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Pattaya Daily News

30 June 2010 :: 15:06:23 pm 27820

Retirement; Stay at Home or Live Abroad

People are still selling off their homes or taking out Equity Release (an advance on the value of their home) and investing on properties abroad to which they will eventually retire. Some will purchase a small property abroad to spend most of their time there as residential tourists, using the rest of their money to buy something smaller in their homeland.
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Much of the plans for retiring abroad will depend on the circumstances and health of the individual. The world is your oyster and there are many offers worldwide enticing Europeans to purchase in the sun, but it is essential to consider the future as it can turn sour due to ill health, death, inflation, pensions and worst conflict within the country’s politics. All these things could send you running back home. There have been many cases where people have become stranded abroad with dwindling incomes, homes they can no longer afford to keep, lack of insurance and in some cases finding their selves suddenly alone.

For those who have thought and planned ahead long before retirement age, these problems are minimal, but for those who have waited till they have already retired things can be so much more different and difficult. Retiring abroad needs early and in depth planning before jumping the gun. Open your eyes and remain clear sighted about the move as it will probably be the biggest decision of your life. It can be the most exhilarating adventure, but you can’t avoid the facts that there are serious choices to be made, deciding what you will have to give up. Being flippant and not thinking things through carefully will guarantee future problems.

If you choose a country that is not English speaking, you will have the problem of communication when and if you need a plumber, doctor or any other service. Learning a new language can be a challenge and fun for some, but others may find things difficult and disheartening. When buying a home abroad do not forget there is more than just the purchase price to consider. You will have legal expenses, stamp duty, notary fees, registration fees and local taxes as well as surveyors and lawyers and the cost of a will. If you die whilst abroad without a will, things can be extra difficult for those you’ve left behind. On top of all this you then have the cost of removals, unless you plan on buying all new once out in your new home, remembering that not all electrical item will work abroad.

Once you have decided you want to move abroad when you’ve retired, you then have to ask yourself why you want to do this. Perhaps you have family and friends already there or maybe you think the warmer drier climate may be healthier for you. Would moving abroad be financially beneficial to you? If the decision is to move to a European country, consider the expense as things have risen in price since everyone turned to the Euro. The biggest mistake one could make is to move to a country before having previously visited it. After choosing a country, it is essential to visit a few times before finally putting down roots. It is important to get the feel of the place, see if you get bored from doing nothing all day, see how easy it is to obtain such things as books, films etc in your own language. Boredom is a terrible thing.

Talk to expats who have already made the move, they can be a wonderful source of information. If after all this you are still not sure, then rent out your property back home and use the money for tasting the life of various countries before making that big decision that may turn out to be wrong. There are approximately 52 countries around the world that has attracted the attention of retirees, though not all may be suitable. Because of the rise in prices, properties in your homeland should give you enough return if sold and if you are one of those been lucky enough to be able to retire at the age of 55, you would be young enough to move on should your chosen county not be totally suitable.

For anyone who is 70 years or over, or with a medical condition, it would be sensible to consider a European country or Florida. There are 25 member countries of the European Union with many waiting to join. Being in an EU country would be a better choice for the older person should anything major happen. It is worth remembering, those living in EU countries have a right to medical care, so if planning to retire to another EU country then do not forget to apply for the European Health Insurance Card which is available on line. Any one choosing to live in a neighboring EU country has the right to do so without having to go through the procedure of changing money. Travelling to Europe has been simplified thanks to the Euro tunnel.

Spain is a very popular place for retiring with its great climate and reasonable cost of living. Its medical facilities have improved with a strong presence for Age Concern. Retiring to France is completely different as there are not the same residential developments that cater for foreigners as in Spain. Many retirees start with a small home in the country surrounded by land, with a swimming pool. The cost of property is continuously on the rise in addition to the cost of pool maintenance and gardening. Most villages in France have a market which makes it easy to shop and living in a village gives you more contact.

Italy follows France as it has retirement homes for their own, but little for the foreigner, especially a non EU citizen. Many non Italians have bought homes in Italy, but have been younger than the general retirees. These people have usually been healthy and are able to afford to have a carer should their health deteriorate. Portugal is has taken over Spain with more retirement complexes being built by overseas companies. In addition to this there are more sheltered housing projects for those over 70 years. The places are well equipped with amenities such as nursing homes and on site doctors. Portugal has five different regions with the south becoming more popular with tourists and residents. Certain properties have becoming popular around the capital of Lisbon, but Alentejo is hot and dry and has the real old fashioned Mediterranean attitude, with long siestas and slow flow of life.

Florida would be a good choice for many people when it comes to owning a retirement property as there are no restrictions on buying holiday homes. The US does not have a retirement visa that allows for long term residence, but it is possible to apply for a green card which is a permanent residence card and gives the holder the right to live and work in the US. There is no guarantee that a person will be automatically granted a green card as there are many people in line for it. Another method of applying for the green card is if you have a family member already living there or you have employment to go to. The nearest thing to a retirement visa is an E Visa. The holder will be given the right to stay in the US while they are staring a business as it is more flexible for tax purposes. Purchasing a home in the US may be considered as starting a business, but whatever you decide, you must seek legal advice.

When people are thinking of retirement, not many consider Mexico. It is the back yard for most Americans and Canadians and the Mexicans speak English, which makes it easier for the English speaking retirees. The country has a wide variety of climates with developed areas and the pace of life is relaxed. Fresh produce is inexpensive and of excellent quality. The applicants must be 50 years or older and the government require that they have a proven fixed income of 400 times the daily minimum salary.

Asia may be another area to consider such as Malaysia that has a package deal involving a “second home project”. That has a package deal involving a “second home project”. This involves purchasing a home at seriously low prices and living there indefinitely. A tax free offer on new cars is offered as an incentive to retire there and you will find an excellent ex-pat community. Condos’ are amazingly low priced and very spacious, all with a maids’ room and facilities. The maid is extra, but only a minor cost. Service charges are minimal and there are very few problems concerning visas.

There is no straight answer to how much a person would need to live abroad as much depends on a number of factors such as country, climate, expenses, cost of living and car. Long term planning is essential.

Equity Release is one way to obtain money to purchase a home abroad. This means a company will advance part of your property’s value in return for a share of the proceeds when the owner dies. In short, this means the owner can still keep the house until he or she dies. This may be an ideal solution for raising the needed cash.

However, there may be terms that vary from one company to another, with a minimum age of 55-60 years and you must own the property.

Lastly, what if once you have moved abroad you don’t like it? What if your circumstances change and you need to return? All circumstances vary and so it is important to seek professional advice before you commit. Ensure you enjoy your retirement after all your planning.

Story by : Sarah Goldman

Photo : Internet   Category : Society