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What to do if you want to retire abroad
Old 04-01-2021, 03:09 PM   #21
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What to do if you want to retire abroad

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Originally Posted by Out of Steam View Post
I'm not sick of the US, and have no desire to permanently live elsewhere, but am concerned enough about the possibility of unrest that I can conceive of relocating within the country or leaving altogether.

Having lived through 1970s NYC, my lesson from that experience was not to stay put in a declining living situation.


I must say right around January 6th I was seriously thinking I might have to come up with Plan B for getting out of Dodge.

Reality is, however, as OP wrote when you get to be Medicare eligible it is real hard (unless you've got dual passport) to figure out how to make the whole overseas thing work.
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Old 04-01-2021, 03:21 PM   #22
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I must say right around January 6th I was seriously thinking I might have to come up with Plan B for getting out of Dodge.
Oh, I've never thought it was anywhere near that bad. And for most of my life I lived within an hour and a half bicycle ride of the Washington Monument.

This is an interesting thread, hearing from people who are "sort of" or who have been "on the outside looking in". There are some fascinating perspectives.
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Old 04-01-2021, 03:24 PM   #23
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With regard to Thailand, did you mean that health *insurance* for people in the their 70s and 80s is not possible. Just wondering what you meant. Thanks.
Getting health insurance was the one aspect of retiring overseas when you are in your 70's or 80's that made me hesitate. I know you can do it, but it's expensive and probably won't cover any pre-exisiting conditions. When I lived in Singapore until the age of 67, I was teaching part-time, and my insurance was about $4000/year, but had a very high deductible and did not cover pre-existing conditions. I know the same is true in Thailand, but even though the healthcare is inexpensive in Thailand, health care costs can mount up. Someone living there now certainly knows more than I do, but I suspect they are in their 50's or 60's, and health insurance is much easier to acquire.

I inquired about the retirement visa in Panama and Portugal, because those countries allow you to get into their respective government healthcare systems after a few years.

Rob
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Old 04-01-2021, 05:32 PM   #24
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Getting health insurance was the one aspect of retiring overseas when you are in your 70's or 80's that made me hesitate. I know you can do it, but it's expensive and probably won't cover any pre-exisiting conditions. When I lived in Singapore until the age of 67, I was teaching part-time, and my insurance was about $4000/year, but had a very high deductible and did not cover pre-existing conditions. I know the same is true in Thailand, but even though the healthcare is inexpensive in Thailand, health care costs can mount up. Someone living there now certainly knows more than I do, but I suspect they are in their 50's or 60's, and health insurance is much easier to acquire.
I don't believe my uncle pays much for his health insurance, he's in his late 70s now. He's currently in an excellent hospital in Thailand after having had a stroke a week ago and is getting great care according to our family friends (his best friends in Thailand), when he's recovered I can ask him how much it costs.
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Old 04-01-2021, 07:15 PM   #25
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Very interesting thread. I am married to an EU citizen and we talk about potentially retiring there, probably 10 years from now. I have no idea what the future will bring or where we will be. We've been living in Asia (China and Singapore) and Africa for the last 10 years and are moving to eastern Europe soon. Portugal is on the top of my list if we move to Europe for retirement. The health care system is indeed a big draw, in addition to good climate and in general a very beautiful country. I'm still trying to think if I can stomach the 48% taxes after the first 10 years when the NHR status runs out, but it's too far down the road to worry about.
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Old 04-01-2021, 08:28 PM   #26
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To the person who mentioned Thailand, I can relate. The flights from Singapore to Thailand were also cheap and plentiful. However, the requirement to leave the country and return every few months to satisfy the retirement visa is perhaps something a future 80+ year old person like myself would prefer not to do. Also, health care for people in their 70's and 80's is not possible, I suspect that you are in your 50's or 60's, and you certainly can do that at that age. I would, also.

Rob
Just a slight correction on your comment about Thailand . . .

For those retiring in Thailand on a non-immigrant O visa you do not have to leave and return every 90 days. That is one option that some people chose however you can also choose to extend your visa one year at a time without ever leaving the country. You just have to meet the financial requirements.

You also are not required to have health insurance if you remain here on a non-O visa and extensions. You also don’t need health insurance if you are married to a Thai if that is where your life takes you.

I am here on a non-immigrant OA visa and I am on my 4th extension. I am required to have health insurance. My Thai insurance premium is less than my US insurance was though I have about a $1500 deductible. You can buy a lot of medical care for $1500 here and I can easily afford this. I will admit that if you are over 70 years old when you first buy insurance then that could be a problem.
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Old 04-02-2021, 05:42 AM   #27
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My wife and I are in our 12th year of moving to Europe (Switzerland) from the USA (Maine). We are both more comfortable with the European lifestyle, culture and mindset. Some things have taken time to get used to -- taxes are low but there are user fees on many things; healthcare is universally required of all residents, however you pay for it yourself all of your life (sort of like Obamacare for everyone, generally your employer doesn't pay for it); most retail is closed on Sundays (which has turned out to be a blessing...everyone goes out into nature, do things on the lakes, tan on beaches, visits with family, or window shops in town). Finally, no checks in the banking system. You pay invoices by bank transfer from your account to the biller's account. I love this system...takes seconds online or a few minutes at the local post office. Cash and credit card in retail situations of course.

