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retire abroad
Old 08-25-2009, 05:00 PM   #1
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retire abroad

I was googling around, dreaming of retiring abroad and came across advertisements like this. Places like Uruguay/Argentina as well as others. Is there any truth to these type claims? The thought and fantasy of this type stuff is appealing but how much reality lives between the lines? Some of you expats probably know the truth so what say you/ as well as others. Is it just a pipe dream?

Steve
Edit: I wish I had used a different subject title so slash the king part. that's old as the hills.

How Americans Save $15,000 a Year on Healthcare... by Looking Abroad
How Americans Save $15,000 a Year on Healthcare... by Looking Abroad
(edited title per OP)

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Old 08-26-2009, 12:02 AM   #2
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First, they're trying to sell you a book. So of course they're going to make it look good.

Second, yes, there is quality health care to be had in other countries. Whether or not that's a good reason to move there for retirement is another issue entirely.

I'd be very hesitant about traveling to another country for health care if I did not have fluency in the common language there. It's difficult enough to understand the risks and potential benefits of treatment courses here in my native tongue, let alone thousands of miles from home in a foreign country.

My FIL lived in Ecuador for several years of his retirement. For what it's worth, he got very little medical care there and instead took care of things when he was back here visiting in the states.
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Old 08-26-2009, 01:15 AM   #3
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My "broad" is already retired thankyouverymuch...

No really, I am abroad (not "a broad") and would prefer to go home to retire...

...and I get much of my health issues cared for in the states. I have insurance in both places...it is cheaper here, quality is not as bad as it used to be, but I still feel more comfortable dealing with it in my own language (even though I am fluent in the local language).

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Old 08-26-2009, 10:03 AM   #4
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Hi Stevewc,

Billy and I have been living and traveling overseas with visits to the States mixed in, since the early ‘90’s. We have had medical care in more countries than I’d like to admit… Some things were just for the flu or traveler’s belly, however we have had full physicals, dental care and procedures such as colonoscopies, and glaucoma screenings, along with visits that were more medically complicated.

Since we have many Ex-pat friends and some of them live full time out of Canada or the US, these people have had operations, chemo treatment and the full range of medical care, and when the time comes, live-in help or daily help for their aging or medically impaired spouse.

Some things in the States are easier - like speaking the same language - but some are more challenging. For instance, having to possibly wait a couple of weeks to get in for a 10 minute appointment, and then if you have tests done, often no one calls you with the results. In the States one needs a doctor’s referral in order to see another doctor, whereas in the countries where we have had medical care, one simply shows up or makes an appointment himself with whatever specialist one would like.

The mountains of paperwork one needs to go through after a procedure is done here in the States can be nerve-wracking. One gets the EOB’s from the insurance company and also the billings from the medical office and the clinics and the radiologists and so on. Then you need to match the work done, the equipment used, the doctors who checked on the patient and the drugs administered, to the billing received and that can be a real challenge if the procedure done required a few day’s hospital stay.

If one finds charges for procedures or equipment not used and drugs not administered, then an audit can be requested… and then there is more paperwork with the revised EOB’s and billings. All of this takes hours on the phone and months of waiting for all the paperwork to come in the mail. In our experience of having procedures done in foreign countries, we receive a quote for work to be performed. It is the full amount (minus your prescriptions) net, and will include the hospital stay, the physical therapy, the doctors' visits etc. No mystery. Sometimes, when they quote too high, there is a refund due to you.

The attitude of doctors, nurses, and office staff here in the States is much more ‘removed’ emotionally than we find in other countries. Simple service techniques have gone by the wayside in general, and in many places the offices and waiting rooms are cheerless and barren. The fact that we are the paying customer and they are working for us has been pushed far to the side.

Whereas our experience in foreign countries we find that there is a code of humane conduct and simple courtesy. Office staff, nurses and doctors all greet you with smiles, ask how you are doing, how you are feeling today, and pleasant chit chat while they process your appointment or get to the business of finding out why you have come to them. There are plants in waiting rooms, water fountains, soothing music - and in some cases , like Bumrungrad Hospital in Thailand - a person who goes around offering you fruit juice or fresh cool glasses of water while you wait.

These differences aside, in our experience, there is no perfect place. Realistically there are always trade offs.

One absolutely can receive quality medical care for less out of pocket expense (including insurances, medicines, specialists, etc.) in some locations over seas. There is a whole Medical Tourism industry whose focus is to guide you through the process - they will help you find the country, the best and most qualified type of doctor that your procedure requires, help you with airfare, find a place for your companion to stay (often these hospitals have facilities for families and companions to stay close by along with choices of restaurants on the premises, not just hospital cafeterias) and can help you with follow up care back home or there in that country.

