How In The World Do You Decide Where In The World?
Out of this big old world of 195 countries, how in the world do you figure out where in the world to go?
If you’re just beginning to think about the idea of going overseas, whether for retirement or otherwise, this is a huge, daunting question.
Where do you start?
My favorite piece of advice for beginning to tackle this conundrum is to picture what you want to see when you wake up and pull back your curtains. What is outside that window? When you open your door to greet the new day, what is it that’s greeting you back?
First, perhaps, the climate is what informs the panorama… do you see palm trees and sunshine? The streets powdered with snow? Flowers blooming with a backdrop of mountains and valleys? Does the scene change from month to month or does the climate hold steady throughout the year?
This first consideration will help you narrow down the regions of the world you should be looking at. You could very generally think of three categories: tropical, temperate and seasonal, or mountainous. Each of these options has their pros and cons.
Many think tropical is what they want, but tropical is a big adjustment for those who’ve never lived outside the Northern Hemisphere. The length of daytime never changes, the temperature and humidity never waver… it’s all the same all year long. I had a hard time after a few years in Panama, because I missed the change in seasons and the different lifestyles that each season offers.
If you want some change throughout the year, don’t forget that extremity of seasons is entirely customizable to your preference. Seasons bring a lovely rhythm to the year, and many places with seasons don’t often see snow, so if you’re just looking for a more temperate winter, it’s not hard to find. In fact, in some places the seasonal difference is negligible… maybe you wear a sweater or light jacket in the colder months of the year.
And if you’re considering living in the heights, keep altitude limitations in mind—it’s not the best choice for those with heart conditions, for example. Of course, this is again customizable. There’s a big difference between Medellín at 5,000 feet and Cuenca at 8,400. They both take some getting used to, but I’ve known many who can’t stomach Cuenca’s altitude—they wind up sick and miserable. The same people are OK after a couple days in Medellín.
Next think about the architecture and infrastructure that rests under the whims of your chosen climate…
Do you see city streets with frozen puddles and icy lampposts? Quaint townhouses sunbathing along a small street on a spring-like day? Steep roofs few and far between as you gaze across a rocky, undulating landscape? Or is it simply sand and ocean you want to see?
This question leads you to the type of lifestyle you’re seeking within your selected regions. Again, you could roughly divide the common options into types: city, small town, beach, mountain. Of course, these are very general classifications…
When you think about cities, you’d need to consider the differences between modern or historical cities. Historical cities have all the major amenities of a metropolis, but they were built hundreds of years ago… they have small cobblestone streets that don’t accommodate large cars (or maybe any cars at all). And cobblestones are cute, but they aren’t easy on the legs and back after walking all day. These cities are also less accessible for those with mobility limitations. You might not find ramps, for example, at the crosswalks or in stores.
When you think about beaches, you’ll have to determine the level of development you would be most comfortable with. Do you want to live in an established beach town where you might have to contend with tourists? At the other extreme, you could find an all-but-unknown beach where you’d have to install your own electricity and water source if you bought land.
When you think of mountains, as I said, you should think about just how high you can go comfortably. Are you happy to be landlocked in your mountain retreat, or would you like some water nearby? Many popular mountain destinations feature nearby lakes… and some places even have mountain ranges near the coast. You could also choose to join a gated community or fly solo (actually, this is an option you’ll have to debate for almost any location you choose).
Next consider your type of accommodation. Your region will likely play a role in limiting what’s available. But in most places you could choose between owning or renting land—an empty lot on which to build your own home or a lot with a home already built. Or a house with minimal or no land—is this in some kind of master-planned community or just a house you find on your own? (See the letter below for a further tip on buying into a gated/planned community.) Or is an apartment or condo what you’d like to live in? Again, you may be limited depending on how you’ve answered the previous questions. You won’t be buying land if you want to live in a city. If you want to go off grid and start from scratch in some unknown beach or mountain town, you won’t find a condo building to shop in.
Between these three basic questions, you should be able to draw yourself a pretty good picture of what you want your life overseas to look like. From there you can start narrowing down where all these things are available.
Some other random things to consider…
Is healthcare a big concern for you? If you have any major existing medical issues, then that should lead your search in tandem with the other three questions above. It will limit your choices—you can’t live in a remote place if you need to be able to easily or regularly access a healthcare facility.
Do you want to get rid of the burden of owning your own car? If so, pick a city with a good public transport system. If you live in a small town or remote beach or mountain locale, you’ll need a car.
Do you intend to work, either in person or remotely? If you’re working remotely, then make sure that wherever you want to go has internet access that will support your needs. If you want to actually get a job (which is not easy for a foreigner overseas), then focus on places that will give you a work permit and that have some job opportunities.
That’s enough to think about for today. But really, we’re just scratching the surface.
Figuring out your needs… and narrowing your options is a big focus of our Retire Overseas Virtual Conference. You got first notification when we opened up doors to our biggest event of the year last week…
By taking the event online this year, we’ve been able to add more destinations and speakers than originally planned… so you’ll get to hear from 21 destinations—all weathers, budgets, and other personal wishes catered for…
If you’d like to join us, now’s the time to get in…
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That’s on top of your exclusive Live and Invest Overseas Confidential reader discount of US$50… and the Early Bird Discount of US$100…
So, acting now, you can save US$250 (a discount of over 40%) on your place at our top event of the year…
I hope you’ll join us.