Tips For Starting An Expat Life


Up to now, you spent your life working, saving and waiting for your much deserved retirement. Now the time has come and you’re wondering, what now? Maybe the better question should be, where now? Many people are finding that living abroad can offer you some real adventure in some beautiful places, while at the same time proving a cheaper cost of living. You may even find some really interesting or unusual homes, in places you never dreamed of living. Living the life of an expat isn’t for everyone but if your up to the task the experience can be like no other.

Here are some things to consider before starting a new life as an expat.


Many countries will require a visa. It is important you do some country specific research on obtaining foreign visas. There are two main types, Travel Visas and Work Visas. If you are planning on retiring, many countries have an open door policy as long as you do not plan on working and can prove you have enough money to remain retired. Most counties have a monthly income requirement for retired expats. As long as you can prove that you have enough money coming in each month you can obtain a long term visa allowing you to live in the country. Be sure to check to length of time alloted on the Visa.

Even if you can prove that you have enough money to retire and a visa is given, that visa may still have some time stipulations. Many countries require that you leave the country for a couple weeks or more every six months or so, and then come back and renew your visa for another six months. This is no problem for people who like to travel, but unless you are retiring to a country that has close boarders, leaving every six months can be a real hardship.

Travel First, Move Second

Before you get too impulsive, pack up, and take the next flight to that island paradise you keep dreaming of, plan a trip there first. Foreign places are just that foreign. Pictures and stories in magazines and online blogs can make a place seem like some long lost paradise of perfection. That is not always the reality of the situation. Visiting is a lot different than moving to a place for good, and you should always see the place for yourself before making a life changing decision. Also spend some extended time at your destination. This is a your chance to see what it would be like to live there, not how fun it is to visit for a week.

Spending some time there before you move will also give you a chance to acclimate yourself to a new place. When you’re scouting and planning an international move, consider the language and cultural barriers of the place you’ll be moving to. These factors can take some time to learn or be come accustom to, so be sure the country is a good, comfortable, and feasible fit for your retirement life style.

Safety First

You want to be sure you feel safe. Safety abroad can be a real issue. Even if the place you are going is safe it might not feel safe to you, and that’s all that matters. Traveling before you move can give you a good sense of the place and help you decide if it is the right place for you to spend the rest of your life. When considering safety ask yourself if you want to be the only expat around, or if finding an expat community is a better fit? Many people will feel safer in a new country if they have some familiar neighbors and established support groups. Some people may want to escape and find a little extra risk is worth being far away from other expats.

Consider Financial Needs, and logistics

Of course anyone looking to retire as an expat will need to be able to afford the cost of living. Foreign countries can offer a cheaper cost of living and may allow you the luxury of an early retirement, others may be more expensive and out of reach. Its a good idea to start a list of all possible financial considerations for international living.

Research the exchange rate. Your money may go further than you thought or you may find yourself much tighter than you expected. Also consider the health care system, some countries have great healthcare systems and others not so much. Also some private and governmental health insurance programs do not cover living abroad. Check your insurance options before you go. Banking can also be a nightmare for those living in foreign countries. You may not be able to open a bank account. Be sure you have the ability to pay bills, move money.

Be Patient 

Once you have done all your due diligence and you have moved into your new dream life, be patient with yourself. No matter how amazing your new home is, there will be tough times. Be sure to give yourself some time to adjust. Giving yourself time to settle in is a must. Most people say it takes about three months to feel completely at home. Pack a few things from home like your favorite movies or dvds of your favorite t.v. show. It seems trivial but sometime those little reminders of home can really hit the spot during the adjustment phase.