Tag Archives: Retiree

5 Considerations When Taking the Expat Plunge


Are you considering moving outside of the country and becoming an expat after you retire? You may be dreaming of new adventures, the excitement of living in and experiencing a new culture. Or maybe you are looking to find a place where you get more bang for your buck.  Whatever your reason, the world awaits. It is a big world and making the decision as to where to land is difficult at best.  You may decide to move to where every other expat is moving these days – the “latest” location touted by those expat retirement blogs – or you may do a personal search to find the location that works best for you.

In my search for the “right” location I have found a few cities that would offer me much of what I look for. I fell in love with Antigua, Guatemala years and hoped to live there someday. Then there is Cuenca, a beautiful, colonial city high in the Andes of Ecuador, that captured my heart as I wandered through el Centro on my very first visit. They are both viable options, but I am not yet convinced where I will hang my hat and I plan to continue my search… Guatemala, Chile, Spain, France, Sicily, Greece, Malaysia, Thailand…the list goes on and on.  So many locations to consider!

If you are thinking about becoming an expat here are five things to consider, besides location, before making your move:

Dig deep and ask the tough questions.

Why are you thinking about doing this? What is important to you? What do you need vs. what do you want?  Can you be happy with only the needs being fulfilled?  Are you willing to accept they way they do things in your new country or will  you expect they do it the way to which you are accustomed? Can you live without that red licorice or your favorite barbeque sauce?

Friends and family. How will you keep in touch? Will you be happy not seeing them in person on a weekly or monthly basis? Can you be such a long way from your grandkids?

Is this a forever move or will you only be going for a few years and returning or moving on?

All these questions and more need to honestly answered.  A trip to explore your potential expat city will help to answer some of these questions.  Digging deep and reflecting on your values, adaptability and flexibility will help clarify your reasons, expectations and likelihood of success.

Do your research.

Blogs abound about moving to and living other countries. The bloggers share their experiences and offer a myriad of suggestions for you to chew on.  Then there are sites like numbeo.com that provide costs and living expense comparisons, a very useful tool in seeing how far your resources will stretch.

Facebook has many groups for expats living in different locations around the world.  It’s a great place to interact with and ask questions of people who have already made their move. You will find those who have adapted well, some who are less than happy for numerous reasons, and still others who after a couple of years are heading back to their home country.  These pages generally give a pretty balanced perspective on living in that city or country and honest answers abound to any question you may ask.

Think about visas, residency requirement, and citizenship, if you are interested in going that route.

Healthcare. What are the options? Is there a government program with an option to purchase private insurance instead? What will it cost out of pocket and would that be within your budget?  Will you keep supplemental insurance for when you go back home to visit? Or will you just have travel insurance?

Then there is your best bud. Are you able to bring your beloved pet? What are the requirements to make that happen? Are there vets available and what does their practice look like? What is the culture of pets in the community?

Is the expat community active and welcoming? Starting by making some expat contacts and broadening your community to include the locals as well will only enhance your experience.

Make a plan.

A solid plan will take before, during and after the move into consideration.

Long before ever packing your bags, make a plan. How will all the “at home” requirements be handled? Will everything be handled by electronic mail?  Banking, credit cards, taxes, financial planning all need to be considered. How will those be handled? When will you move?  Do you need to sell a home before you leave? Or will you rent it…just in case?  What will your move look like? Will you only take a couple of suitcases and start fresh?  Or will you pack up your entire household and all your belongings and arrange for them to be shipped?  How will you stay in touch with family and friends?  Will emails and Facebook suffice or will you want to have more personal contact through Skype?

There is so much to consider and a written, detailed plan will only make things go so much smoother. The logistics related to the move need to be considered and fully understood. Stress mixed with excitement and anticipation will be high, so having all your ducks in a row before you hop on the plane will be critical to a smooth transition.

Set a few routines.

Set a few routines when you arrive to get you out into the community so you can begin to make connections with expats and locals alike.  Each morning after breakfast while living in Peru I would enjoy a leisurely cup off coffee in the house courtyard, and mid-morning I would stroll across town to the open air market to get exercise, enjoy the sights and sounds of the city and inevitably I would run into someone I was acquainted with.

