Fully aware that I tend to take on a new project or a new pastime by diving head-first into it, only to have it subside — if not die out completely — after a while, I’m now spending some time researching my future.
I recently received a statement from the Social Security Administration (SSA) reminding me I should make my annual review of my statement and projections for what I expect to earn once I reach retirement age.
A few years ago, I would have shrugged off the idea of retiring. Or of even being near retirement age. But that was then, this is now. The fact is, I’m 68 — soon to be 69 — and the way things are going politically, economically, and culturally has gotten me very concerned. There is an election coming up this November that may be the most important in my lifetime; the outcome of that could really push me into going. Or staying.
Going. To this point, I have pretty much set myself to staying put. I bought my home three years ago, and I like it a lot. It’s in a nice neighborhood, has all the amenities I want, and is a 30 minute drive away from my daughter and grandkids. But, calculating realistically, my retirement savings, stocks and Social Security will put me into a new “quality of life” category. My needs aren’t great, but the cost of living when my regular paycheck stops may be too high to keep me here.
So, where to? That’s what I’ve been researching. I love to travel, as I’ve documented here many times. Could I move to another country and live comfortably there? Thanks to the Internet, I can do all the research I want from the comfort of my sofa!
One of the best sites I’ve found, and visit often is International Living. This may be the granddaddy of ex-patriate (expat) living, since it’s been around since 1979. Today, it’s a pretty data-rich web site that offers a subscription service on top of its free articles. I may take advantage after some more investigation. I started out with a couple of places in mind, but only one I’ve been to and the other is likely too expensive to live on a pension: Costa Rica and Austria. Surprisingly, though, some other countries have popped up that I want to look into further. They are
- Portugal. This seems to take the top spot every year for expat retirement living.
- Panama. With the U. S. Dollar as its currency and ties to the U. S., this ranks high.
- Costa Rica. Beach living or mountain living. It’s all there, and it’s al Pura Vida.
- Malta. European/Mediterranean. I know little about Malta, but its location is gravy!
- Belize. English is the official language (it was formerly British Honduras). I didn’t see any expat communities when I was there, but I know they are in off-the-main-road settlements.
What about staying in the U. S? Well, once again, the November election might have a big influence there. One site, Best Places To Live has a quiz that you can enter your likes and dislikes, and it will suggest locales that have the specifics you’ve entered. Three times, in my limited experience with the site, has Hot Springs, Arkansas been the result. It even shows real estate listings, and some of the homes there going for less than half what my home costs, look quite nice.
I don’t have to make that decision right now. But the SSA says I have to start taking distribution of my allocation when I turn 70. Better to start planning now, right?