Retiring abroad, whether permanently or for just part of the year (so called 'seasonal retirement'), is an increasingly popular choice, particularly among retirees from countries with 'poor' (cold, wet, etc.) climates, high taxes or soaring property prices. For many people, the dream of spending their golden years in the sun has become an affordable option, although retiring abroad (even for part of the year) isn't without its pitfalls and shouldn't be attempted without careful consideration and planning. Before deciding where, when or indeed, whether to retire abroad, it's important to do your homework thoroughly and investigate the myriad implications and possibilities. Recognising and preparing for potential difficulties in advance is much easier than dealing with disappointment, or even a crisis, later.
However, if you do decide to take the plunge you will be in good company. Tens of millions of people have successfully retired abroad, including some two million Americans (around 400,000 in Mexico alone), over a million Britons, plus many thousands of Canadians and northern Europeans (notably Dutch, Germans and Scandinavians). Hundreds of thousands of British pensioners live in France, Italy and Spain, although countries such as Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and Portugal also have significant numbers of British retirees. Over four million Canadians, colloquially known as 'snowbirds', regularly spend the winter months in Arizona, Florida, the Caribbean or Latin America, returning to Canada for the warmer summer months.
As when making all major life decisions, it's never advisable to be in too much of a hurry. Many people make expensive (even catastrophic) errors when retiring abroad, often because they don't do sufficient research or take into account the circumstances of their partners and family members. It isn't unusual for people to uproot themselves after some time or wish they had chosen a different region or country - or even that they had stayed at home - and a significant number of people who retire abroad return home within a relatively short period!
If you aren't absolutely certain where you want to retire, rent for an extended period before buying a home and burning your bridges!