Retire Abroad

Retirement Plan in Tatters

May 10th, 2012  |  Published in Retire Abroad, Retirement, Social Security  |  6 Comments

Recently, we read a New York Times article by Joe Nocera called My Faith-Based Retirement.

 It was a cheerless piece detailing the failure of 401k’s as an investment vehicle, the decline of pensions, the lack of employer-sponsored healthcare benefit plans and the consequent reduction of Boomer’s retirement expectations. A dreary, rain-drenched, out-in-the-street future was being painted focusing on stark data from EBRI that states: “only 22 percent of workers 55 or older have more than $250,000 put away for retirement and 60 percent of workers in that same age bracket have less than $100,000 in a retirement account.”

 Taking this information as the only premise from which you work out your retirement, you may as well give up. Just chuck the idea of having any appealing options, start on the cat food now and simply get used to it.

Houston, we have a problem

 Remember the 1995 movie Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon? The future of these astronauts looked pretty bleak also, with the seeming possibility of arriving back to earth safely being all but a lost dream. What they did – what they HAD to do – was put everything available to them out on the table and take a hard look at what they had to work with. There was no room for mental darkness, no room for whiners. And time was running out.

 From unrelated bits and pieces they fashioned the part they needed to repair a life-threatening problem and made it unscathed into their future.

 If you find yourself in a future-threatening financial situation today, you, too, need to ask yourself “What do I have available to me, and how can I make it work?”

But… but… but…

 When we retired over 20 years ago, we had no pension and no guaranteed healthcare plan. We were 38 years old and too young to draw social security. Today, that situation would be described as a crisis. In the wisdom of the current moment, we would be told that our retirement is out of the question. Talking heads would paint a bleak picture, emphasizing the drop in our standard of living and the possibility of bankruptcy due to medical costs.

 Accompanying this gloomy description from the media would be the bleating chorus of: “If only Wall Street wasn’t so greedy. If only the housing market hadn’t gone bust. If only health care was guaranteed and free. What a shame to find yourself in this state of affairs at this time in your life. Don’t rely on yourself, all is lost.”

Back to your future

 In those long-ago years we chose to look at creative combinations to fashion our future. Mind you, there were no guarantees our plan would work, and there still aren’t any today. Our stance has always been to take advantage of options that are available, and make the most of them.

 Keep in mind that it’s impossible to reach for the stars when your nose is pointed to the shadows. Caution! Looking only at the dark side of a situation is a dangerous road to walk. Believe us, you can find anything you want to support that line of thinking.

 Instead, why not reduce your spending footprint, and increase both your lifestyle and financial longevity by looking at other places to live?

Some inspiration and a practical plan

 According to the U.S. Government Social Security Website, the average monthly benefit received in 2012 will be $1,229 per retired worker. That equates to $14,748 annually. For easy math, let’s call it $15,000.

 Billy and I just finished living in Panajachel, Guatemala for 6 months on just over $34 per day. That equates to $12,550 a year, and that was for the both of us. We ate out, took boat rides across gorgeous Lake Atitlan, sent presents home to family and friends, grabbed beers at a bar with friends and drank the best tasting cappuccino every afternoon.

 It was not a hardship.

 We met other couples in the thriving Expat community doing the same exact thing – living in beauteous surroundings with views of volcanoes, the lake, or majestic waterfalls and paying as little as $200.00 per month rent. All of us chuckled to ourselves over our good fortune.

 Living in this location on one’s Social Security payment would be a breeze. If there were two checks coming in, you’d have money to spare. Medical Care in the larger cities of Xela, Antigua or Guatemala City is top notch, and there were several dentists in our town of Pana who were highly recommended.

 Don’t like Guatemala? Try Chapala or San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Medellin, Columbia, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Silver City, New Mexico or any number of exotic, exciting and easy-to-live locations. Open your mind; open up to your options.

 If you are one of the “unfortunate ones” who only have $100,000 in retirement savings, you can still bump your $15,000 annual social security income up another $5,000, and that $100,000 will last you 20 years.

The American Expectation Syndrome

 Do you really want to keep your current standard of living? How’s that working out for you? If supporting this lifestyle involves the pressure of maintaining a mortgage, car payments, upkeep and fuel, credit card debt and hefty monthly payments – you may want to think twice.

 Just because someone else imagines that you are “taking a cut in lifestyle” doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s entirely possible that they don’t know what they are talking about!

 It may take a while for you to find the right combination in your new lifestyle. Allow yourself time. There is a natural process in letting go of the “American Expectation Syndrome.”

