Why Are More Retirees Leaving the U.S. to Retire In Foreign Countries?

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Why Are More Retirees Leaving the U.S. to Retire in a Foreign Country?

With approximately 400,000, retired Americans living abroad, moving overseas later in life is becoming a popular Why? Many say they get more for their money living outside the U.S. And they satisfy the love of traveling to a foreign country and day dreaming about living there. In warmer climates it as been known to calm the mind which increases their overall physical well-being.

Where are U.S. retirees going? Portugal is leading the way followed closely by Mexico, France, the beautiful Malta and don’t leave out Italy If you’ve been dreaming about retirement or are on the verge, here are some reasons why so many of your peers are heading overseas.

Your money goes further.

Case in point: a retired couple from Crockett Texas moved to warm and inviting Costa Rica and only needed about $1300 to$1600 per month a month to live an easy life, according to Kiplinger. The couple had a gardener and a housekeeper, plus they dined out traveled frequently. They also lived in a resort area and purchased a home for about $320,000. A comparable house would probably run close to $720,000 in Crockett Texas. They were able to retire earlier and this became a reality; not just a dream.

Some people laugh when asked about retirement because it just seems unattainable. However, if you consider retiring overseas, you may be able to fulfill that retirement dream, CNBC reports. “Outside the U.S., the cost of living can be half what it is in the States, especially in regard to health care,” Dan Prescher, a senior editor at International Living told CNBC. More people are using this option over the last years, making the notion of moving overseas the gateway to retirement.

1: Retirees adapt to New technology makes it easy to relocate.

I got this!

Technology makes money management easy

Several years ago, you’d be reliant upon getting funds from a bank branch. However, online services such as direct deposit and remote deposit capture make money management a breeze, Kiplinger reports.

Some retirees maintain a bank account in the U.S. And the country where they reside, which may be a good idea, especially if you make trips back to the U.S. Maintaining a U.S. mailing address is important if you plan to keep your U.S. bank account, as banks tend to close expat accounts due to rules under the Patriot Act.

2: Plus healthcare expenses cost a lot less.

Even if you have Medicare to cover expenses, healthcare in the U.S. can consume your retirement savings, especially if you have health problems later in life. Retired couples could end up spending upwards of $275,000, in healthcare alone, according to a study by The Motley Fool, so some look for a better solution.

Countries with inexpensive healthcare include Mexico and France, where the average visit to a physician is a mere $26.00, plus the government covers about 70% of the expense.

3: Retiring abroad puts you position to be a global traveler.

You can find excitement and intrigue

You’ve been doing the right thing for years. Paying your bills, raising a family and showing up for work, day in and day out. If travel is on your list, moving abroad in retirement may be the perfect time to kick off your adventure.

This may mean dropping a few bucks to learn a new language, but that makes the adventure even more fun. You should also be open to living outside your comfort zone too. Even though you may need to make a few adjustments to overseas living, % of retirees in a

Passport to see the world!

Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies poll said their mood improved when they were able to travel.

4: A mild climate is good for your health.

Relaxing under a palm tree is more attractive than shoveling snow

Cold, cloudy weather can be depressing for just about anyone, but older people find dismal weather particularly harder to handle, Wise Bread reports. Not only does climate impact mood, warmer temperatures encourages outdoor activities and may help retirees stay more active. Bike riding, swimming and even surfing your way through retirement sounds a lot healthier than shoveling snow.

5: Your brain will really be sharpened.

Travel and adventure may keep the brain engaged

Learning something new may keep the brain active, which includes learning a new language, reading, or learning a musical instrument, according to Everyday Health. Travel may also reduce stress and even help to forge friendships, especially when traveling in a group, Forbes reports. Being in a new environment also builds brain health and resilience, which may also sharpen your observation and sensory skills.

Why go back to the U.S.?’ This divorced retiree left L.A. for Mexico — where he found love and halved his cost of living

Fred Uriarte and his girlfriend.

Fred Uriarte found love twice in Mexico.

First with the country itself, then with a Mexican woman he met at a party.

It’s a far cry from his life in Los Angeles right before he left for Mexico in. The -year-old former aerospace management professional had recently gotten a divorce and sold his home and was temporarily living at his sister’s house while he figured things out. “It was kind of depressing. Here I am years old, living in my sister’s spare bedroom with my belongings in an -by- storage unit.”

Then a friend invited him to visit her in Akumal, Mexico — a little town about miles from Playa del Carmen, a popular tourist spot on the Caribbean. “She was living in this condo on the beach. You walk in and there are sliding glass doors that look at the water. Her backyard was the Caribbean,” recalls Uriarte, who’d always dreamed of a house on the beach. It was on that day he decided the next chapter of his life would be in Mexico, where he’d spent two years of his childhood.

He moved in January to Akumal — “I spent that first seven months at the beach every day,” Uriarte says — and in he moved to Playa del Carmen to be closer to restaurants and friends and meet more people. “There’s only so much self-reflection you can do,” he jokes of his beach-combing life in Akumal. It was there that he began volunteering at the Keep Kids in School Project KKIS, an organization that helps raise money to send children to high school public education is not free in Mexico, thanks to the myriad extras like uniforms, textbooks, supplies and fees that many families have to pay and college. And it was there he met his now-girlfriend.