While living in Guatemala City I had a routine on the weekends. Having taught school all week, I liked to take the bus to a nearby town, Antiqua, for the day and occasionally overnight on the weekends.  It became a favorite place to go to unwind, and I became familiar with the town and it with me.

If a weekend getaway isn’t an option, consider a Saturday morning walk along the river, ending with coffee and pastry at that quiet little bakery on the other side of town. Or maybe you will join a group with like interests, volunteer to read to children at the local school or help out at an animal shelter.

Setting a few routines at first to get out and about in a normal ‘I live in this town’ kind of way, not ‘I am here as a tourist’ kind of way can normalize your new life. It will provide you opportunity to meet people in those shops, restaurants, schools, clubs and overtime relationships will evolve and friendships will grow.

Create community.

For some this will be easy.  For others who may be a little more introverted or reserved this may feel like a daunting task.

Most cities where expats reside have welcome lunches or gatherings that are held weekly or monthly. Go to the expat hangouts to start the interaction.

Get to know the locals in your neighborhood. Understand that some cultures, though very friendly, may not invite you to their home for a long time. I lived in Peru for two years and I never made it past the parlor in friends homes where guests were welcomed to visit.

Walk softly, observe and learn. Local friendships will evolve naturally over time and more often than not, expats will welcome you with open arms.

Moving to another country can be a real adventure.  Having a well thought out plan and having fully considered your reasons for moving and expectations of the experience can make this new adventure fun and exciting.

What have you done or what are you doing to make your expat move smooth and successful?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Fun Adventure Can Add $24K Or More To Your Nest Egg


Is your retirement savings less than you would like it to be?  Maybe another $24,000 dollars socked away would make you feel a little more secure.  Do you love other cultures and traveling to other countries?  Are you a helper?  Do you have sincere desire to make the world a better place?  If you answered yes to those questions, then I think this idea might be perfect for you!

An Idea Is Born

I lay in bed trying to fall asleep as wonderings of my retirement years dance in my head.  What will I do?  How do I build my savings so that I feel more secure?  At this rate I won’t be able to stay in my home and will have to move, but where will I go?  Can I downsize and cut costs by maybe living in a park model or RV or a 55+ community somewhere warm?  Am I ever going to be able to travel outside the country again?  Oh, I so love traveling!  Maybe I could become an expat and live in a country where my money goes farther. On and on the thoughts circle in my head, until – flash! – the light bulb switches on and a new idea is born.

Now, let me preface this by saying that this idea is not for everyone.  If you don’t like helping people, or traveling to another country, or saving money, then this might not be your cup of tea, but keep an open mind and see if the seed that is planted begins to sprout.

I have spent most of my life working to pay my bills, like most people, and I envision myself not working during my retirement years.  That would be my ideal vision of my post-work era.  A good number of my jobs have been in the non-profit sector where I have gotten a great deal of personal satisfaction knowing that in some small way I was making a difference.  In my retirement, I hope to continue to be able to do the same.

Before I share my – flash! – idea, let’s consider a few questions.

Question 1. Would you like to have another $24K in your savings?

I can’t imagine anyone saying no to this question.  Like many others, my retirement savings took a hit a few years back when the market took a nose dive and I am rebuilding, so I am open to considering all types of options to increase my nest egg.  “From humming bird egg to ostrich egg,” is my retirement mantra!

Pictures from Memory Card 442Question 2.  Internationally, what country do you dream of visiting or living in?

Imagine living in another country, maybe in Africa, Asia, or Central or South America.  Maybe it is a country that calls to you on a deep level, one that you have always want to travel to. Or maybe the country you dream of is one where you would like to setup housekeeping during your retirement, but you don’t know the culture yet and haven’t had a chance to visit.   I have always had an affinity to Central and South America.  I think I might choose Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador, or maybe even Chile.  What country would you choose?

Question 3.  When you retire, will you have the freedom, the desire, or the need to move?

Can you free yourself up from the housing ties that bind you?  Are you going to have a housing transition when you retire?

I realize that am going to have to sell my house when I retire, because my incoming won’t cover the outgoing.  I am going to enjoy my house for the next 8.2 years, and then my options will be wide open.  Are you planning on downsizing to smaller place?  Maybe you think about moving to a 55+ community in the land of the sun or buying an RV and heading down the road to destinations unknown?  If you are going have a “transition” period between the life you lead now and the life you will be leading after retirement, then this idea just might be for you.

