Is retirement looking like a bummer for baby boomers because they haven’t saved much? Retire abroad may be the answer. Or not.
I’m a natural born skeptic so when I find stories about Americans who moved to Panama, Ecuador, Thailand, or wherever and live like royalty I want to know the real story.
For instance, this one popped up on my computer screen. “Tim and Nancy McBride ran a restaurant most of their lives. Like many couples, they didn’t save enough for retirement. When the New York Times ran their story, it reported, ‘They had no pension other than their combined $1,583 a month in Social Security.’” And now they live with no money worries because they discovered a “little-known retirement secret.” They’re in prison.
Just kidding. Although that’s one solution for three meals, a cot, and free healthcare. I don’t know Tim and Nancy, but their story – skimpy as it is – can be found at www.internationalliving.com along with other happy tales of Americans with no money to speak of but living like royalty in retirement. But before you click on that link read on.
Ever the unbeliever I tried finding Tim and Nancy’s story in the New York Times. I’m pretty good at finding things, but I came up with an empty sack. But I did find numerous references to Tim and Nancy at websites like www.buildinginbaja.com and www.20beachtowns.com and www.thisopenroad.com and www.overseasretirementkit.com.
All of those websites are switcheroos that take you to International Living. And International Living is dedicated to selling stuff. All you got to do is buy a subscription to their magazine and voila! Discover the “No-Savings Retirement Plan” which is also for sale, and you too can retire with not a care in the world because you will have a big house on the beach, a full time maid, a cook and probably a butler, a gardener, a speech coach, a chauffer, a masseuse, a personal groomer, and your own personal bartender, doctor, and dentist.
So being a good and dedicated googler I entered International Living as my search request, and you would not effing believe the amount of online complaints about International Living. One post said the owner of International Living is into real estate, hence the drumbeat of so-called rock bottom house deals in their magazine which I haven’t subscribed to, thank you very much.
In my humble opinion if you face poverty in retirement and want to stretch your dollar overseas or just want to try something different check it out very carefully. Start with the U.S. Department of State travel website at http://travel.state.gov/travel/living/living_1243.html. It is full of useful information without sales pitches or opinions.
Then go to other websites such as this one about Costa Rica www.welovecostarica.com. It’s a pretty comprehensive website with all kinds of departments about medical care, law, and a handy table that compares real estate costs per square meter around the world. Example: Monaco is $59,814 a square meter, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania is $700. Like you’ll ever catch me looking for a home in Tanzania.
Speaking of Costa Rica, I once spent three weeks with a family in San Jose, Costa Rica and had a ball. I was there to attend an intensive Spanish course at the school next door. I also ziplined through the jungle canopy, went white water rafting down a river through an area that looked for all the world like Jurassic Park, and toured a coffee plantation. And I found out that real estate is not so cheap unless you’re willing to live way, way out of town.
Another interesting website for baby boomers thinking about expat living is www.boomersoffshore.com. It’s also about Costa Rica, but it’s a personal website of a couple who actually moved there. One thing they learned is the pricing policy of Ticos (what the locals call themselves). There is one price for Ticos and another price for Gringos. Guess which price is higher. And what do you bet that same dual pricing policy prevails in all countries on the planet when it comes to Americans.
But don’t think I’m just touting Costa Rica. I’m checking out Ecuador. Especially Cuenca, a city of about 500,000 souls high up in the Andes. The weather is beautiful year round, and I’m told real estate to buy or rent is very inexpensive. At least it is if this website is telling the truth www.cuencarealestate.com. I believe it is because I got a prompt reply to my email inquiring if any of the rental properties are available for a few weeks at a time. (And the answer was yes.)
You might also want to check out The Asia Expat: Why Thailand? Thoughts on Retirement on this site – it’s part of an ongoing series of reports of a couple who decided to retire abroad. Boomer Post contributors John and Jane Estes actually moved there and love it.
And if any of you have a clue as to how I can get rid of the barrage of emails from International Living please let me know.
Check out our other articles in the Expat category