What they don’t have is deep pockets for you to sue them if something goes wrong. You can recuperate in a luxury resort for a month for a fraction of the price a few days in the hospital here would cost, but you cannot sue the pants off the doctors and the hospital itself.

I realize this is a long post but if you are truly interested in learning more about your medical options, take a look at Medical Vacations: The Retiree Health-Care Solution? and also, from our Preferred Links Pages our Medical Tourism Page which lists insurances, an expatriat medicine guide, dental clinics and internationally accredited hospitals as well as the companies who could help you with any medical care overseas that you may require.

Thanks for your time. Medical Tourism definitely isn’t for everyone, but it is most certainly an option for some, and an option worth your consideration.

Be well,

Akaisha
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Old 08-26-2009, 02:39 PM   #5
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Getting in to see a doctor is easier, and they all give you their cell phone numbers and they answer too. I needed a cat scan and dropped into the nearest hospital. They asked if I was in a hurry. I said not at all. But I lived 2 blocks away and would rather come back. So they made an appointment for the next day at 11 and by 12 I was all done. I got the analysis by email by 4pm the same day.

I picked up the films of the scans so I can take them to any doctor that I go to see. I get treated like a customer and I like it.
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Old 08-26-2009, 03:19 PM   #6
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My experiences (although limited) have been "Great as well". We have English speaking doctors (when requested). I pay $65.00 a month for a family of three. This gives you a discount of 20%-50% on most drugs/exams and each of us get 3 free consultations a month along with 24 hour free phone consultations. My son(4) who seems to live there (2 blocks from our apartment) usually does not get charged for extra visits and when (poor dad) shows up with him the doctor always throws in plenty of free samples.

I use a religious run hospital (7th day Adventists)and the people are as nice as they can be (always smiling). In fact as I write this (in 1 hr) I will be going to my dentist to get a second crown put in ($150) after they did my root canal ($80) last week.

One of the other perks is Doctors make house calls and all the drug stores deliver 24 hours! Hell even Mc Donalds delivers for no charge!
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Old 08-27-2009, 08:11 AM   #7
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All you folks make it sound easy but I imagine it takes years to actually get comfortable living in all these different countries.
My guess is a newbie would want to pick a country, preferably English speaking and go slow. Gaining Confidence, growing into this thing as time passes.
Especially if one has little out of the comfort zone experience,
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Old 08-27-2009, 01:06 PM   #8
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I guess we had the benefit of living around in our youth. I spent 5 months in Metz east of Paris (bilingual, French and German) and DW worked in Mexico City and NY.

But if you have moved from NYC to New Orleans, you would experience many differences in just about everything, including language!

But what we did was go to our chosen destination for 3 weeks, then 4 weeks then 2 months and then 3 months, and did not buy until we were prepared to spend 6 months. Where we bought was not where we stayed initially because being retired is different than life on the beach...
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Old 08-27-2009, 01:16 PM   #9
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Once more, I insist, come to Spain. Our public system of health care and medical services covers most everyone. Plenty of Anglos retiring here.
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Old 08-28-2009, 12:22 PM   #10
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So they made an appointment for the next day at 11 and by 12 I was all done. I got the analysis by email by 4pm the same day. I picked up the films of the scans so I can take them to any doctor that I go to see. I get treated like a customer and I like it.
Your last sentence says it all, and customer service in the medical field is something this country has unfortunately lost...

This efficient and pleasant service in other nations has been our experience as well - including having doctors and hospitals running specials for certain procedures - like dentists offering teeth cleanings for a discounted price -- bring in a friend and get 2 for the price of 1 ½, or in Thailand they will run specials on ‘Executive physicals’ which will include all kinds of heart stress tests, blood work and so on.
Medical delivery for prevention services is just like any other product. Why we keep it sacrosanct is a disservice to all of us customers, IMO.

I mean I’m not talking ‘2 for 1 kidney transplants’ here… but buying medical packages is very common in other countries. For instance, in Chapala, Mexico, our doctor offers a package where you are allowed so many office visits per year, discounts on prescriptions, certain preventive procedures, so many phone calls, 1 hospital visit, 1 dental visit in his clinic, etc…. all for $200 per year.