Jungle house on the river peruQuestion 4.  Are you up for an adventure?

Retirement is a time to live the life you have always dreamed of. For some, that means having the adventures you have only read about in books or seen in movies. The exciting thing about retiring is that you can now create the life you want, including the adventures of your dreams.

Question 5.  Can you commit 2 years of your life to having the experience of a lifetime, while making a positive difference in the world at the same time?

If you could volunteer, save $1000 a month of your social security income, and have an international experience in the country of your choice, would you do it?  That would be a $24,000 increase to your nest egg in only 2 years.  Tell me, you aren’t just a little intrigued right now?

So, Here Is The – Flash! – Idea

Join an organization for a 2 year commitment, while volunteering and living in another country, and save money in the process.

First, you will need to figure out how to detangle yourself from as many bills as you can before you go.  Sell your house, rent it out to someone you trust, or plan the timing so your volunteering commitment coincides with the end of your lease. You now have the essential cost savings plan in place.

Now, join the Peace Corps!  Yes, the Peace Corps.  It’s not just for young adults anymore.  More and more retirees, couples (straight and same-sex) and singles, are joining the Peace Corps well into their retirement years… their 60s…70s and even 80s!  The application process has been simplified and the wait time for acceptance has been shortened to about 6 months.  You can pick the country you would like to serve in from a list on their website, as well as the kind of service you are interested in doing.  You choose!

For the 2 years that you are living in a land that you have dreamt of, while providing service to the community, you are not paying any rent, mortgage or utilities back home.  The money you would have spent from your social security check toward those expenses can now be dropped directly into your retirement savings!  Estimate a $1000 a month savings (yes, probably on the low side for some) for 2 years and wha-lah, your savings will have a $24,000 boost. Oh, and did I mention that they pay returning volunteers a readjustment allowance of a little over $7000?  Add in 48 days of vacation, full medical and dental, family leave in emergencies, travel to and from the country, training and more, and you have a perfect package for overseas volunteering.  What are the Benefits?

heartThe Most Important Consideration

Beyond the financial benefit, I think the most important consideration in this equation is, do you want to be of service on a global scale? Do you want to give back and make a difference in another culture?  If you do, then the financial increase to your retirement nest egg is only a small bonus. The biggest bonus is how much the experience will fill your heart and the hearts of those you encounter. It’s overall a win-win, wouldn’t you say?

Would you consider volunteering outside of the country when you retire?  Where would you like to go?  Your comments, as always, are welcome below.

 

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A Tight Budget Doesn’t Have to Mean Disaster for Hair, Nails and Body


Have you ever had your hair cut and in the middle of it screamed, “Nooooooo!!!” and you knew, in that moment, that it was just too late?  Me too.  Mine happened in a small town on the Amazon River, just over the border of Peru, in Colombia.  May I say right now that my spontaneity and impulsiveness can sometimes get me into trouble.  This was one of those times.

Passport Renewal

I was living in Iquitos, Peru, in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, about 4 hours from the river’s source. I needed to get a new stamp in my passport to be able to stay in Peru for another 6 months and heard that all you needed to do was take a “rapido,” a speed boat, down the river to Leticia, just over the Peruvian border in Colombia, where the countries of Peru, Colombia and Brazil meet. I could have flown to a larger city in Ecuador or Chile, and looking back that probably would have been a better choice, but I decided that a ride on the river would be fun. I bought a ticket and planned to be at the Embarcadero, where the boats, fish and bananas arrived to Iquitos, early the next morning.

The Embarcadero

I walked through the vendors that had their bananas and fish on the cement floor for sale to locate the boat.  The stench of fish first thing is the morning caused my stomach to churn, so I held my bandana over my nose, as I moved quickly through the busy merchants, trying not to slip on the fish fluids that covered the floor.  I arrived to the other side of the dimly lit cement building to the river side where fish and banana were being grilled and sold to locals and workers for breakfast.  Locating the boat, a battered mess that I wasn’t sure would hold up for this long trip, I climbed on board, found a seat about 3 rows back from the driver, and settled in for a long ride.  The boat had a somewhat tattered canvas roof, which I thought would be good protection from the sun or rain and there was also plastic sheeting rolled up on each side, held up with rope, that would be dropped down in the event of bad weather.  With my fruit, cheese and a couple of freshly made rolls from the local bakery tucked carefully away in my backpack, I was ready to go.

