Retiring Overseas: Could It Be for You?

I recently finished reading The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget: How to Live Well on $25,000 a Year* and I want to share some of my thoughts on the book and see if retiring overseas is an option for you.  First let me give you a little background on why I chose to read this book.

When I first started out looking for information on retiring early, it led me to a few books about retiring overseas for less money, but I was not very interested in at the time.  Thankfully the lack of early retirement books led me to some great early retirement blogs that I still read today and even this beauty of a blog called Even Steven Money, I am not above self-promotion!  I am now coming close to the 2 year mark on when I made the declaration and plan to reach financial independence, I provide updates on my journey from time to time, like here and here.  Every day that goes by is a little closer to the reality of financial independence and not just made up on the internet, like this guy.  Mrs. Even Steven and I talk about the final details from time to time like where we plan to live.  She has dreams of living in Florida full-time and I have dreams of living in Florida for part of the year and Chicago for the remaining, I’m hoping this will be one of the “tough decisions” we have to make in the future.  While discussing this future dilemma of ours, I casually mentioned the idea of living in Nicaragua for part of the year as well, which is near and dear to my wife’s heart as she was originally born there, lived for some time, has family, and travels to on a yearly basis, I even wrote about what learned as I joined this past year.  Which led me to the book previously mentioned we will call it ROB(Retiring Overseas on a Budget).  Let’s see what they have to say about ROB.

When I look for any books on retiring early, my first look is for a newer published book, and something that has some title appeal.  ROB fit the description to a tee, being published in 2014 and the idea of a $25,000 budget a la Mr. Money Mustache puts this right to the front of the line.  The authors Suzan and Dan are a married couple who 12 years ago left Omaha, Nebraska(Warren Buffett Country) and moved overseas as an opportunity arose to write about their new found expatriate experience for International Living magazine.  Throughout the book they share valuable advice on their own experiences living abroad.  The main idea behind the book is that many places in America are expensive, why not go to a new land and find a new experience, get out of the dreaded rat race by practicing geographical arbitrage in another country.  They give examples of saving thousands per year on insurance, medical, and housing expenses, some of which are their own and some are from the countless number of expats(expat or expatriate is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person’s upbringing) they have come across in their travels and work.

A few things stood out to me while reading this book:

  • I think it is possible to live overseas on a reduced budget compared to what similar items would cost in America.
  • It has been said by me and many others that the items that eat up your budget are the Big 3, housing, transportation, and food.  In this book they add a 4th in my mind and this is medical(insurance and costs), which can be significantly reduced by retiring overseas
  • The target audience of this book is closer to the 55-65 range than the 35-45 range, which for some of the benefits that are discussed in select countries would be missed out on because of age and a lack of pension that some countries require to reap the rewards.
  • When I go on vacation I want to go to the beach(living in Chicago will do that to you after you put on 7 layers of clothing), so I assumed that would be where I wanted to live, but after reading some of the pros and cons of retiring by the beach compared to living near the mountains, I found out I really don’t know the answer.
  • The book makes you think and ask more questions not only about location, but family, finances, lifestyle, and the reason behind your potential journey.

Overall I really liked the book it made me think about different items that I had not considered before.  For those of you interested in reading the book and the many details I have left out of the 258 page hardcover, including a really great breakdown of the pros and cons of living in a number of cities and countries across the globe, make sure to check out your local library** or buy it here* or click on the picture to your right.

I haven’t come to any conclusions on retiring overseas, but I can certainly see it being a viable option in some capacity even for a short period of time.  Who knows maybe in 6 years I’ll be laying in a hammock watching the ocean waves, one never knows.

What I really want to know is what you think about retiring overseas?  Could you pick up all your things and move to a Latin American country?  Would the allure of oceans, mountains, or countryside tempt you enough to relocate?  What do you think would be the most enjoyable?  What makes you cautious about retirement overseas?


*This is an affiliate link, if you choose to buy the book through this link, I get a little chunk of change that pays the bills to keep the lights on at this place and I thank you.

**If they have the book at your local library I highly suggest you grab it there.  Even Steven Money promotes not spending extra money, but rather using that money to pay off debt and invest so we can all reach financial independence.

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25 Responses to “Retiring Overseas: Could It Be for You?

  • I have to admit – this is something I have not thought about much. I think mostly that is because when we FIRE, we will still have two small children, and I want to stay close to their grandparents. I have thought that while the kids are growing up, it may be fun to try and house swap – or rent out our primary home – to spend a few months of the summer overseas. I’ve always dreamed of being able to rent a house abroad for a month or two and just immerse myself in another culture… but I think retiring overseas is a great idea!
    Mrs SSC recently posted…The ‘lightbulb’ emailsMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Yeah one of the things in the book that get’s brought is family and being close, I could see kids being difficult in an overseas situation, I like the house abroad for a couple months, for you guys the summer would probably make the most sense with school.

  • We would probably be living overseas right now if we didn’t have kids. That’s the honest truth. We could live cheaply on a beach somewhere and earn our living online easily.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Epic Budget Failure: When Everything Goes WrongMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      That’s pretty interesting, well at least knowing you could do something like that is pretty great.

  • We’d like to raise our kids abroad, at least for a time, so this is likely in the plan for us. Thanks for the book recommendations, Steven. We’ll give it a look.
    Done by Forty recently posted…Quick HitsMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Glad I could help. I could see a child really benefiting from a year or two abroad learning a different culture and another language.

