Tiny Nestegg? Retire abroad!
Can't afford to live on your pension or Social Security in the U.S.? Why not find a cheaper place to live? No, not Canada - the other communist mecca... that's right, China!
Ha ha! I know I'll get all kinds of flack for that one. I'm just kidding, Comrade, don't take me seriously! I know China isn't communist anymore.
NPR, my favorite news source, offered up a story yesterday filed by Keva Rosenfeld, whose mother-in-law (I'm not sure if it is mother-in-law per se so much as his partner, Karen Murphy's, mother) has chosen to retire in China, finding it much too difficult to live off of $400 a month in the United States. Interestingly enough, the old gal (she's 75) has chosed Shanghai, arguably the most expensive city in China, to spend out her remaining days.
Although the story promises some amusing tales of generational misunderstandings, it's much shorter than it should be, told from Keva's viewpoint, as he goes to Shanghai with his wife for a visit with his mother-in-law. There is a short discussion about how small a dingy the Shanghai apartment is, but little about how and where she shops for groceries, if she has learned to barter for her gorceries, if she has made any friends, or what it's like to live in Shanghai knowing absolutely no Mandarin AT ALL. Where does she go for health care? How does she explain what she needs in an emergency?
China is a place you can't really avoid hearing about these days, so I hate to add to the hullabaloo. Slate featured a couple installments about traveling to China for medical treatments a while back.
Having lived in China, I can attest that unless you live in a big city like Shanghai or Beijing or Shenzhen, you're likely to have a hard time adjusting as an American. Not that the big cities are easy, either. Things are made immeasurably more difficult if you don't have any language skills. However, although Keva can be heard in the NPR story suggesting that no one in Shanghai speaks English, this is most certainly not the case.
I'd be really curious to know if this will be a trend among the Baby Boomers (Murphy's mother is not a boomer, but I can see boomers doing this), or if living in China is really more for people like Ms. Murphy's mother, who is described as a "bohemian". And if Westerners start moving en masse to China, will it still be a viable place to live on less than $500 a month?