10 Hours

Aerial PhotoThe rest of the passengers arrived, found their seats, and after waiting and waiting and waiting in the heat of sun, we took off down the river. Waiting is a way of life on the river, a different pace in the jungle.  I had been on a speed boat before, back home on the lake, and preparing to venture out on this adventure brought back memories of the wind racing through my hair and the lift off the seat when the boat hit a wave, but I had no idea what that would feel like for 10 straight hours.  Yes, 10 hours of a contant churning engine, hot wind burning my face and drying my eyes, and the ongoing assault to my back and my body as the boat attempted to maneuver the river’s everchanging mood.

Our second stop enroute was a small town on the Peruvian side of the border, before we entered Colombian and Brazilian waters, about 9 hours into the trip.  Passports were stamped as we exited the country. I wanted to kiss the ground I was standing on.  It wasn’t moving, bumping or spraying water in my face, but back into the boat we reluctantly climbed, knowing there was only a small distance to cover before arriving to the small river town of Leticia, Colombia.

Feeling Grimey

We finally pulled up to the dock in Leticia.  I was worse for the wear, exhausted and feeling a little more than grimey.  The heat of the day, the whipping of the wind and the river splashing on me for 10 hours had made me crave a shower.  Needless to say, I was feeling less than my best.  I wandered town for a while before finding a tiny and somewhat rundown little hotel to stay at the for night. Just a bed, that’s all I needed.  As I moved through the streets of Leticia trying to get my barrings, I noticed a little storefront offering haircuts.  Feeling less than optimal, I considered getting my hair groomed. A shampoo and cut would make me feel refreshed, I thought.  After checking into my hotel and enjoying a lovely meal, my mind kept returning to that little store where the woman was cutting hair.  I wandered the streets, until I came across the same sign that had grabbed my attention earlier.  To my surprise they were still open for business and I went in to inquire about a cut.

“No Tocar” Means Do Not Touch

As I sat in the chair, in my best Spanish, I explained to the woman with scissors in hand that I wanted my hair cut to the length of my ear lobes, a nice bob of sorts.  She nodded.  I assumed she understood.  I told her that I have a cowlick at the nape of my neck and this absolutely must not be cut, trimmed, or in anyway touched.  I pulled up my hair that was down to the middle of my back and said, “No tocar, no tocar.” Do not touch. She must not have heard the word no, because within a split second she dropped the scissors in her hand, grabbed the now buzzing shears that moved from counter to neck at lightening speed. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  And, in the blink of an eye, the hair that was not to be touched was gone. “Nooooooooooo!” Too late.

She finished the haircut, shaving both sides at the nape equally, creating a bob with bangs and a neck that reached up far beyond my hairline.  As I bowed my head to count my money to pay her, I could feel the movement of air on my newly shaved head.  This, I said to myself, is not a good look.

I learned that getting a haircut on a little obscure side street in a small town, in a developing country, with my limited language skills was probably not the best decision I had ever made.

You, on the other hand, can make better decisions regarding your self-care options and not break the bank.

AFFORDABLE SELF-CARE

Fortunately, there are cost saving options for haircut, color, manicures, pedicures, massage and acupuncture, all to make you feel renewed and wonderful, without the results that I had that day in Leticia.

There are many ways that you, in your own city, can find wonderful bargains on all those special services that elevate you and nurture you. Once I returned back to the United States, I couldn’t bear to pay the cost to go to a high-end spa or salon for hair, nail and body work, so I found other ways to get an affordable quality haircut or wonderful massage that would be perfect for anyone on a budget.

Here are some ideas to consider:

Hair Care and Nails

Woman getting a back massage in front of the white backgroundSchools of cosmetology require students to have a certain number of hours in hair and nails before they can graduate.  They just aren’t going to set them loose on the public without supervised practice.  I have gone to the local school in my town and have received great haircuts for a great price.  Schedule someone who is closing in on graduation, so they have some experience under their belt. A supervisor is observing from a distance as the hair is cut and comes over at the end to check for quality. Hair color, manicures and pedicures can also be had at a very reasonable price.