 Years ago when we first retired, we had been living pretty high – we had a new home, and were illustrious members in the local town. We had gardening service, house cleaning service, dry cleaning service, and we owned two new cars. Dining in the best places wherever we went, we took high priced vacations, and our medical care was paid for through our employer (which of course, is no longer the case). We expected our lives to go UP from here (which meant more spending) and we “couldn’t” see value in simplicity.

 But the stress was too much. We came face-to-face with some very significant personal choices; Keep up our expectations which incurred more spending and therefore more pressure, or simplify and set ourselves free.

We chose freedom

 To be honest, the hardest part of the transition to retirement (and our freedom-based lifestyle of today) was just letting go of the psychological and financial weight of having these expectations. Equally as hard, was letting go of peer pressure to consume, peer judgments over our choices and our peers’ expectations – of us and of themselves.

 However – just to clear away any confusion – we have been retired now for 22 years, have traveled the globe and opened our world (which has gotten larger not smaller), and our friends have continued to work for the last 2 decades. Now those same people are wondering how they can ever afford retirement.

 If you feel that your retirement plan is in tatters, why not put everything you have on the table, take a hard look and be willing to consider the possibilities that are right in front of you?

 There are many workable solutions if you are willing to look.

About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

Why I Retired to Thailand

March 19th, 2012  |  Published in Retire Abroad  |  2 Comments

Author bio: This is a guest post from Steve who writes about personal finance from his unique perspective as an early retiree living in Thailand at Money Infant. Once you are done here head over there and say hi. Tell him My Retirement Blog sent you!

Retiring to far off destinations is becoming more and more popular. Why not combine your retirement with an exotic locale, cheap living, great weather and a chance to explore a new culture. Plus it allows you to continue growing and keeps you from stagnating. And depending on the location you choose it also opens up many opportunites for travel and adventure right in your backyard. A growing number of entrepreneurs are choosing early semi retirement combined with a home overseas for these very reason. This is my story.

Several years ago when I was just 38 I was becoming disillusioned with my job. I actually think it started much earlier than that, but like most people I felt trapped, like I had to continue working for someone else’s company until I collected my watch and retirement lunch at 65. Little did I know at the time that a search for a better way would lead to semi retirement at 44 and a move half way around the world. Life can be funny that way.

I determined to do something to get me out of that job and in fact out of the whole corporate surroundings. As an IT professional I naturally turned to the web. In 2005 the internet was still pretty wide open and my early websites, though ugly as sin, started making me money almost immediately. I had hit on a winner! But now I began to consider; What if I could replace my income, what would I do then?

I thought about life without a steady job in my hometown and I knew I would soon become bored. What about life in another location? Wait a second, I have always loved travel and this could be the perfect way to not just get away from my job, but also to see the world. Expatriation it would be, but to what country?

Mexico and the Central American countries obviously came to mind. They had the perfect climate for me (nice and hot), interesting cultures to explore, beaches and Spanish would be easy to learn again. I booked a 3 week trip to Mexico with the intention of traveling from there to Belize as a starter to my investigations. Fate of course had other plans and hurricane Wilma came to cancel my travel itinerary. Time for plan B.

Plan B actually came pretty easily. I wanted to explore and I also wanted great beaches. I wanted a culture that would challenge me and lead me to learn new things about the world and myself. And the answer had actually been there all the time. Thailand. It was so obvious. I had actually spent quite a bit of time in Thailand in the past thanks to a job that had me visiting our offices in Singapore and India on a regular basis. And I loved the country, the people, the weather, the food and the culture. So, I rebooked everything and in March 2006 off to Thailand I went.

As fate would also have it I met my future wife on that trip. Now I had a real dilemma. I did want to move to Thailand now, for more reasons than one, but I was definitely not making enough money to live off of, even in a relatively cheap country like Thailand. In addition, I had debt up to my eyeballs. Always the planner I went to work figuring out how to:

  1. Get my new love to the U.S.
  2. Increase my income to a level where I could leave my job
  3. Pay off that debt!

In all honesty the steps to accomplish all this were fairly easy. The compromises needed were a bit difficult though. The visa and naturalization process in the U.S. are not cheap and I was already in severe debt. It took 6 months from filing, but the wait was certainly worth it. Learning about controling my spending and paying off the debt was easy too, but the actual will power required to take action was definitely more challenging. Increasing my income was also fairly easy, it just required massive amounts of effort and time on my part.

All together, in the 6 months from March 2006 to November 2006 I completed all the visa paperwork and immigration requirements for my new bride, learned how to budget and pay down debt, moved to a cheaper place to save money, started walking to work and got rid of my car and actually added to my debt. Did I mention before how expensive immigration was?