It's an intensely private country...your business is largely your own (unless it's not legal). For example, the government (very weak federal in a system of strong cantons) wanted to eliminate the 1,000 Swiss franc currency note but there was overwhelming opposition. The Swiss feel that they should be able to conduct some large cash business transactions without the government having access to an electronic record of it. Again, not illegal stuff, just MYOB transactions. I have held some of these notes in my hand. It is a weird feeling!

We plan to stay indefinitely. We love our location in a small city on an alpine lake, easy access to travel throughout Europe by train, car, or air, and the general friendliness of everyone here. I have not encountered rudeness, as a rule. We have to be careful about spending because this is one of the most expensive countries in the world and the Swiss franc is about 30% overvalued. Ninety percent of our income derives from US-based investments, so I am a keen observer of exchange rate trends. I would never consider investing anywhere else...it's the best system in the world in terms of law, transparency and access to information. The Swiss brokerages are medieval by comparison in some senses.

What I miss in the US is the convenience of shopping, the easy going casualness of my fellow Americans, the diversity in race, and the cold, snowy winters of Maine! We live in southern Switzerland (just to the south of the Alps, on the border with northern Italy) where it snows once/twice a year, palm trees are everywhere, and a lot of plants flower through the winter. As someone who spent a decade in Maine, I find this a bit bewildering. "What, no mud season?" But extremely enjoyable now that I am in my mid-sixties.

We have permanent residence right now and plan to seek citizenship, while keeping our US passports as well. We have many reasons to travel back to the US (friends, family, Walmart for cheaper over the counter medications--one can pay 10 Swiss francs for 10 ibuprofen tablets).

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Old 04-02-2021, 08:50 AM   #28
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Oh, I've never thought it was anywhere near that bad. And for most of my life I lived within an hour and a half bicycle ride of the Washington Monument.
I admit to having been very shaken by the experience of January 6th, which came remarkably close to succeeding. It also appears that there will be few repercussions for the plotters. I still believe that the US is in a powder keg situation, and am working on getting a second passport I am eligible for through my immigrant parents.
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Old 04-02-2021, 01:39 PM   #29
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Getting health insurance was the one aspect of retiring overseas when you are in your 70's or 80's that made me hesitate. I know you can do it, but it's expensive and probably won't cover any pre-exisiting conditions. When I lived in Singapore until the age of 67, I was teaching part-time, and my insurance was about $4000/year, but had a very high deductible and did not cover pre-existing conditions. I know the same is true in Thailand, but even though the healthcare is inexpensive in Thailand, health care costs can mount up. Someone living there now certainly knows more than I do, but I suspect they are in their 50's or 60's, and health insurance is much easier to acquire.

I inquired about the retirement visa in Panama and Portugal, because those countries allow you to get into their respective government healthcare systems after a few years.

Rob
The reality is most expats just pay out of pocket given how much cheaper healthcare is outside the U.S., though I know in Mexico many also buy into the public health system as catastrophic e.g. "hit by a bus" insurance since it costs only a few hundred bucks/year.

You can always keep paying for Part B so you have coverage back in the U.S. for serious medical procedures...one expat in Mexico I followed online came back for an organ transplant via Medicare, then returned to Mexico.

Frankly, in your 70s/80s you need to start thinking about quality of life over quantity...had a relative recently die who had discontinued their chemo because it was putting them into the ICU for over a week with internal bleeding after every round of treatment.
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Old 04-02-2021, 03:58 PM   #30
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I admit to having been very shaken by the experience of January 6th, which came remarkably close to succeeding. It also appears that there will be few repercussions for the plotters. I still believe that the US is in a powder keg situation, and am working on getting a second passport I am eligible for through my immigrant parents.
Yep, same here. We have our "mental evacuation kit" ready, with three possible locations in different corners of the world to go to, with immediate use hotels, medium term rentals, and health care all figured out. One bottleneck is flights, and in January because of Covid, it would have been somewhat hard to get out; but even then you could go to Europe with an intermediate stop in the Yucatan in Mexico and no quarantine, a friend did that.
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Old 04-02-2021, 06:36 PM   #31
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I admit to having been very shaken by the experience of January 6th, which came remarkably close to succeeding. It also appears that there will be few repercussions for the plotters. I still believe that the US is in a powder keg situation, and am working on getting a second passport I am eligible for through my immigrant parents.