If you are traveling the country in an RV, or living in park model, you will find that often in 55 and over retirement communities you can find someone cutting hair in the club house or a trailer in the park.  Ask around and you will get a good cut at a good price.

Spa Days

Going to a high end day spa when you are living a on fixed income or limited budget can take a big chunk of your living expenses.  If you put a little money aside every week in a few weeks you will have enough money saved to go to a day spa that won’t require using your grocery budget for the month.  In the area where I live there are lower cost days spa called Korean Spa.  There are many of these located around the country. You can spend the day for about $30.  If you are lucky enough to find a Groupon coupon, you can get a massage at a greatly reduced price.

Massage

treatmentroom2If you don’t have a day spa that is affordable near you, then look to see if there is a massage school.  Massage students are required to log a certain number of practice hours to graduate and become licensed.  Often massages are provided at the school clinic for a fraction of what you would pay to see a masseuse in a clinic or spa.  When booking an appointment, request a massage therapist who is close to graduation.  You can often get a really lovely massage for a very moderate price.

Acupuncture

Many consider acupuncture as part of their selfcare regime and find it not only balancing and healing, but also extremely relaxing.  If you are fortunate enough to have an acupuncture school in your area, check out clinic appointments at the school at a very affordable rate.  Again, request to be scheduled with those in their last year of school.

Groupon, Valpack and Local Specials

Remember to double check those value coupon books that you receive in the mail.  Often there are new businesses opening that offer new client specials for hair, nails, massage and acupuncture.  Groupon is a great resource for discounted services.

Do you have other ideas for affordable self-care? Please share your thoughts below.

 

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Copyright 2014 Budget Retirement / Debra Zulawski  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Countdown to Retirement


How Much Longer?

A few years back, I lost my retirement nest egg, not unlike many others, due to the stock market crash, banking debacle and housing market bust. Closing in on retirement age, I started to wonder what retirement would look like for me. Most everything that I had saved was severely diminished by those events – Poof! Nada! Gone! Well, not completely gone, just reduced to a laughable amount. And now, at the age of … well, closing in on 62, rebuilding that nest egg seems like a daunting task. How in the world am I going to make this work? Will I ever really be able to retire? Will I have to work the rest of my days?

One day I realized just how many of my friends were retired. Lots! I would hear of their plans and how they spend their days. They are having a ton of fun! Living the life! Having worked from the age of 13, I am more than ready to move into a life of NOT getting up before the crack of dawn to ready myself for a long commute in the dark, a high paced day of work, and a long exhausted commute home. How long until I can retire, I would think to myself, how much longer? I started obsessively thinking about how to rebuild my nest egg in time for retirement and how long until I can make that shift. Age 65 was no longer an option. Neither was 67. So, 70 it is, I decided! I can do this! I can!

The Countdown

About 30 years ago I remember a high level manager who worked for a large corporation who was getting ready to retire. He would walk through the factory every day of that last year prior to his retirement and yell out to the workers…365! 364! 363! Each day the number would decrease, until it was 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1! And retirement began! What a brilliant idea!

It was a few years ago when my retirement fretting began. Looking back, it started just a year or two before my 60th birthday. I wonder if that is the time when retirement creeps into the thoughts of most people. Anyway, I decided that having a countdown would help. How could I start my count down, I wondered? A little over 11 years seemed like forever! I thought of counting down in hours, but that seemed a little excessive. Days? Way too many! I tried working the numbers in a variety of ways, until I finally arrived at months! I decided that counting months seemed to allow for a more rapid countdown, and once I broke the great 100 mark, it would be smooth sailing from there. I first started my countdown at 136 months. As of this post, I am at 100 months and counting. I see the future ahead. I have my destination date. Now, I just need a plan.

Birth of a Blog

And so, this blog was born…out of fear, anxiety, trepidation of the future unknown, as well as a lot of excitement, anticipation and dreams for the years to come. I focus on the anticipation and excitement, in order to overcome the less than productive emotions of fear and anxiety. Positivity and problem solving are my friends!

On this page, I will take you on my journey to and into retirement on a budget. I will share ideas – the pros and cons – the traditional, as well as the out of the box ideas that arrive without thought, in both my night time dreams and my waking hours. Join me on this journey and please feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below!

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Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
~ Mark Twain