It is estimated that 10,000 baby-boomer turn age 65 every day and will for the next 15-20 years. Many are financially unprepared to maintain their lifestyles throughout what is being called a “thirty-year period of unemployment.” But as gloomy as the financial industry seems to paint the preparedness of this generation, their creativity and resilience to a change in comfort and lifestyle has also created new ways of thinking about retirement, such as second careers, lifestyle businesses, and for some, ex-patriot life.
There are places overseas where your social security check alone will cover housing, medical, and entertainment with room to spare. Places where you can dig your toes into powder-white sand, or view mountains from a colonial-era town. Places where you get dirt-cheap health care and a gorgeous climate all year. Places where your costs are as low as $1,000 a month.
If you can’t bear the thought of being so far from loved ones, factor in a couple of trips home every year. In this global age, you’re never far from an airport. Or decide to take it six months at a time, renting a place to live and re-evaluating as you go. You can even rent out your house while you’re gone for some extra income, and assurance that you can return to your old life.
Below are five countries where retirees can live especially well and cheaply. Four of them are in the Americas, and one is Asia’s best bet for retirees. All offer outstanding bang for your buck. Each one is paired with the approximate cost for two people. Yes, there will be money left over for those trips home!
How Safe is Living Abroad?
Safety is another important concern. None of the areas is on the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Alerts list, although some parts of Mexico are quite dangerous and include travel warnings due to cartel activity. The Global Peace Index attempts to measure a nation’s peacefulness. It ranks 163 nations from first to last. Here is where the following countries stand, including the U.S. for reference:
- Malaysia: 29
- Costa Rica: 34
- Panama: 49
- Ecuador: 66
- Nicaragua: 74
- United States: 114
- Mexico: 142
Another safety concern is especially pertinent to Americans who have just watched multiple hurricanes slam the country. Inland is always safer from hurricanes, but if you prefer to live on the coast, you might try Panama, which has had only a single hurricane, in 1969. Ecuador doesn’t get hurricanes, but El Nino causes intense weather patterns that generate rain and floods on the coast. Only two hurricanes have made landfall in Nicaragua, and the Yucatan in Mexico does occasionally get hit, though less often than the same coast to the north. Finally, Malaysia officially has typhoons instead of hurricanes. Penang is vulnerable to flash flooding, wind and storms. It has also been hit with a tsunami after an earthquake in the ocean.
No matter what politicians decide about healthcare, one thing is for sure—your Medicare coverage won’t go with you if you decide to retire overseas. Luckily, though, there are many countries where, as a legal resident, you can qualify for a local healthcare plan that’s often more comprehensive and less costly than Medicare.
Here’s what you need to know: Medicare doesn’t normally cover healthcare costs outside the U.S. (The official definition of the U.S. includes the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands—you can use your Medicare benefits in these countries.)
There are however, some small exceptions that allow you to use your Medicare benefits internationally. If you are traveling in the U.S. and have a medical emergency, but the nearest hospital is in Canada or Mexico, you can qualify for Medicare coverage at that nearby hospital. Similarly, you can use your benefits if you are traveling to or from Alaska via Canada and the nearest hospital is in Canada. If you become ill or have an emergency while on a cruise, and you seek assistance from the doctor onboard, if the ship is no more than six hours from a U.S. port, you will be covered by Medicare.
How to be prepared: If you often travel internationally, consider one of the Medicare C through J supplement (Medigap) plans sold by private companies that provide foreign coverage. Especially if you relocate overseas—consider an evacuation plan (many are available) that will cover the cost of your transportation back to the U.S. for treatment.
But here’s the good news: Even though you may want to maintain your Medicare coverage as a fallback if you retire overseas, you’ll find many countries offer residents a government-sponsored health coverage plan. In some cases, you’ll pay a percentage of your income…often $100 to $200 a month for a couple, depending on your age, for a full government healthcare plan that covers office visits…hospitalization…prescriptions, and more.
So…ready to trade in the typical retirement scenario that we advisors generally help clients plan for – with increasing healthcare and housing costs – for one in which your social security check can afford you a comfortable lifestyle? With technology making the world a much smaller place, perhaps living abroad is a viable alternative.
Source: International Living: https://internationalliving.com/the-best-places-to-retire/
David Russell serves as Sr. Vice President of Wealth Management at Pinnacle Trust. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by calling the office at 601-957-0323.