthcare was cheaper and or better somewhere else in the world.
Let me give you an example. A friend of mine from India came down with cancer about 10 years ago. He was from a wealthy family, and they decided to send him to the USA for treatment. Luckily he is still alive today.
I was curious, so a few years ago I Googled facilities all over the world that specialized in treatment for that particular cancer. I found a report rating the cure rates and costs for that cancer and there were several in India, one that was rated higher than most of the facilities around the world.
My friend could afford to get the treatment in the USA and that is what his family wanted. I never asked, but the treatment probably cost him about $300,000 to $400,000 in the USA. Whereas, in India, it would have probably been around $40,000.
Do you think I am exaggerating? I am not. I have experienced this myself. Above, I mention that I was in the hospital in India. When I showed the services and the bills to a doctor in the USA, he told me that my $1600 hospital stay in India for 5 days would have cost $40,000 to $80,000 USD. The care in the USA can be 25 times as much as other places in the world.
My deductible in the USA would have been more than the entire cost in India. Plus, I was in an expat hospital. It was more beautiful and as modern as an American hospital.
But you will need more specific information to answer this question for yourself.
Just like mobility, you need to do some research about your particular temporary life threatening disease before understanding your risk here. You should do basically the same thing I taught you above about mobility.
First, find out what countries have “medical tourism” for your temporary life-threatening disease by searching generally on Google. Then find someone that experienced that disease and was treated at that facility in that country. Once you know the countries (and facilities) that treat that disease, you may find an expat Facebook page with someone that was treated there, but maybe not. You may need to ask the hospital for a few references or look for third party websites that rate hospitals.
But what if you have some sort of disease that is long term and requires weekly or monthly visits to monitor? For example, diabetes was mentioned above in question 1. Information about that sort of disease, about a specific international location, is more likely to be found in a facebook group if it is common.
The point is, you need to be more specific in your research and don’t consider moving there until you feel completely informed and are comfortable. Remember to ask specifically about the costs of both the health care and the medicine itself when you interview the person that suffers from your condition.
Finally, you need to ask about the availability and costs for health insurance for someone with your particular disease in that particular city. Countrywide insurance may not help if it is not accepted by that particular facility. And don’t forget to ask whether or not pre-existing conditions are allowed, or would prohibit you from getting insurance … and ask for their insurance agents’ contact information.
Because all of these factors vary from city to city, from disease to disease, you will be unable to resolve them without significant research on your part. You should not retire cheap internationally until you have all your questions and concerns answered from the horse’s mouth about your particular situation.
What about me you may ask? Do I have health insurance? First, I do not have any history of chronic or life-threatening disease … knock on wood. I am 59 years old this year. I work out 5 days (vigorously) a week and eat a vegetarian diet and often cook at least one meal a day in my own kitchen. I drink too much coffee and often sleep 5 hours per night but that is my only vice.
I get a complete checkup every year or so at one of the best expat hospitals in Bangkok, one of the finest in the world. Link Provided. But I do not carry health insurance. Why have I decided to not carry health insurance?
I had Obamacare in the USA, but never once used it in 5 years. My Obamacare monthly payments were about $500 per month and my deductible was $10,000 per year. $500 per month for 5 years is $30,000 on health care in the USA, but I never went to the doctor even once while I was paying those premiums? Why? Because I could get whatever I needed outside the USA for an 80% discount and since my deductible was never met, why would I want to pay USA medical prices? Since I never spend more than 2 weeks a year in the USA, it was a no brainer to drop my insurance.
There are very few diseases I could get in the future that would cost more than $30,000 outside the USA, and I believe the service at the right spot in the right part of the world is as good or better if I do the research and find the best “medical tourism” hospital for any disease I may get.
So I decided not to buy insurance anywhere in the world. I am self-insured, meaning, I will have to pay for whatever happens to me. But you could fairly ask, why don’t I buy insurance in Thailand, or Vietnam or the Philippines or Ecuador or whatever? Two reasons, I don’t know what disease I will be facing yet if any. So I, therefore, don’t know what country to buy insurance. Plus I spend every year in at least 4 countries. So I would probably never be where I needed insurance. So I have decided to self-insure.
There are companies that cover you worldwide, but they don’t cover cancer yet.
So, in conclusion, if you have a medical condition and don’t have the resources to self insure, you will need to do the research I recommend above. Once you find the best retire cheap country in the world that is well suited for your medical care, insurance, and health conditions, then you will know about the insurance there also. If you are unable to find such a country, I am sad to say, but I recommend that you should stay home. 🙁
Once you hit 65 years, if you are a US citizen, you can add US seniors insurance in the USA. Then you just fly home if you have a life-threatening disease.
Here is a combination of multiple questions I have heard that help make a point.
What country is the best for me? I am looking for white-sand beaches, turquoise water, low crime, cheaper prices, the locals speak English, my favorite foods like McDonald’s, Dominos, and TGI Fridays, a large expat community from the USA, a Walmart, and a Protestant denomination church?
They are not displaying any interest in foreign culture
Do you see the problem here? There is no curiosity here about the world. They just want to live somewhere like the USA that is cheaper than the USA.
If they had mentioned a few items that they had experienced in a foreign country that they want to find in their new home, then having a few USA conveniences would not be the end of the world. But they seem to just want a cheaper version of the USA to live in.
I would recommend that they move to the panhandle in Florida or Tampa depending on their budget and the size of town they like.
But if they insist on living internationally, I would recommend they do some exploratory visits first to determine their level of chaos tolerance. Some people just hate the inconvenience of being outside their home country. They have life figured out and they don’t want to learn so much in a new place.
They need to spend a few months in a few other countries before they will be ready to discover what they like and don’t like about being outside the USA. One of my close friends watched me travel the world for a decade before she made her first foreign visit. She was so excited when she left for Paris. But she didn’t even last 2 weeks. She said that she didn’t know what to eat there.
Some people just like the predictability of a life they have come to know and love. They don’t want to learn what to eat in other countries, how to ride buses in other countries, or the customs of a new country.
You should not attempt to retire cheap internationally if you do not have a strong curiosity about the world outside the USA. And you will not know that until you try. You should never plan to move anywhere until you have done an exploratory visit first. You need to love a place enough to put yourself in the middle of 6 months of chaos. If you still love it after 6 months, then you are the kind of person that could retire cheap internationally.
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