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All you folks make it sound easy but I imagine it takes years to actually get comfortable living in all these different countries.
My guess is a newbie would want to pick a country, preferably English speaking and go slow. Gaining Confidence, growing into this thing as time passes. Especially if one has little out of the comfort zone experience,
Steve
I think Kcowan had a point -- if you were to move to Louisiana from NYC, you would have experienced much of the same sort of ‘lifestyle shock’ - different food, customs, language, scenery, etc.

You don’t need to push yourself to do this, but if the idea appeals… then perhaps you could give it a go slowly, like you said.

Best of luck,

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Old 08-28-2009, 12:49 PM   #11
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I love the simplicity of our medical system. No bills, no paperwork, no phone calls to make, no companies to fight, no stress over billing errors, etc. I make an appointment online with whatever doctor I choose anywhere in country, go and get treated. That's it.

I like how all blood/lab work is done on site in the hospital or private medical clinic. No driving to some private lab on the other side of town where you wait for 3 hours to get blood drawn and then a couple more days for results.

I take my daughter to a pediatrician in a private medical clinic and the reason is that it's right across the street from where we live. Just easier than fussing with going to the central hospital downtown with a toddler in tow, even though that would be free. It's a high tech private clinic with all the bells and whistles and internationally staffed. We just pay cash when we go since we're not covered by their private insurance plan. Anyway, an office visit (which lasts about 20 - 30 minutes and not rushed at all) costs only $35. And they have an in-house lab that process my daughters bloodwork in 10 minutes or so (depending on the test). We have results before we leave. The cost for the lab work is (again depending on the tests) is between $15 - $40.

I also like how the doctors (private and public) discuss lifestyle adjustments, exercise, nutrition, alternative treatments, etc to compliment the more rigid western medical advice.
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Old 08-28-2009, 02:49 PM   #12
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Especially if one has little out of the comfort zone experience,
Steve
I think you hit the "nail on the head"! I remember reading somewhere that only 25% of Americans had a passport,many of those had never been overseas as opposed to Europeans!

While I agree on "medical tourism" I do not think people should retire overseas for "medical reasons".

Most people I meet (in Peru) first came here to see Cusco and Macchu Picchu or maybe the Jungle or Colca Canyon. During there time here many fall in love with the food,culture, people or the lifestyle. It has an impact on them and presents a challange (if you can make here you can make it anywhere).

Part of that challange is to understand a different culture and perhaps learn a new language, but the bigger part is to EXPERIENCE LIFE different and perhaps better than your "working life".

I think this applies to almost any country and by travelling in your earlier years or early stages of retirement, hopefully you will meet a place that captures not only your heart but your soul!
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Old 08-28-2009, 03:39 PM   #13
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I think this applies to almost any country and by travelling in your earlier years or early stages of retirement, hopefully you will meet a place that captures not only your heart but your soul!
Yes I think that most of us who choose a foreign place do so because it is better not because it is cheaper. Although cheaper is nice too.

What I love is the interaction. Unlike a suburb where you drive into your garage without emerging from your car, then enter the house through the interior door, here you go to the neighborhood store (remember those?) to buy your fresh daily items and you interact with your neighbours.

And your neighbors will watch your back because you will look out for them too. It is like small town America but more accepting of "foreigners".
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Old 08-29-2009, 09:50 AM   #14
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Yes I think that most of us who choose a foreign place do so because it is better not because it is cheaper. Although cheaper is nice too.

What I love is the interaction. Unlike a suburb where you drive into your garage without emerging from your car, then enter the house through the interior door, here you go to the neighborhood store (remember those?) to buy your fresh daily items and you interact with your neighbours.

And your neighbors will watch your back because you will look out for them too. It is like small town America but more accepting of "foreigners".
I think the tremendous benefits of living abroad for retirement is woefully misunderstood by most Americans. I live in a remote island east of Bali in Indonesia. My income is $3000 per month and I live like a king. I bought my land and built a nice house for less than $20,000.

I was introduced to Asia while "visiting" Asian countries on leave while serving in the Navy during Vietnam. So perhaps their is some truth to idea that if you travel earlier in life you feel more comfortable to return when you retire. But that doesn't have to be true.

Single men and single women who are older and out of the "dating scene" in the US will find it a refreshing change to be greeted on the street by a young smiling face. The culture in many foreign cultures have no stigma about people who have much older or younger spouses.

Almost everywhere in the world English is a universal language - especially for a professional. Practically every doctor in the world must understand and communicate in English - or they could not read the most simple article about some medication written on the Internet. A German pharmaceutical company with a new medication will have an internet site written in English. So an Indonesian speaking doctor must speak and read English.

