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Should You Retire Abroad? It's a Massive Decision
By Rhiannon Davies 

The new year often prompts many of us to start thinking of ways we can change our lives for the better. For some of us, a new year's resolution to quit smoking, lose weight or just be nicer to the people around us is sufficient(!), but for others the change has to be bigger, better, more significant and longer lasting!

If you're personally wondering about ways you can change your life for the better in 2010, perhaps you're contemplating a retirement overseas. After all, you could perhaps find a better way of life, an improved climate or a place where your savings will take you far further in life and offer you a higher standard of living if you move abroad...

But, should you retire abroad? Is it the right thing for you personally to do? It's a massive decision that many people face every single year. If you're currently working out your best options, perhaps the following 5 considerations will enable you to best determine whether you should indeed move overseas and explore pastures new, or whether you'd be happier staying put, at least for now...

1) What About Your Finances? - The number one reason why those who relocate abroad decide to repatriate and return home is a financial one. If you don't sort your money out before you go you can quickly and easily fall into a trap where everything around you becomes too expensive and you haven't got the savings in place to support you for the long-term. Before you even think about moving abroad therefore, you have to have a cold, long, hard and objective look at your money situation and determine whether you can comfortably afford to move abroad. Relocating costs money, there are no two ways about it. What's more, a fluctuation in a currency's value can leave you suffering if you haven't protected against it. If you work hard on money matters before you go, you can secure your retirement abroad - but if you fail to plan, you'll be risking a lot.

2) What About Your Family? - Do you have family that you're emotionally close to, perhaps you have children and grandchildren who still really count on you for support and guidance. Can you leave them behind with no serious regrets if you move abroad? Maybe your family will come with you - or perhaps they will plan to visit often. If the latter is true for you, you will need to think about the affordability of accessibility of where you're thinking about living overseas. Talk to your family about your plans and ask them to think about the options of your retirement abroad from both your point of view and their own. You may get a broader perspective enabling you to determine whether it is indeed right for you to go, or better for you to stay.

3) What About Your Friends? - When you relocate abroad you will be without your closest friends, and it may well take some time for you to forge new friendships. This is a reality you need to get to grips with. Those who are prepared for facing the new life alone and getting on with establishing a new lifestyle alone as well, do far better than those who suddenly realise they have cast themselves adrift when they relocate overseas. There are no two ways about it, you will make new friends - and your old friends will continue to love and support you - but it can take time to establish the supportive relationships you need in life once you relocate. Be prepared and you'll likely be ok!

4) What About Your Home? - Deciding whether you should sell your home and buy abroad is a massive part of working out whether you should retire abroad and how you can go about making an overseas retirement a reality. Maybe you live in a fabulous house now and would have to sell it to afford a relocation - would you miss your home? Can you buy or even rent a decent house overseas because your home comfort will be essential to you if you want to settle in well to your new life abroad. You need to look at what it's like to buy overseas, or whether renting a home until you determine whether you really want to stay overseas is a better option for you. What's more, homes are great assets but they are very hard to sell sometimes which can make the process of relocation slower if you need to sell and/or buy a house. Think hard about your housing options and don't rush any decisions.

5) What About Your Health? - Finally, but perhaps critically, you need to very carefully examine the quality and availability of healthcare abroad because in many nations there are long waiting lists for treatment for example. In other countries you may not get the sort of social care and support you'd have in your own home nation, and as you get older and older, you never know what sorts of help and care you will need in life. On top of all of this is the concern that healthcare can cost a lot of money. Is there an insurance you can buy to protect your health care needs long-term? Look carefully at all of these aspects before you commit to a relocation - because without your health, you have nothing.

Having thought about your own personal situation from these 5 key and critical points of consideration, hopefully you will be in a more confident and well informed position to make the right decision about whether an overseas retirement is right for you...

Rhiannon Davies is an expert in the provision of advice and support to those planning a new life abroad, particularly in retirement