Some people move abroad to live their dream; most find their dream destination to be largely defined by affordability.
Cost of living and price of real estate must be compared to resources and the likelihood of expats finding work in their new home country. Finances are a major consideration, but there are other things to consider and avoid.
According to AARP, the top countries to retire abroad in 2017 include countries in Central America. This yearly index ranks countries based on factors such as cost of living, retiree benefits, climate, crime and health care.
USA Today recommends The Bahamas, because of its proximity to Florida, tax breaks, first-class medical care, and ease of communication. English is the language of the country. Transitions Abroad offers a wealth of information about living abroad for people in all life stages from students to retirees.
Aside from the cost of living, the cost of real estate and the often convoluted laws regarding real estate purchases by foreigners, anyone contemplating a move abroad should consider the following questions.
Is there a community of other expats?
Chances are there are groups of expats living in your chosen country. Do you want to live in a gated, guarded community or do you want to live in a neighborhood of locals? Whatever your choice, you will probably want to visit with some of them to hear answers first-hand. They are the experts in the challenges you will be facing in your new life. Thanks to social media, you can easily connect with other expats and arrange visits and outings, get recommendations for professional services, and find answers to those questions you never thought to ask before your move.
Can I bring my pet?
Most countries allow foreigners to bring pets, but each country has its own specific requirements. A recent veterinary certificate of health and a valid rabies certificate is mandatory, but definitions of "recent" vary according to country. Most countries charge fees, and some may require that your pet be quarantined for days, even weeks. Check when you begin planning your move, and check again a month before you move as laws change.
What is the primary language of the country?
If you do not know the language, are you committed to learning it? In most tourist areas all over the world, enough store clerks, hotel staff, and restaurant workers know enough English to assist you in completing basic tourist transactions. A few countries, such as the Bahamas, are English speaking countries. ATMs usually offer an English option. You may be living among and doing business with locals who do not know English, so be prepared to become a bilingual world citizen.
Do I need a visa to live in my new home-country?
Most countries require a tourist visa that can be renewed indefinitely, but a renewal often requires leaving the country and re-entering, which can usually be done on the same day. To avoid the renewal hassle, becoming a permanent resident is a worthy goal. This process usually requires a stack of paperwork and months, even years to achieve. Each country has its own requirements, and laws change frequently.
What about healthcare?
Medicare won't pay out-of-country medical expenses, but some private insurers will. First, check your health insurance policies. Then, find out the average cost of health care in your chosen country. Some countries are so inexpensive, U.S. citizens travel there for more affordable health services. "Medical tourism" is the term to google. Quality of health care in other countries ranges from "better than U.S." to "risky." Pick the country and region where you want to live, and then find out how close you are to quality, affordable care. Decide how willing you are to travel to the US for medical care covered by Medicare and/or your private insurer.
Determining the best place to buy your vacation home overseas is such an individual matter, you really need to decide where you will be happiest, then factor in affordability and other lifestyle choices.
Ultimately, you have to visit the Bahamas to truly understand what it's like to live here, which is why we recommend scheduling a Discovery Stay!