For many people, retirement opens doors to picking a new place to live. The decision is often driven by those dreams that were not achievable during the many decades of being committed to jobs, children and proximity to job markets.
But when it is time to make the leap, it is important to keep in mind that it is not only how much you have saved for retirement, but how much your retirement destination is likely to cost you.
People often pick a destination based on weather, low crime rates, proximity to family and friends and availability of senior care and health care facilities. Money is a big factor, of course. But many costs can easily be overlooked, if you’re not familiar with the destination or swept by your desire to make the move. That is why it is important to find out think thoroughly of your options.
Here are three big money issues that you must consider.
Taxes could vary drastically from one country to another and even in different regions in your target destination. If you’re considering a particular area, make sure you understand potential rates of income tax, sales tax, property tax, etc. If your income is coming from investment, be sure you understand how taxable this income is. Talk to an attorney, if you can’t find answers that are reliable.
In addition, think of whether you will also be required to pay taxes in your home country. Although your retirement income is probably relatively low, you need to be realistic as to how much you will be able to take home. Remember your options are option: If you’re after living in the sun or by the ocean, you probably can find destinations that require low or no taxes.
Health insurance and care
Sorry you’re not getting any younger. Retirement can come with many health concerns, and access to excellent health care should be on your mind and in your planning. Be sure you know how much health insurance is going to cost you, and what kind of coverage you realistically will be able to get in your destination while you don’t have a job.
In addition, be sure you will be able to at least cover the costs or regular care as well as any emergencies. If you have regular health care requirements, like check-ups, treatments or therapy, be sure to explore your transportation and accommodation options and costs near the health care facilities that you have in mind.
Will you still be able to have health insurance in your home country? If you can and you can afford it, this might be an affordable option if you think that you will need to return for medical care, in case of an emergency or a major health crisis.
Think beyond your early retirement years. Yes, when you’re in your sixties you might enjoy swimming, hiking and other activities. But if you’re picking your retirement destination for many decades to come, there is more to consider. Will you be able to age in your planned housing? If not, will you be to sell it successfully and move to some sort of senior living.
You might feel this is premature, but it is a step that must be well thought out, because it will determine the quality of life you have in your much older age. At least have a plan for a potential relocation when needed to a place that can accommodate your changing needs. Within this planning, you will need to consider your savings, debt and overall ability to make another move.
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.
Planning for retirement
■ Know the tax requirements in your country and destination
■ Find health insurance and medical costs
■ Think of changes in your future health needs