Interesting perspective. I viewed it as how bad it could have gone and people showed restraint. Thankful no one went down that path which tells me people held back and I hope they never get there. What was and is concerning to me is the push pull between the people and the institutions that have morphed into wanting to control everything. Ground truth and common sense seems to be missing at this point.
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Old 04-02-2021, 07:49 PM   #32
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Getting health insurance was the one aspect of retiring overseas when you are in your 70's or 80's that made me hesitate. I know you can do it, but it's expensive and probably won't cover any pre-exisiting conditions. When I lived in Singapore until the age of 67, I was teaching part-time, and my insurance was about $4000/year, but had a very high deductible and did not cover pre-existing conditions. I know the same is true in Thailand, but even though the healthcare is inexpensive in Thailand, health care costs can mount up. Someone living there now certainly knows more than I do, but I suspect they are in their 50's or 60's, and health insurance is much easier to acquire.

I inquired about the retirement visa in Panama and Portugal, because those countries allow you to get into their respective government healthcare systems after a few years.

Rob
I am afraid that you don't really know how much insurance and health care cost here in the US for people in late 50 > 65.

I paid $800/month for a high deductible ins plan ($6,600 max out of pocket, that means insurance only pays after I pay up to 6.6k).

Few years ago, I stayed in the hospital for 2 nights, got billed 10k per night - No major operation, they only scoped my stomach and looked for ulcer. A doctor woke me up around 2:00am, and asked a few questions - the itemized cost for his visit is $800

I would self insure if I live in Singapore, Thailand or Vietnam.
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Old 04-03-2021, 04:59 AM   #33
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<mod note> There have been multiple complaints about some posts. Can we please keep the thread conversations focused on locations and destinations for retirement abroad and not on current events in the US?
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What to do if you are sick of the US and want to retire abroad
Old 04-03-2021, 08:31 AM   #34
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What to do if you are sick of the US and want to retire abroad

For those interested in exploring expatriation there is a company called Nomad Capitalist and their founder Andrew Henderson posts daily videos and podcasts about a wide array of expat issues. Their free content used to be about nomadism but recently the emphasis is more on relocation, taxes, citizenship, etc. Their motto is “Go where you’re treated best”. I think that idea makes a lot sense. Of course, everyone has a different idea of what that looks like. Anyway you may want to check out their online content if you’re really interested in doing this.

Don’t forget the US is different than other countries in that they tax your income no matter where you “live” in the world. Are you willing to renounce your US citizenship to avoid US taxes - and pay the related exit taxes all at once? I ran the numbers on exit taxes for myself - and it would be very expensive for me at this time. So for now I keep limited ties to the US but travel overseas extensively, not spending enough time in any other country to get caught up in their tax systems.

I want to enjoy life for as long as I am healthy and able to do so. I don’t want a lot of complications and drama (and that means avoiding politics, which is not easy to do these days.)
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Old 04-03-2021, 09:19 AM   #35
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My original comments concerned about my returning to the States for retirement after spending 40+ years overseas. I returned at the age of 67, and now almost 74.

I did not want this to get too political, but references to the recent disturbances caused the comments to veer off what was intended.

Getting health care overseas when you are in your 70's and 80's can be prohibitive. I am thankful for the benefits of Medicare at my age. I read with interest about the one gentleman in Thailand in his upper 70's that had heart surgery, and it was relatively inexpensive compared to the US.

I'm going to be more of a snowbird and see where it goes from there. The winters in western Washington can be pretty wet, and in the past I've gone to Lake Chapala and Ensenada in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Tucson. I only stayed a few weeks each time, and I think I'll stay a lot longer next time. El Paso is my next destination as a snowbird, and I'm going to extend that for a few months.

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Old 04-03-2021, 09:30 AM   #36
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Some excellent perspectives in this thread; thanks to all who've participated as well as the OP.

We spent a cumulative ~5 years living in Mexico as expats, driven largely by health insurance and health care costs pre-Obamacare. Have been back in the U.S. for a couple of years - in part because rents and overcrowding in popular expat havens in Mexico over the past 4 years due to Americans fleeing the U.S. made those places more expensive than many sunny, low-cost locales in the U.S. (and that's a close to "politics" as I intend to get here, heeding the moderator's cautions).

At various times when living down there we had private health insurance, paid into the Mexican system (IMSS/Seguro Popular) and self-insured. As others have mentioned, we mostly just happily paid out-of-pocket for routine and minor emergency care. 40 pesos (about two dollars) to see the Spanish-only speaking doctor attached to almost every pharmacy, up to 300 pesos to see an English-speaking GP or specialist doc in gringo-haven places like Lake Chapala or San Miguel de Allende. I sliced up my hand on a broken dish one day requiring a dozen stitches and that cost me 150 pesos at the local Red Cross (with about a 2 minute wait to see the doctor).

