Would You Live/Retire Abroad?

Would You Live/Retire Abroad?

I fully admit that I do a lot of daydreaming and fantasizing about the future. Probably too much. I mean one of my biggest issues is being more present instead of thinking and primarily worrying about the future. However, I really do like thinking about my potential financial dreams. This is also the time of year, summer, when things slow down for me. While I am still working, my schedule is a lot less structured. I am teaching, doing research, and doing some advising, but I also get into habits where I am sleeping later and the like. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also gets me thinking about summer vacations, vacations in general, and just thinking about the future.

Right now, I feel like I am a bit job locked. I just got promoted. I am making and saving more money, trying to pay down debt, while increasing my net worth to reach my FI goal. At the same time, the call to do other things, move other places gets stronger by the year. Maybe it is a mid-life crisis, but I actively think about what is the next chapter in my life. Mrs. ROB and I both still want to have children, but being older that doesn’t mean I want to stay in one place with them. I want my children to have a lot of what I didn’t get, particularly the love of travel.

One of those aspects that I have always wanted to do is to live abroad. If I could I think I would retire abroad right now or at least buy a place. For my next sabbatical, when and if I ever get there I would love to take a year-long sabbatical and teach at a university abroad while doing research. That would be really cool.

Beyond that though I don’t want to work forever or at least full-time. And the truth is living in the United States is expensive so Mrs. ROB and I have talked, not seriously, about moving abroad when we would retire or maybe even sooner. For me that brings up 2 questions. When would we do it? Where would we do it?

When Would We Move/Live Abroad?

Well, I have already mentioned that I would like to live abroad during an upcoming sabbatical. Now that sabbatical is at least 3 years away so I have a while, but I was thinking about more on a permanent basis. When would we go? For me, here are some of those characteristics.

  1. We need to be debt free. For me this is a must. I don’t want to be paying student loans while I am abroad. I want my student loans gone. Also, no car payments, credit cards or anything, just totally debt free. If we had a mortgage I would think that we would sell the property and take the equity to add to our financial independence. Luckily, I should be student loan debt free by the time I am 52. So while I still have a ways to go it just gives me more time to save.
  2. We need to have calculated some expenses. I don’t do anything without doing a lot of research first. Maybe that makes me too cautious, but I like to know what I am getting into. Examining where we would want to go would mean that we would have to visit a couple of times to see what kind of place is it. Is it urban? Rural? Cost of an apartment? Food? What are the local amenities for daily life like groceries? culture? education? Where are the expats at? Where do they meet?
  3. We need to have the money to do so. I actually wouldn’t mind teaching at a local university or something for extra money, but before we go I would want to make sure that we have the money to live in that community if we didn’t need it. In fact, I would probably want to get some kind of work. I need to do something. Maybe that is working on line, creating a business (I am actually toying with a couple of ideas now), teaching online? Who knows. But we need to have the funds. So item #2 influences item #3. Personally, I would determine that by using the 4% rule and having 25 times the amount of expenses we would need to live in that place.

Where Would We Live?

If you have thought about living abroad I would definitely check out the website International Living. Also, check out the personal finance blogs of Go Curry Cracker and Millennial Revolution to name a few. Both couples are FI and traveling the world. GCC are even doing it with a baby (now that is inspirational).

Now before I go further there are plenty of personal finance folks that I follow that actually live there lives out of RVs or travel the country (Steve over at Think.Save.Retire is one). I don’t mention them not as a slight, but I have NO desire to travel the country in an RV. I would rather fly or drive, stay for a bit. And if I were to live abroad I would want a home base. I like routine. I like having local amenities and feeling rooted to a community. Plus, I want to live abroad. So that leaves the question where would we go?

Well, there are a lot of great articles out there that talk about inexpensive places to retire. This is becoming particularly true for a lot of older Americans who maybe can’t afford a home or something else in really expensive places in the country. Here are a couple of articles if you are interested in these places. In fact, I think more people will look abroad to retire as health care costs go up. Older people who retire abroad often have to demonstrate that they have income, but that can be social security. And if you just direct deposit your SS you can have proof of income and that is often enough money for people to live pretty well.

That said, we have some personal preferences about where we would go.

  1. Iceland. My wife and I LOVE Iceland. It was the very first trip we ever took together and we fell in love with it. The people, the food, Reykjavik were awesome. Yes it is cold, but we are from Minnesota. It is colder there. The problem is Iceland is that it is EXPENSIVE! However, if we could afford it I bet we would buy a flat there.
  2. Mexico. Me encanta Mexico. My very first trip abroad was a high school trip to Mexico. I obtained a Spanish degree because of it and I am still pretty good at the language. I have been back several times (mainly to the resort towns) but I love Mexico. It also helps when you speak the language. The good thing about Mexico is that it is fairly inexpensive and close to the United States. Also, the idea of sitting on the beach with a drink in my hand perpetually has some appeal.
  3. England/Scotland/Ireland. Ironically, I have never been to any of these places. So this is pure fantasy. However, the weather is temperate. Various parts of these places are fairly inexpensive. I know people there. They have great universities. And Mrs. ROB loves her Irish heritage. We actually go to England for the first time in a couple of weeks. But the idea of hanging out in a British Pub a lot does suit my fancy.
  4. Prague. My wife and I fell in love with Prague. What a beautiful city. And the fact it is much cheaper than other European destinations doesn’t hurt. We don’t speak Czech, but we can learn and we found a lot of people speak English. Our taxi driver on the way to the airport tried to convince us to move basically telling me that they need people with advanced degrees and I could get a job easily in the Czech Republic. Did I also mention the beer is GREAT!
  5. A Caribbean destination. Again, this is pure fantasy. I have only been to the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia so I have no idea what the other islands are like, but island life where you slow down and relax is appealing. Plus, it is closer to family and the like. Also, any Central American country (e.g. Panama, Nicaragua, or Costa Rica) where we would live in a city that borders the Caribbean would be an option.

The Bottom Line: Ultimately, this could change. There are so many parts of the world I want to see more of. I have only been to 2 Asian countries and only one African country. I loved my time in South Africa (except for the people are crazy drivers). I loved Cape Town. It was my kind of vibe. But I am a person who loves a place with lots of history, culture, and places where I can get a feel for the local environment. Maybe that is why most of the places above are in Europe or close to Europe. I enjoy Europe. I wouldn’t mind settling down in Denmark or Norway, but they are a bit more expensive than other parts of Europe. The only way I will know is by traveling more (tough problem to have huh).

I am sure if you were to ask me in five years this might change. It might be a log cabin in the northwest part of Maine. Who knows? But I have wanted to live abroad for as long as I can remember. Even if that time is only a year I hope that I meet that goal/dream before I pass from this world.

Anybody else want to live abroad? Where would it be? Why? Leave your comments below. I would love to hear them.

2 thoughts on “Would You Live/Retire Abroad?

  1. I understand the desire to experience other places on the planet. It’s important to try to do a lot of it while you are able. For example, when I went to this castle in Scotland, I was glad that I am physically able to visit it. It’s a lot of stairs and walking up and down: https://www.dunnottarcastle.co.uk/ But it was a beautiful day and a beautiful castle with an interesting history.

    That said, you might consider applying for a Fulbright. A Fulbright would allow you to live somewhere else for a specified period of time. I did one on my first sabbatical (although you could take a leave and not wait for a sabbatical). It was one of the highlights of my academic career. There are other international opportunities as well, e.g., visiting positions and so on.

    Best wishes on a lot of adventures in life!

    1. Thanks Tom. I do hope to do a lot more. I want to be more like Tom and your adventures. Hope you are well. We need to get together soon.

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