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Sarah Booth of Panama Holiday Homes &  Buyer's Consultant with My Panama Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
In a word, the thing you should be most concerned about regarding retiring or moving abroad is EXPECTATIONS. If you avoid having them you'll be pleasantly surprised by so many things and less annoyed by other things (punctuality etc). I believe that when people retire or move abroad for the right reasons, they live happy, interesting and fulfilling lives. I know a few people who have moved overseas to "escape". It's one thing to re-invent yourself and that's fantastic, but just be wary about your reasons for this move. Wherever you go, there you are :)
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lars forsberg of Longboat Retirement – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
There are several things to be concerned about when considering retiring abroad.
 
The most important consideration should probably be safety and security.  Is the place you are considering safe?  What is the crime rate?  Do the locals dislike your country or your country's politics?  Is there violence against foreigners?  Is it a war zone?  What does the local government look like?  Is it a police state?
 
After safety you should look at economics.  Can I afford to retire here?  What will it cost for housing, food, and the lifestyle I desire?  Is it very expensive?
 
At the other end of the spectrum, if it is a cheap place, why is it cheap?  Is there infrastructure, and if so, is it reliable?  Is there a police force of any kind?  How are the roads?  Can you get there reliably, and can you get out if you need to?
 
After you've decided that a location is safe and affordable, ask yourself if this is a place where you could spend a lot of time.  What kind of things are there to do?  Are there other people around that would be fun to spend time with?  Will you get bored?
 
When you've found a place that checks all the right boxes and you are excited about the possibilities of a new adventure, many people recommend that you go there and rent for a few months to "try the place on."  This seems like good advice.
 
Keep an open mind, an open heart, and stay flexible.  You are not in Kansas anymore.
Zach Smith of Anywhere – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Whether or not you are satisfied with your decision after one year, two years, three years, four years, five years, and so on. You really have to know yourself and you really have to know the community in which you are going to choose to live in order to ensure that you’re in it for either the long term or enough time that made the effort worth it. Maybe it’s not permanent. You could decide to stay for only three to five years but the point is to choose the right location so you feel that you are able to achieve that goal that you have for yourself.
 
In order to make that happen, it is best to spend time reading up on the different cultural dynamics, hearing stories from other expats, and actually spending time in two to three locations probably for three weeks to a month, or maybe more. It is nice to really get into a rhythm before making that choice to move. I think it would be rather naïve, and most likely, a catastrophic mistake to show up and buy a place after being there for only three to four days. You can have a feeling that this place feels right after a few days but you really need to test that feeling out and that means doing your due diligence by spending three weeks to a month there. Make new friends in the area and try to figure out what part of the town you could imagine yourself living in. You have to figure out what your routine might be if you lived in that certain place. Going through that testing phase, I think, is a requirement in order to make sure that the decision you are going to make is based on sound judgment.
Ross of Abroad We Go – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Native Quechua family in Ecuador – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIn retiring abroad, you should be more concerned about choosing a place that you truly love. There are so many different places and different ways of living, and it’s very important that before anyone makes that big decision to plunge in, he or she should explore the place a little bit. 
 
I don’t see myself staying put in one country for five or ten years. I see myself throughout my retirement for example spending six months in Panama and another six months in Ecuador. When retiring abroad, it’s important to experience the different cultures. Personally, I like the idea of experiencing as many cultures as I can. 
 
(Native Quechua family in Ecuador, pictured.)
Robert Irvin of The Oaks Tamarindo Condominiums-- Costa Rica – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The Oaks Tamarindo pool at night, Costa Rica – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingMany of the things that you should be most concerned about in retiring abroad will depend on your age. For example, if you are 65 years old or older and are retiring abroad, then you definitely should be concerned about health care because you’re going to be moving from one health care system to another.
 
It’s common knowledge that Medicare does not apply to procedures or expenses that are incurred outside of the United States, so if you’re going to take advantage of Medicare, you’re going to have to take a plane back to the United States.
 
On the other hand, most countries, including Costa Rica (where I live), have systems of health care that are just as good as the health care in the United States, but are a lot cheaper. These health care systems include most medical treatments, procedures and pieces of equipment that are not cutting edge.
 
Out of pocket charges abroad are typically a quarter to a third cheaper than they are in the United States. For example, I have a Cuban born and trained doctor where I live here in Tamarindo, Costa Rica who makes house calls for about US $36 (20,000 colón) and he is as good as, if not better, than any doctor I’ve seen in Miami, Florida. Most of the doctors I’ve seen in Miami were also Cuban doctors.
 