I think there is a general misunderstanding about doctors in foreign countries. In all foreign countries, a certain class of the local people are rich enough to want good medical care. So, I believe almost every major city in every country has at least one, well equipped hospital. Unless you need brain surgery, a doctor and a hospital is available to give you treatment more or less equal to what you can get in the US. And of course, the cost is much less.

This idea that the US has the "best medical care in the world" may be true if you have a very complex disease. But in most cases medical care for 95% of the illnesses can be handled in hospitals around the world.
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:46 AM   #15
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Single men and single women who are older and out of the "dating scene" in the US will find it a refreshing change to be greeted on the street by a young smiling face. The culture in many foreign cultures have no stigma about people who have much older or younger spouses.
When you say age differences are accepted and lacking in stigma, I think you are ignoring the obvious - money changes perspectives. With an income of $3,000 a month an American living in the Philippines, Peru, or on "a remote island east of Bali in Indonesia" is wealthy by comparison. People who have little are willing to see things differently (as in convincing themselves the end justifies the means) when it comes to a young girl marrying an older man. You may see it as a "cultural difference", but I see it as an unsavory financial relationship and a little pathetic - and I suspect I'm not alone in my views.

The fact you and many other men living overseas post about the ability of an older man to 'attract' a much younger woman (some seem to dwell on it) only reinforces my beliefs.

Just my opinion.
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:55 AM   #16
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I, too, am put off by these claims of these nice young (implied to be subservient) women falling all over themselves to date comparatively wealthy American retirees. I'll fall back on what Ha says: if they had better choices, they'd be making them.

And as a woman I'll just add: ick.
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:09 AM   #17
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When you say age differences are accepted and lacking in stigma, I think you are ignoring the obvious - money changes perspectives. With an income of $3,000 a month an American living in the Philippines, Peru, or on "a remote island east of Bali in Indonesia" is wealthy by comparison. People who have little are willing to see things differently (as in convincing themselves the end justifies the means) when it comes to a young girl marrying an older man. You may see it as a "cultural difference", but I see it as an unsavory financial relationship and a little pathetic - and I suspect I'm not alone in my views.

The fact you and many other men living overseas post about the ability of an older man to 'attract' a much younger woman (some seem to dwell on it) only reinforces my beliefs.

Just my opinion.
Mine, too.

Since Americans living in many of these poverty-striken locations have such a high income compared with the local populace, pretty young women flock to them as though they were millionaire rock stars (as one might expect). Men who go overseas largely due to the availability of such encounters remind me of women who write to serial killers in prison. They are likely to get a positive response, but some might say they are just fooling themselves.
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:20 AM   #18
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And as a woman I'll just add: ick.
And though I'm not a woman, I'd imagine that women who were fortunate enough to be born into more affluent nations and more prosperous financial situations can read all of this and think here, "there but for the grace of God go I" (or similar sentiment for the non-religious out there).

Their only "mistake" was being born in a different place and into less fortunate circumstances.
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Old 08-29-2009, 12:00 PM   #19
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When you say age differences are accepted and lacking in stigma, I think you are ignoring the obvious - money changes perspectives. With an income of $3,000 a month an American living in the Philippines, Peru, or on "a remote island east of Bali in Indonesia" is wealthy by comparison. People who have little are willing to see things differently (as in convincing themselves the end justifies the means) when it comes to a young girl marrying an older man. You may see it as a "cultural difference", but I see it as an unsavory financial relationship and a little pathetic - and I suspect I'm not alone in my views.

The fact you and many other men living overseas post about the ability of an older man to 'attract' a much younger woman (some seem to dwell on it) only reinforces my beliefs.

Just my opinion.
Having lived in the Philippines, we knew guys who married women their own age (and one woman who married a guy). Those marriages did not have any stigma attached to it, especially since they were of the same social class. What you are talking about is not dating or the social scene, it is a financial transaction. And the stigma is there, they are just too polite to mention it in front of you.
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Old 08-29-2009, 01:24 PM   #20
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What you are talking about is not dating or the social scene, it is a financial transaction. And the stigma is there, they are just too polite to mention it in front of you.
You see that here as well. Very prosperous business tycoons attract a flock of very attractive younger women. The scale of wealth may be different in more affluent developed countries, but the phenomenon is the same.

I also think the "stigma" you refer to is more complex, including at least some admiration or jealousy as well as the more judgmental elements.
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