“We had both been invited to an expat going-away party by mutual friends. I was sitting alone at a table. And she came over and began speaking English to me. I spoke back in Spanish, and she was surprised. We just hit it off.”

The couple has now moved with her teenage son to Querétaro, a gorgeous city lined with historic colonial architecture the city center is a UNESCO world heritage site that has a fast-growing aerospace industry. Uriarte hopes to start consulting soon. It’s a sophisticated city with lots of shopping, art galleries and museums, numerous hospitals, award-winning restaurants and multiple universities.

Here’s what their life is like in Querétaro — from costs to health care and safety to residency and daily life:

Querétaro at sunset.

The cost: ‘Living here cut my cost of living by at least half’

Life in California — Uriarte lived in Redondo Beach, in Los Angeles County — was extremely expensive, in terms of taxes, real estate and car expenses, insurance, and other costs. Moving to Mexico cut Uriarte’s living costs “by at least half,” he says. Out of cities that Expatistan ranks, Querétaro ranks as the th cheapest, and International Living estimates that monthly costs for a couple living pretty modestly are under $2000 a month.

By the numbers: Querétaro, Mexico

Population 662,154 Weather Typically between °F 64 to 82 °F


Uriarte’s biggest monthly expense is rent: Uriarte, his girlfriend and her son now live in a four-bedroom modern home in a gated community in a high-end neighborhood for $1600, a month.

The water bill is about $25 a month, and electricity is between $75 and $100 a month. Food, he says, costs probably 60% of what it costs in the U.S.; groceries for three people for the week costs about $75 to $100— and that’s shopping at a Whole Foods–like grocery store. Going out to eat is also cheaper: A casual lunch with a glass of wine might cost $10 to $15 per person; a nice dinner with a glass of wine might cost $20 or $35 and at a super-high-end spot $ 75 to $100, he says. Car insurance costs about $700 a year, and, though Uriarte says that gas is a bit more expensive than in the U.S., he doesn’t drive as often so he spends much less.

Monthly cost of living: Querétaro, Mexico

Rent two-bedroom apartment $750 Utilities $80 High-speed internet $35 Two cell phones $25 groceries household items $300 Entertainment $150 Health care for two $80 dental $ TOTAL about $1600,

International Living

One other big expense is travel. Uriarte goes back to the U.S. see his four daughters and grand kids at least once a year. “One of the advantages of living in Querétaro is that I can fly roundtrip to Tijuana for about $ and walk across to the U.S. via the new border bridge CBX directly from the airport,” he says. “Once across on the U.S. side I can rent a car or take public transportation to the train station in San Diego,” which, he says, beats landing at LAX. He notes that “Querétaro has an international airport with several flights to U.S. cities, but the cost is about $ to $ U.S.”

Health care

Though you can buy health insurance in Mexico that’s a lot cheaper than in the U.S., says Uriarte, he’s opted to get medevac insurance, which will evacuate a policyholder via air ambulance or another fast transport mode in an emergency.

Uriarte pays roughly $500 a year for that insurance, he says. He also has Medicare, so he can see his doctors in the U.S. using that coverage.

While in Mexico, for smaller checkups and other for services, Uriarte pays out-of-pocket. Care, he says, has been good as well as cheaper than it would be in the U.S. A checkup in Mexico costs him about $60 or $70. When he returns to the U.S., he sees his longtime doctors and refills his prescriptions. There are multiple hospitals in Querétaro.

Evening in Querétaro.


“I’ve never felt threatened,” says Uriarte. He says that, while he lives in a gated community with a guard, his children in Los Angeles live behind gates, too. Querétaro is known as one of the safer cities in Mexico. “I feel very comfortable here,” Uriarte says.


Uriarte recommends expats who are considering moving to Mexico become permanent residents, as it “makes life a little less complicated when renting or buying a house, applying for a driver’s license or opening a bank account,” he says. He applied about two years ago and says the whole process took him a little over a month and cost about $ for an immigration specialist to help him.

Daily life

Though Uriarte hopes to start consulting in the aerospace industry, the area in which he formerly worked, he’s kept busy separate from that. He’s on the board at KKIS, the organization he volunteered with in Playa, he’s taken up woodworking, and he’s very involved in the expat community, including organizing events. “My life is pretty busy,” he reports. “The days go by really fast. Life tends to present you with opportunities if you’re open to them.”

What to know before moving to Mexico

“You do need to understand that life in Mexico is not always what it is in the U.S.,” says Uriarte, who has seen some people relocate south only to head home to the U.S. in short order. “When you’re going to the bank, to the grocery store, you’re going to wait in line,” he says. “There’s also a lot of traffic.” The key to being happy in Mexico, says Uriarte, bilingual since childhood, is integrating yourself with the local community and picking a spot that you love, not just one that’s got a low cost of living.

Bottom line

Uriarte doesn’t have any plan to move back to the U.S. anytime soon, and that’s a “growing sentiment” he’s hearing from other expats, he says. “Why go back to the U.S. when I have everything here? The quality of life is good, and the cost of living is cheaper.”


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