I’m paying the charges of seeing a doctor in Tamarindo out-of-pocket, but these out-of-pocket charges are most likely less than what the deductible of my health insurance the United States, and cheaper than most procedures there. This is another thing to be concerned about.
 
In Costa Rica, there is a comprehensive system of health care that you can typically join for about $100 per month. This membership has the same coverage as the Medicare in the United States, and I have seen some people take advantage of this.
 
If you’re retiring while under 65 years old and are not eligible for Medicare, then the positives of the healthcare system here in Costa Rica far outweigh the negatives. This is because here in Costa Rica, you can buy private health insurance policies that will be cheaper than they would cost in the United States, and for good reason, because the out-of-pocket health care costs are much cheaper. For example, my Costa Rican wife of six years had to have a procedure where they fused two discs on her neck. In the United States, this procedure would have cost around $40,000. Here in Costa Rica, hospital charges and top-notch doctor fees with excellent results cost around $12,000 in total. That’s an absolute savings.
 
I don’t bother with private health insurance because I’m over 65 years old, but if I did, I’m sure that the insurance cost would have been much lower than what it is in the States.
 
I know a retired contractor from the United States who developed COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), a condition that requires taking medications daily.  One of the main reasons this retired contractor moved to and became a resident of Costa Rica was to join to socialized medicine system here in Costa Rica. Through this socialized medicine system, all his medications cost him only $100 a month. That means he is saving thousands of dollars a month for medicine compared to what he was paying in the United States.
 
For those who are under 65 years old, and for those who are dealing with treatments that are not typically covered by insurance, such as dental procedures that only cost 1/4 - 1/3 of what they would normally cost in the United States, this is very attractive.
 
The need for private health insurance depends on the person’s age. As an example, it doesn’t bother me not having private health insurance because I’m over 65 years old, and it’s only a $300 plane ride from here to Miami, where I’m from, and where I still have all my connections. I’ve got the best of both worlds- I’ve got comprehensive medical care in the United States through Medicare, a Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Plan B, and here in Costa Rica, I’m paying a lot less out of pocket, and I need to see a doctor a lot less than when I was in the United States.
 
Having this kind of freedom with health care provides me with lifestyle benefits- there’s less stress, my blood pressure is not a problem, and if I avoid fast food joints, diet is not a problem for me, either.
 
(The Oaks Tamarindo pool at night, Costa Rica, pictured.)
John Ohe of Hola Expat Tax Services – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Google + Icon – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingOne of the things to be concerned about when retiring overseas is when you have a lot of immediate and extended family who are still in the United States and if you spend a lot of time with your family, moving abroad will make the family interaction a lot more difficult. 
 
There is a lot more technology nowadays such as Skype or getting on a plane, depending on where you are, is always a possibility. However, the actual physical meetings with family members are a lot more difficult when you live abroad. They can come visit you or you can go visit them, but the frequency with which you can interact with family members does take a hit when you move abroad. 
 
The second thing to be concerned about when moving abroad is that without a lot of planning, the initial transition itself could be quite difficult. If you're not an open-minded person, moving abroad could be quite difficult because of language barriers. Also, the different types and levels of infrastructure could vary among countries. You may not have the comfort level you may have had in the US wherever you're going. You have to build a new community of friends who you're going to interact with locally, which you're going to have to build from scratch.
 
The third concern has to deal with all the start-up necessities of not only moving homes, but moving to an entire different country where you have different systematic issues that you must deal with.  
By Edgington – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Flower festival in Medellin, Columbia – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingLearning about permanent residency, and obtaining permission to stay in the country. Rules change all the time. Don't assume anything. Regardless of the cost, a good legal counselor is a must. Also, make sure the documents you'll need are in order before you leave home. It can be an expensive trip back to acquire them. Plus, understand the rules in place about those documents. How long are they good for? Is a notary seal sufficient, or do they need an apostille? How many copies, and does the country need originals? Bottom line: don't ever assume anything. Check with those who've been there, so you know the right questions to ask. Assumptions get very expensive.
 
BE Medellin
(Flower festival in Medellin, Columbia, pictured.)
John Gilbert of PanamaKeys – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Gilbert children on the beach, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingRetiring abroad always has significant challenges and risks that the person looking at moving abroad has to mitigate. For example, is your income going to be taxed in the country that you’re going to move to? How does the country you’re moving from tax the money if you don’t live in the country where you earned it?
 
Being an American citizen in Panama, which has a territorial tax system, what you’ll find in Panama depends on what your income hurdles are. This means that the money that you earned from the United States is never going to be taxed the first cent in Panama, and if you don’t live in the United States, your first $100,000-plus of earnings in the United States isn’t going to be taxed.
 
