For some people retirement is a time to slow down, take stock, and simply enjoy not having to suffer the nine-to-five grind every day. For others it’s an opportunity to fulfill long held ambitions and head overseas on a great adventure. If you’re caught in two minds about what sort of life you want when you wave goodbye to your work commitments, here are seven reasons to retire abroad. (See also: 9 Things to Know Before Retiring Abroad)
1. Reduced cost of living
The U.S. is ranked by Numbeo.com as one of the top 25 most expensive countries in the world in terms of cost of living. That means there is a huge number of alternative countries where you could potentially reduce your living costs, and in many instances quite drastically. A 2015 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office says that “most households approaching retirement have low savings,” meaning that many Americans could struggle in retirement.
Perhaps you’re among those concerned about the level of your savings as you head into retirement. But even if you’re not, moving abroad to a country with a lower cost of living could be a good way to make your savings stretch. For as little as $1,000 a month you could afford a comfortable retirement in a number of exciting countries. (See also: 5 Countries Where You Can Retire for $1,000 a Month)
2. Higher standard of living
Along with a decrease in expenses, moving abroad could also bring you a higher standard of living than you’d achieve by staying in the U.S. Perhaps you dream of living by the beach, having help around the house, pursuing a pricey hobby, or being able to afford private nursing as you grow older. These may not necessarily be things you’d be able to afford at home, but could well be within your reach by moving abroad.
Getting more for less is one of the main reasons many retirees decide to take the plunge and emigrate. Depending on the country you choose, things you might otherwise consider to be luxuries could become part of your everyday life. (See also: Retire for Half the Cost in These 5 Countries)
As an example, I’m currently living in Koh Samui, Thailand. Just the other day I spent $10 on a wonderful one-hour massage on the beach and I had a delicious organic meal at a beautiful yoga retreat for just $11. These types of experiences would have cost me a lot more in the U.S.
3. Better weather
A driving factor for a lot of retirees who decide to settle abroad is the promise of better weather in other countries. For many, people a cold climate and dreary weather are harder to cope with as they get older. There are plenty of places with tropical climates where you can expect blue skies and consistent heat, regardless of the month.
Being able to say goodbye to long, hard winters and swap heavy overcoats for shorts and T-shirts is a fantasy that appeals to many of us. More sunshine doesn’t just mean a permanent tan; it can also have a positive effect on your quality of life by allowing you to do more outdoor activities throughout the year. (See also: How to Choose the Perfect Country to Retire In)
4. Cheaper health care
As we get older, the price and quality of medical services available to us naturally becomes a bigger concern. The cost of health care in the U.S. can be so expensive, it can drive you into medical debt. Many overseas retirement hot spots have excellent, affordable health care systems that are easily accessible. There are various options for how to pay for health care when you’re abroad, and, depending on your circumstances, each has benefits and drawbacks.
An international medical insurance policy is often the safest bet, as it provides comprehensive international coverage. This is ideal if you plan to travel. However, be aware that these policies often don’t include treatments back in the U.S. so it’s unlikely you’ll be covered during visits home. Single country medical policies are available for if you’re planning on staying solely in your chosen country and not traveling abroad.
5. To avoid regrets
Nobody wants to look back on their life and have regrets over the things they wish they had done, but never managed to. As a retiree you’ve most likely worked hard over the course of your career and potentially even sacrificed some of the aspirations that you had when you were younger.
It’s never too late to build the life of your dreams, and rest assured you won’t be alone in heading overseas to do just that. Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from fulfilling those objectives in your golden years. (See also: 6 Ways Travel in Retirement Keeps You Young)
6. To slow down the aging process
Retirement abroad is the perfect time to welcome new challenges and take advantage of the exciting opportunities that come your way. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests that mental stimulation can help stave off mental decline associated with aging and help build new brain cells in the process. Learning about a new culture, exposing yourself to different experiences, and taking up a new language are all great ways to exercise the brain. (See also: 5 Ways Science Says Travel is Good For Your Health)
7. For the adventure
No one knows exactly how retiring abroad will turn out, but one thing is for sure: It will be a great adventure. It will give you the opportunity to start afresh and live the life that you’ve always dreamed of. With all of the free time you’ll have, the opportunities to travel, explore, and meet new people from a new culture are endless.
Experience the different cuisine, take in unfamiliar scenery, and welcome the chances that arise with open arms. You might find your entire outlook on life changed, your opinions challenged, and preconceptions dashed. Retiring abroad could be the best thing you ever do. (See also: 5 Countries That Welcome American Retirees)