Kathleen Peddicord: "Moving to a new country in retirement can be the biggest adventure of your life."
“I’m so glad to be livin’ in the USA,” Chuck Berry famously sang, but retiring overseas is becoming an attractive retirement option for an increasing number of Americans concerned with the stagnant economy.
Young people especially express the most interest, according to a recent investor survey conducted by Millionaire Corner. More than one-third of this age group said they are considering international living in retirement. The same is true for 27 percent of investors in their 40s.
What was once the province of struggling artists or society dropouts is becoming a more mainstream notion, said Kathleen Peddicord, founder and publisher of Live and Invest Overseas and author of How to Retire Overseas: Everything You Need to Know to live Well (for Less) Abroad. “I’ve been covering this beat for 26 years,” she said. “Back then, international living was a fringy idea that most people thought was crazy. Today, more than five million Americans are retired overseas and thousands more are joining them every month.”
To say that Peddicord is well-traveled is an understatement. A former travel writer, she has visited more than 50 countries, invested in real estate in 17, established businesses in seven, and renovated properties in six, according to her bio. “I developed an interest in the idea of living and retiring overseas organically,” she said. “The more I traveled, the more I was interested to know more about what it would be like to live in these interesting and appealing places, rather than just pass through.”
She moved from Baltimore, MD to Waterford, Ireland, about 14 years ago. After seven years, she moved to Paris (“where I’d really always wanted to live and the timing was right for the family,” she said).
Paris: Great place to live, “but a miserable place to start a business,” she said. After four years, she moved to Panama (“right now one of the best places in the world for business if that’s your agenda). She has been there for three-and-a-half years and plans to stay another three years or so as she establishes her venture. Then, her itinerary will include spending time in Paris, Croatia, Columbia and Panama. “That’s our long-term retirement plan,” she said, “to move around among these four places we enjoy according to the seasons.”
For people with the same wanderlust, this is an irresistible allure of international living, but there are practical advantages, Peddicord noted. “One of the biggest is a reduced cost of living,” she said. “Perhaps the greatest advantage is a dramatically increased quality of life. Moving to a new country in retirement can be the biggest adventure of your life.”
Is international living a good fit for you? In making the decision whether to retire overseas, Peddicord said, people must “be honest with themselves about what kind of lifestyle they want.” This is especially important if making the move with a spouse or significant other.
She recommends spending time in prospective destinations and familiarizing yourself with the surroundings, the culture and researching such practicalities as health care and residency visas.
“Do not make a decision based on Internet research,” she said Spend time in the destinations that appeal most before making a decision. She also recommends renting first before committing to the purchase of a home in a new country. “Don’t make a decision long-distance or on the basis of Internet research alone,” she said.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.