How to Get the Most Out of Your Overseas Retirement

By Nick Wharton on 8 January 2018 0 comments

Retiring abroad can be a wonderful and enriching experience for those with an adventurous spirit and a desire to try something new. But some people find being away from everything that's familiar to be challenging, exhausting, and even alienating. Many factors contribute to the experience you have when retiring overseas, but the best way to create a smooth transition is to plan extensively and thoroughly. (See also: 7 Smart Reasons to Retire Abroad)

For most people, this planning process consists of crossing off all the practical steps required to make their dream a reality. Things like sorting out finances, finding affordable and comfortable accommodations, and setting up quality health insurance are priorities, but retirees sometimes neglect to consider what their day-to-day lives will look like. It pays to also have a plan in place for how you're going to settle into your new home and how to maximize the benefits of living abroad. Here's how to make the most of your overseas retirement. (See also: How to Choose the Perfect Country to Retire In)

1. Integrate into your new culture

When you set off for your new life abroad, you're probably also leaving behind many established relationships. These could be with family members, a circle of friends, next door neighbors, or even the friendly server at the local restaurant where you regularly eat. Though you may not appreciate it at the time, that familiarity breeds a feeling of security that will disappear overnight.

The very best way to build up new relationships is to make the effort to integrate into your new community as quickly as possible. If you're moving to a country where you don't speak the language, learn it, otherwise this will always set you apart as an outsider. Introduce yourself to your new neighbors, speak to people in your local shops and cafes, and find out about any community events or activities that you could get involved in. (See also: You Can Learn a New Language — Just Use One of These 3 Apps)

Another great way to get to know the local culture is to join the local Facebook communities. In my experience, there are a mix of English and local-language posts in most of the groups, and Facebook does a pretty good job of translating the latter so that you can absorb information. To join the groups and communities on Facebook, simply Google: "[your desired city] Facebook community," click the most relevant results, and request to join the groups. Meetup.com also has clubs for all kinds of interests around the world. (See also: 5 Countries That Welcome American Retirees)

2. Seek out other expats

Meeting other expats is a great way to connect with like-minded people who already have experience moving away from home and integrating into your new community. You'll be able to use their accumulated knowledge to learn more about your new home — from the best restaurants in town, to where you can buy the home comforts you crave.

To speed up the process of making new friends, try joining the local expat communities on Facebook. There you can communicate with other retirees and expats to ask questions and learn more about your new area. I do this every time I live in a new country for an extended period of time, and it has proved invaluable for me.

There's often a misconception that expat groups are very insular and network only within themselves to the exclusion of local residents. Though this is undoubtedly true of some people, many expats you meet will already be fully integrated and heavily involved in the local community. They can be an invaluable source of support for when times get tough. (See also: 5 Amazing, Cheap Places to Live as an Expat)

3. Build new routines

Going from working full-time to having a free schedule can be a daunting prospect and it's fair to say that many people find it difficult to adapt. Building new routines is a necessary step for any retiree, but it becomes particularly important when you retire abroad, as there are even more changes to get used to. Though the first few weeks and potentially months will be exciting and invigorating, once the initial thrill of the new lifestyle has died down, you'll need to develop a new groove.

Think of it as an opportunity to spend more time doing the things that you really love, but struggled to find time for previously. Beyond joining the clubs previously mentioned, consider volunteering with a local group. Volunteering can also be a fulfilling way to get involved and feel purposeful. Also check Trip Advisor for the top rated experiences near your new home, and locate local beach clubs, gyms or yoga studios. Once you sign up for a few passes to these clubs, you'll likely meet many other expats and locals who will be full of great ideas for other activities to add to your routine.

Build up your schedule until you've got enough structure and activities to fill your time in a meaningful way. (See also: 9 Things to Know Before Retiring Abroad)

4. Treat yourself

Moving abroad in retirement is usually partly prompted by a desire to reap the financial benefits of living in a country where your dollar goes a lot further than at home. If that's the case, then it's important to make sure you take full advantage of it and treat yourself from time to time. (See also: 5 Countries Where You Can Retire for $1,000 a Month)

What that treat is will be different for every person. But whether it's a weekly massage, a monthly shopping session, or a daily coffee in your favorite cafe, it's important to make these little pick-me-ups a regular part of your routine. Being kind to yourself in this way will keep you mentally energized, and will become a little source of comfort to get you through the transition.

A great way to find out what living expenses are cheaper and where you'll likely be able to splurge in your new destination is to try the cost of living comparison at Numbeo. Type in your current city and the one you plan to move to, and Numbeo will show a list of many popular expenses with a "difference" percentage to show you how much you'll save (or lose) in your new city.

5. Stay healthy

Health is a big concern for any retiree, and you need to make sure that you maintain yours in order to be able to get the most out of your retirement. That means staying physically active, eating well, and getting enough rest. But you don't need to be hitting the gym everyday for hours on end to achieve this.

One great way to keep yourself fit and active is to pick an activity that you enjoy doing and find a buddy to do it with. Whether it's a game of tennis, a round of golf, or just getting out into the great outdoors and going for a walk, do it often as part of your new routine. Doing it with someone else will keep you motivated, and you'll get more enjoyment out of it at the same time. (See also: 8 Easy Health and Fitness Tricks for Travelers)

6. Make a bucket list

One of the reasons you considered retiring abroad in the first place was probably for the adventure it would provide you with. Though it's important to build new routines, it's easy to get swept along in them and lose that sense of excitement that you'd hoped for when moving abroad. A great way to maintain that spark is to make yourself a bucket list full of things that you want to see, do, achieve, and experience.

Resolve to tick just a few items off the list each year and focus on those that will really push you out of your comfort zone. It will ensure that you carry on doing the things that you set your heart on. (See also: 5 Incredible Places to Retire Abroad That Anyone Can Afford)

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