There’s an advantageous living situation for an American citizen in Panama to enjoy without the burden of cumbersome United States taxes. That’s the overwhelming reason why many of the expats from the United States choose to live here in Panama, along with the food, and the rental and utility cost generally being at a par or much lower than in the United States. 
 
Another reason why someone would want to be hesitant in retiring abroad is the question of safety in the country that they’re looking at. Is the country safe for the retiree? There are many choices that you can make when moving abroad- there’s Europe, South America, Central America, and Asia. 
 
What I found here in Panama was a nice mixture of relative safety, not feeling like someone lives right on top of me all the time, feeling easy about going through American-style roads, feeling good that I can turn on the tap and drink the water out of it, being able to go to the grocery store and find things that I enjoy eating, and being able to go to the hardware store and find name brands that I enjoy using. For me here living in the Chiriqui Highlands, there’s also going into David and shopping for new name brand cars that I am familiar with and understand. These are all the reasons I was able to move to Panama and still feel like, in many ways, I still got to experience the American culture.  
 
(Gilbert children on a black sand beach, Panama, pictured.)
Nelson Vega of Panasurance – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
One of the main things to be concerned about when retiring abroad (among other things) is health insurance. Often the health systems abroad are not even similar to those of your own country. However, with Latin America, specially Panama, as hot spots to retire, the change in public and private health has been huge over the last years. Panama is a medical tourism destination, and many health insurance companies now offer great plans for the best hospitals in Panama while also including options to be covered back at your home country or for when you travel as well.
 
After you get health insurance covered, then you will need to worry about adjusting to language, different customs of the new city or town where you are going to move, things to do, etc. In the end the discovery of all those new things is what will make moving abroad exciting, and there will always be a way to make the most of it.
Lissy Lezcano  of Lissy Lezcano Attorney & Mediator – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I think that, when retiring abroad, you should be most concerned about the culture, the area and the language.  You need to know that every country is different and with its own rules.  For example, in Panama things take more time than in North America and you need to be patient.
 
Also, make certain that you have a realistic budget.  Some people think they can come to Panama and live on $500 per month, but they don't do enough research and this is no longer true.  Make certain that you know what things really cost.
 
I think you should move to the place you're considering for a couple of months and try it or you will never know.
 
Take Care, wish you the best!!!
Lourdes Miranda Beiro of Miranda&Contreras Law Offices – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
What you should be most concerned about retiring abroad is to obtain a permanent residency in the country.
 
You should consider the residency visa options and  requirements of the country and determine if you would qualify for one of them. 
 
Panama, as most countries, has different programs, so your visa program choice will depend on your intentions (recreational, investment, retirement, etc.).  

Also one of the most important considerations when you retire abroad is to find experienced professionals who have good references. This advice applies to everything from an attorney to a gardener.  This will save you from inconveniences and will let you feel more relaxed in your relocation.
Karyn Saunders of Inside Panama Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
When looking for a new home abroad there are a few things to consider but the two most important are safety and the medical system.  Panama boasts a very strong North American standard medical system that is affordable and reliable.  As a Canadian we are not used to paying out of pocket but when my physical is $30 and my yearly mammogram is $70 we opted for only emergency medical insurance.  We have lived in Panama for almost 5 years and our concern for our safety is less than it was in North America.  We feel safe and of course take the normal steps of locking our doors and checking out car doors before going into the store.
Harry Hunt of ownboquete – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
First of all, don't be scared.  I know it's a foreign country and everything is a little bit different, but in Panama at least nobody is going to attack you or assault you at least in Boquete and actually most of the interior and even Panama City is pretty safe with the possible exception of Chorillo or some of the rougher parts of town late at night. Most Panamanians are God fearing Christians and very non-confrontational, so you have a better chance of being killed by an American than a Panamanian and I personally feel you are most at risk dealing with a lawyer here than at any other time. I only know two or three lawyers that I really trust and they are all women.
 
Second of all, most expat communities are like a college mixer where everybody is new, nobody was born here and everyone is a little unsure and uncertain about things and you find some people who become your friends and some you may not like that much. It might be better not to get too drunk and insult everybody, but almost any and every behavior happens and we seem to be pretty tolerant in our old and middle age.
 
There are all kinds of cool and experienced people in Panama so just relax and be nice and if you listen carefully you will be able to pick someone that will be a good friend and you may join some group that does something like castrate dogs.  As a matter of fact there is a group in Boquete that has spayed and neutered over 5,000 dogs and we don't have starving dogs and packs of violent dogs roaming the streets and the Panamanians that thought we were all nuts when this all started years ago now see the benefits and are bringing their dogs and cats to the clinics held on the last weekend of the month.
 