At the worst-case-scenario extreme I know uninsured expats who've had to pay for quadruple-bypass surgery and follow-up or breast cancer treatments including surgery and chemo in top private hospitals without insurance who've had to pay as much as 30-40K out of pocket. A big number for sure but that's what worst-case self-insurance dice rolling looks like.

Private health insurance premiums become prohibitively high after about age 70 down there. Much of the problem is that the pool is so small. Many expats sign up for IMSS and/or Seguro Popular as a catastrophic insurance backup but unless you speak fluent Spanish and/or have a bilingual doctor "on retainer" that's an unrealistic option in most parts of the country. The health care system is just too overburdened and poorly funded (as shown by the country's disastrous response to COVID). Bottom line: if you can't afford to self-insure you don't belong down there long-term.

Many expats do keep their Medicare but there, too, one has to have a place to stay in the U.S., friends or family to help out and an ongoing relationship with a doctor or clinic in order to make emergency care a viable option - along with a plan to deal with emergencies (e.g. an auto accident or heart attack) that would have to be addressed on the spot in Mexico.

Just as an FYI for those who may be interested, long-term care places have been a booming business in all of the popular expat havens in Mexico for years and I expect that trend to continue. At Lake Chapala alone there are at least 10 places where one can pay $1200-1400 a month for room and board with nursing care and physicians on staff, all while enjoying the lake's near-perfect climate. Beats the heck out of paying 4-5 times that price to be in a dreary nursing home. in the U.S., IMHO.

Better health care infrastructure in Costa Rica and Panama from what I hear from friends living in those places and of course those who have the option living in EU countries and either paying into their systems or affordable private insurance are the most fortunate of all, though there again the need for fluency in the local language and successful adaptation and acceptance by the culture are formidable challenges that often aren't fully thought through by prospective expats.
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Old 04-03-2021, 10:54 AM   #37
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A good friend has parents who have lived in Mexico for 25 years of self-insurance (from Washington State). They self-insure and have been relatively healthy.

But now their kids are worried going forward. And the parents are adamant about staying. They no longer qualify for Mexican government insurance ( application must be before age 70/75). They do go back to,the kids place for three months every summer.

Another couple survived the wife having cancer and total costs were $5000. But they have moved north just in case.

I am self-insuring for 7 months while here because travel insurance was going to be C$25000! The cost of "living".
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Old 04-03-2021, 12:31 PM   #38
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snip
The Swiss feel that they should be able to conduct some large cash business transactions without the government having access to an electronic record of it.

snip

I'm about 11 years removed from my (corporate) ex-pat days in Switzerland, but I still remember having to go to the Mercedes dealer with the entire down payment in a big pile of cash. It was just crazy!



For the others on health care, in France, for long term residents you become part of the national health care system after 90 days (and must then formally apply). Retirees receiving a public/private pension/SS do not get charged. People then often purchase low cost top-up insurance to cover the gaps. However, to get the visa in the first place does require a health check up.



AARO (Association of Americans Resident Overseas) does offer ex-pat health insurance (but with conditions/approval regarding pre-existing conditions) and the premiums are listed on the website (for planning purposes). There are lower cost programs available; a friend in the Philippines has one of these as well.
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Old 04-06-2021, 03:59 PM   #39
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For me, Australia in retirement is a relatively low tax environment, with excellent health care and access to free universal health care. My base in Australia is sub tropical climate so no cold winters etc.
Wow, very good information!

Your input is valuable and makes sense. From one video watched a while ago, Australia also is very safe. The video asked random people about the last gun violence they remember in Australia and most of them could not remember it or it was a LONG time ago. Also, great to hear about them having very good universal health care.

The main "gripe" on retiring in Australia is that it might not be safe to leave. Did you ever see the show Lost? That was all based around a plane leaving Australia for the USA. Well, maybe we'd have to travel the "long way" to the USA, hahaha.

I've read/watched videos on how great Portugal is for retirement (costs/healthcare/location to many other great countries) and did not do much more research due to having multiple years until then.

Pre-step, increase retirement/investment accounts/win lotto (joking about one of them!)
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Old 04-06-2021, 04:21 PM   #40
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I've traveled all over the world and done a lot of international business working for an international company. Have a lot of friends all over the world.

Don't think I know anyone that is US citizen and permanently moved/retired overseas. Yet dozens, maybe hundreds people I know that came to US for school and stayed, or transferred here with Megacorp and stayed, or are trying to get here.

Everyone needs to come to their own conclusions. Maybe I only know boring people.

Have a couple buddies that did an "international sampler" - subletting an apartment for 2-3 months in different countries.

When travel gets back to normal, I'd like to do a half-dozen of these sublets.

But I can't see moving permanently - especially with kids, grandkids here. If you have to for cost reasons - to retire 10 years earlier than you would in USA - I get that.
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