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Living Abroad In Retirement – Is This For You?

Living Abroad In Retirement – Is This For You?

By Susan Williams

Have you ever dreamed of just packing up and moving somewhere completely different in retirement?

This wasn’t necessarily what Edd and Cynthia Staton had envisioned. But as a result of the economic crisis in 2008, the couple found themselves needing to drastically alter their financial situation. In order to accomplish this, after much investigation and research, they relocated abroad to live their retirement in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Fast forward to today. They are loving life as expats, and are now sharing their personal knowledge and experience of living abroad with others.

In this Learning Bites episode, they joined me to tell more about their journey and to help others understand what is involved.

Here is our discussion;

These are some of the highlights of our conversation;

Why And How Edd & Cynthia Decided To Make The Move Abroad

  • Over a decade ago Edd and Cynthia were near retirement with what they thought was a solid financial plan in place. When the Great Recession of 2008 hit they both lost their jobs. The equity in their home and other financial assets declined to such a point that they decided their best option was to take the savings they had left, retire early, and move abroad to a lower cost of living.
  • They first created a “wish list” of the aspects of living that were important to them to increase the potential for their happiness in a new home overseas.
  • Armed with their financial and lifestyle requirements, they began their Internet research and discovered Cuenca, Ecuador. Even though they had never heard of the city, it seemed to check all their boxes. In 2009 they took a scouting trip there that exceeded all their expectations, and a year later they stepped off the plane to begin their expat adventure.

Why They Believe This Is A Viable Option For Other Retirees

  • Many baby boomers are just not financially prepared for this next phase in their life, so finding a lower cost of living is an important factor to consider. Edd and Cynthia shared that those nearing retirement are in two categories—one group hasn’t saved anything, and the other is afraid they haven’t saved enough. Living abroad is a great solution for both of these situations.
  • Edd commented, “You can have a Social Security budget… AND an upscale lifestyle by moving to another country. We know because we’re doing it.”

Some Of The Benefits Of Living Abroad

  • Edd and Cynthia now live a stress-free life. They consider themselves “Goldilocks” people – they don’t like it too hot or too cold and enjoy springtime weather year-round.
  • They have excellent health and affordable healthcare. As part of Ecuador’s national healthcare system, their coverage is 100% with $0 deductible. There are no restrictions for age or pre-existing conditions, and the premiums are very low. They also maintain Medicare coverage for when they visit family in the U.S.
  • As a result of their lower cost of living, they have been able to actually grow their nest egg rather than deplete it. Cynthia shared they’ve also had some fabulous travel experiences in South America as well.
  • Edd says living abroad can be the “retirement trifecta” – able to lower your cost of living, uplevel your lifestyle, and preserve or grow your nest egg.

Things They Are Missing As A Result Of Living Abroad

  • Initially when they moved, Cynthia missed English. Not being a Spanish speaker, she had underestimated how different daily life would be not surrounded by her native language. Thankfully, this has changed over time. Their language skills have improved and Cuenca is rapidly becoming a more bilingual city. So it’s no longer an issue.
  • Edd shared he is a “food guy,” and initially he would make an extensive list of things he missed and wanted to eat when they went back to the States. The whole food scene has exploded here, and there’s much more variety and availability than there was ten years ago. These days they bring back very few items in their luggage after a visit to the States, and the whole fixation with food isn’t nearly as important as it seemed to be in the beginning.

Family And Friends While Living Abroad

  • The first thing that Edd and Cynthia did after relocating was begin to develop  friendships and a sense of community as they realized that social isolation was a potential risk of this move.
  • They set aside enough money in their budget to go back and visit family, and this became even more important when grandchildren started to come along. Because they are retired, their visits to the U.S. are for weeks (and sometimes months) at a time.
  • In between visits, they stay connected with frequent online chats. The grandchildren will often video call to read stories together. Technology has made the expat experience so much easier than in pre-Internet days.

Suggestions If Someone Was Interested In Retiring Abroad

  • Start by figuring out what you are looking for in your new home abroad. Make a wish list to determine what’s most important to you before you even start looking at countries. Also, be sure to identify deal breakers.
  • Edd shared that a deal breaker is something that you cannot live with. Or without. For example, if a medication you require is not in the country you are considering, this would be a deal breaker.
  • You also need to make sure that you have a budget. Armed with what you want and what you can afford, you are then in a position to determine the right country and the places within it that will suit you.
  • Also make sure that you take a scouting trip. Do not rely on Internet research. You need to personally go and make sure the place you’ve selected speaks to your heart not just your head.
  • This entire path to successfully retiring abroad is covered step-by-step in Retirement Reimagined!, Edd and Cynthia’s Master Course.

Living abroad in retirement – this may be a possible option for baby boomers who have concerns about their financial future.

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.