Living in Panama is easy, there are some differences, but don't worry about a traffic stop where some of the police carry machine guns.  Just show them your passport and don't act like an idiot and smile too much. Just be respectful, treat the officer as you would a strange policeman in America and if you haven't done anything wrong you will be driving down the road in no time. If you don't have your passport or were speeding the officer might suggest you settle the matter by paying the fine to him. This used to happen a lot more frequently and everyone used to carry $5 to buy some instant justice on the side of the road.  These days you usually get a ticket that the policeman writes on his cell phone and you have thirty days to pay it in the district you are cited in.
 
Try to be tolerant and understanding.  You are in a country that is changing rapidly.  Most people took the bus a few years ago and now almost everybody drives even if they have never heard of driver education or rules of the road. Just remember, any car can do anything at any time. Be prepared, keep your eyes open and expect the unexpected.
 
I have lived here for ten years now and survived quite nicely.  Try to behave, be nice and be cool and when you are confronted with something totally different from what you are used to try and understand that this is their country and fifty years ago it was probably no different in America. If possible don't do anything you are going to regret or be ashamed of tomorrow. Most of all have fun and make some memories that you will enjoy sharing with friends and family back in the States.
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Most of the time when people consider moving abroad to retire, they have a desire for a new and happy life, and probably an adjustment to their budget.  These desires bring about all kinds of changes for which you should be prepared, and do your homework, before you move.
 
You should ask yourself these questions: "Is that what I really want to do?" and "Am I ready for that challenge and change in my life"?  Then, visit the country you are considering moving to several times, study their culture, and talk to people, expats as well as locals.   And then, not only after you are absolutely sure those changes will make you happy, then, make your decision.  See if the reason you are considering moving meets your expectations.
 
General things to be concerned about in a new country would be:  Am I ready to learn a new language, adapt to local customary life, enjoy new things and people,  place myself and accommodate  to different weather?  If the answer is YES... GO FOR IT, and enjoy your retirement abroad, without any concerns.
Alan Filliger of Alana la Casa del Arte – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I think the most important things to be concerned about regarding retiring abroad is your honesty in answering the question:  Can I handle change.  When you decide to retire abroad there will be many changes in your life. 
 
You may not see your family and old friends as much; you will need to get used to a different pace of life; it will take time to figure things out, meet new friends, locate stuff you need, get things done (and this can have a tendency to drive you nuts).
 
A new friend who just moved to Panama in my community is frustrated because it is much harder to get things done in Panama than back home in Canada.  The language is different, the "manana lifestyle" is all present and basically things just move much slower here than in North America ..... but for me this is great.  I needed to learn how to slow down, smell the roses and relax.  Now after living in Panama for roughly seven years I have made great progress.
 
Lola Braxton of Services Toby – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
One of the contributors on this page wrote "YOU" as being one of the concerns. And he is so correct. When I moved here 25 years ago, my concern was adjusting to their customs, language and food. Oh, and most definitely being very patient. Things don´t happen as fast as we would like,as if we were in the USA,but then things changed. Especially when I became ill thinking I didn´t speak enough of the language to get me through this at one time. But, I found in many places the doctors do speak English and the healthcare was just great. Although, I always knew if I moved to another country I needed to try to accustom myself to their customs and live life the fullest. Just loving everything....
 
Allen Rosen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The number 1 challenge you will encounter if you retire overseas is ...... you. That's right, you. You will arrive in your new country. You will find things you like and you will find things you don't like. Maybe things that drive you crazy. You can pull your hair out at these things.Or you can spend all day complaining to other expats. Or you can pack your bags and go back to your old county. Or .... you can decide to adapt to your new country and its different customs and habits.
 
The point is: it's about you, not them. It's about whether you are the sort of person who is flexible enough to adapt to a new culture. This will be your greatest challenge moving overseas and the issue you should be most concerned about.
 
Tom Zachystal of IAM – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
There are a number of financial planning issues people face that are unique to retiring abroad as compared to retiring in your home country:
  • If your retirement savings are held in your home country they may be denominated in a different currency from that in which you will spend. This can lead to considerable currency risk. As an example, consider that the Euro has strengthened by 30% vs. the USD over the last decade or so.
  • Inflation rates are generally higher in developing countries than developed countries. So if you plan your retirement expenses using a 2.5% or 3% inflation rate but move to, say, Mexico, where inflation is typically around 5%+, your savings may not support your lifestyle throughout retirement.
  • You may not be able to keep the bank or retirement accounts you now have in your home country once you are no longer a resident. This is especially an issue for Americans moving abroad since many US financial firms no longer will deal with non-US residents.
     

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