  • Retiring overseas or living abroad is something that I often read about and find interesting. My wife and I sometimes talk about it, though we know we’d probably wouldn’t do it. She was born in Honduras but most of her family is in the US now. I think being close to family is very important to us and it would be tough to go overseas. However, Mexico and Central America are relatively close to many parts of the U.S I guess. I was reading some random blogs yesterday about people who live overseas in low cost living areas working as English teachers (some countries pay pretty well), blogging, freelancing, etc…pretty interesting.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Yeah it definitely gets you thinking. We both have a built in country that would bridge the gap, which would also give us a chance to visit the country on a temporary basis. I’m not ready to jump ship now by any means, but it makes you think about it.

  • We aren’t exactly retired yet, but in 2009 we did move ‘overseas’ (if Canada qualifies) in part to set ourselves up for a more financially secure retirement. The guaranteed, affordable health insurance available here in British Columbia saves us a bundle and equally important to me offers tremendous peace of mind. Over the five years since we relocated, I estimate we’ve saved $25,000 in health insurance premiums and about $80,000 in health care costs (I had very significant medical testing and treatment in 2012.) And we’ve found the quality of care in Canada to be excellent, on par or better than our experience in the U.S. Because of our move, we’ll be able to retire much sooner than if we’d stayed on in the U.S.
    Kurt @ Money Counselor recently posted…State Credit Score RankingsMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      That’s great that you were able to save so much money by moving to our neighbor to the north, I assume this was done to take advantage of the medical aspects rather than enjoy the terrain. That is one thing the book spelled out repeatedly is the amount of savings that would be had in medical costs, especially as one gets older which is what audience the book was directed at. I’m not very familiar with Canadian health insurance, but it’s based on everyone having healthcare at little to no cost. I’m really glad that this worked out for and hope your health has improved.

  • My wife and I both lived in Argentina for two years. Some things are very expensive like gas because it is sold in liters, but not many people drive, they ride bikes or motorcycles or take public transportation. It is much different than car dependent places like the U.S. While I like the idea and we have looked in to it, most of the people there would rather live here so I think we’d still visit and travel the world rather than retire there…but we’ll see where we are at in another 20 years.
    Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income recently posted…Dear Frugal People, You Aren’t Wanted AnymoreMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Nice to hear from someone with experience on the matter, thanks Lance. I would think most people who want to move to the US are looking for opportunity rather than a more relaxed life, which could be the reason for the desire to move. Agreed 20 years does have some effect on our lives.

  • Have you read ‘T4HWW’ by Tim Ferriss? How do the two books compare?
    Will recently posted…How to Use Investing to Pacify Your Desire to SpendMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      I read that book so long ago, I honestly don’t remember. From what I can recall Retiring Overseas is more of a detailed experience on what to expect and look for in retiring overseas, rather than the Tim Ferriss here’s what you need to do so you can work/retire from almost anywhere.

  • There are many great countries to move to once you hit that magical “retirement” age. Often you read about the same countries making the top expat list such as Panama, Ecuador or Thailand. Of course there are others. Typically, these countries have great medical care are stable economically and offer many of the same “tech” that’s available in the U.S. for a fraction of the cost. No place is perfect. Even the U.S. so I’m sure others will point out the negatives in the countries I mentioned but as a whole I would definitely consider living overseas.
    DivHut recently posted…DivHut Portfolio UpdateMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Yeah the “retirement age” was mentioned a few times in the book, I wanted to say hey what about being 40 and owning real estate that counts as a pension right??? No dice I’m sure, but I like hearing that you would consider an overseas adventure.

  • The thought has crossed my mind and I am not averse to picking up and moving to a different country that is appealing and affordable. Many people ask if I would move back to Trinidad as I would easily be able to afford the cost of living there but I am still not sold on the idea.
    Kassandra recently posted…Are You Keeping A Secret?My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      I would think it would be easier to back to a home country or previously lived place than an uproot and new country. I went to school in Miami for a year and hung out with a lot of people from Trinidad, had a great time with them.

  • I think about living abroad all of the time. I actually lived a short time in Mexico and at one point in my life I actually spoke Spanish fluently (not anymore….close though). The great thing about my job is that I have the opportunity to take people abroad and I plan on applying for a Fulbright in the near future so we can get some initial international living.

    If I had to pick a couple of places I would definitely look into Cuenca, Ecuador and/or Panama. Both countries are inexpensive, have good services, and plenty of American expats. I hope I get the change to maybe pursue it.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      That sounds like a great perk to have for the job! I think inexpensive and good services are important, I might be ok with being removed from the expat crowd, but I could see them being some of the more fun people to hang out with and learn from as well.

  • I would love to retire overseas. I also plan on teaching English overseas so that could be what I possibly do in my free time while I am ‘retired’, but I guess that might defeat the purpose.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Sounds fun. I’ve had a couple of friends teach English overseas and have really liked it. If you don’t need the money and you are doing it for fun, you’re retired.

  • I am not a water person, so I would want to retire in a city which has hills nearby for hiking. Vienna has hills, but I would like some warmer weather. I have been thinking of retiring Madrid as I would rather remain in Europe. I have been there a couple of times and most prices were cheaper than in Vienna, but I would need to research about medical, accommodation, etc.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      I have been to Madrid a couple times, I really enjoyed it, not sure about Vienna. Madrid has the city feel, so much to see as well.

  • Cool review here Steve and thanks for it.. To answer your questions

    What I really want to know is what you think about retiring overseas?
    Definitely could and not 100% I’d even wait to “retire” 😉

    Could you pick up all your things and move to a Latin American country?
    Yep, love history and there’s plenty of it there all of the below temptations i.e. oceans, mountains etc would be great for me, keeping fit too 🙂

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