From that point we became totally focused on the move to Thailand. Starting from nearly $60k in debt in November 2006 we went to $0 debt in August 2009. We then turned all of that cash flow into savings for the upcoming move. I had promised my wife we would make it to Thailand in 5 years and I always strive to keep my promises. It actually turned out to be 4 1/2 years, mostly because I just couldn’t bear to stay at my job another day. In May 2011 I gave notice and several weeks later in June we were on our way.

I have to say that even though the process to get here was challenging, retiring early and moving to Thailand was the best decision I’ve ever made. I say “retired”, but it isn’t really that. I continue to work, but now it is on my terms and on the things that matter to me. If I succeed or fail the successes and failures are all mine. You might think that would be stressful, but has actually been freeing for me. My stress levels, health and outlook on life have never been better. Thailand has great natural beauty from the mountains to the north down to the beaches in the south, there is something for everyone. Plentiful waterfalls, fresh tropical fruits, birds and butterflies, orchids and other flowers, great diving and snorkeling, fantastic nightlife and a culture that values happiness, fun and smiles.

As an added bonus life in Thailand is much cheaper than a comparable lifestyle in the States. Our life in Bangkok would easily cost $10k a month in New York or San Francisco. Plus it is a great location for exploring the rest of SE Asia. I can’t be sure this is where we will stay forever (we both have a yearning for Mexico), but if we had to I don’t think I would be sad. As a retirement destination Thailand is pretty darn great, even if you are only semi retired.

Retiring Abroad: Living the Dream

February 28th, 2012  |  Published in Retire Abroad  |  1 Comment

Everyone has a dream in one way or another. It could be fame, riches or sporting achievement. For others, though – an increasing number, it seems – it’s simply escaping the UK and heading abroad to settle down. It’s not hard to see why, either; whether you’re going to the US, Spain, Thailand, Australia or even somewhere a little more obscure like Finland or Paraguay, you have access to some of the most amazing sights, sounds and weather that the world has to offer.

Getting there can be a bit of an issue, but it’s not always too difficult if you keep saving or have a job lined up at the other end. Of course, it’s a lot easier if you have property to your name. By attracting buyers on the market to your home the traditional way, or using specialist property-buying firms to sell your house fast, you can get real capital for a building you won’t need when you pack up and get away from the UK.

It is worth remembering that aside from considerations concerning family and friends, people moving abroad must consider pensions, tax and healthcare costs. Simply put: you need to make sure that all of the essentials are covered before you leave. If you’re a UK national, you have the right to live in any European Economic Area (EEA) country. If you want to move elsewhere, you need to firs speak with the British Embassy for further information.

From here, you must find out about welfare rights abroad. This is because many UK benefits are not in force outside of national boundaries; many others will apply only in the EU or where prior agreements were made with the UK, such as Singapore or Jamaica. You’re strongly advised by the UK government to take out health insurance to cover medical and dental treatment, as well as repatriation to the UK.

The government will also provide you with an estimate of your State Pension; HM Revenue & Customs will also hook you up with information regarding tax liabilities on income over the UK personal allowance. Obviously, UK tax payable from abroad varies depending on where you choose to live. It’s also very much worth getting independent tax advice about the benefits of offshore banking, as this could reduce your tax liability.

Remember that the likes of Citizens Advice will sort you out with any other information or recommendations before you go, but don’t rush things, wherever you go and whatever you do – you could lose a lot of money and prematurely end the dream itself.

A Handful of Travel Tips That May Change Your Life

February 27th, 2012  |  Published in Retire Abroad  |  Comments Off on A Handful of Travel Tips That May Change Your Life

Retirement not only gives you more time to go places — that travel can help you decide where you’d like to live. Although cruises, bus tours and other package trips can be fun, you’ll learn more (and incidentally, save more) by doing it on your own. That trip may change your life.

*Thinking of relocating to another country? Then visit first — long-term Stay at least two weeks, and preferably 1-2 months. (You’d be surprised how many people turn their lives upside down, sight unseen.)

*Thinking of moving to another state, because retirement expenses are said to be lower there? (Money magazine has regular features on this.) See the previous tip. Wyoming, for example, has no income tax, all right — but if you can’t handle windy expanses and a certain amount of ruggedness, don’t bother.

*Don’t fly — until you have to. Take the train or a bus. Rent a car, or even better, a motorbike. (The latter will get you on dirt roads and back areas more easily.) Either will let you go where you want to — rather than just following the crowd.

*Pack light; everything should fit in a small wheeled suitcase, duffel or backpack. Plan for three days’ clothes, items like t-shirts and knits that can be easily handwashed and hung to dry. A pair of lightweight sandals will give your feet a rest. (Wear the heavier shoes you plan to use for walking.)

*Do what the locals do. If you’re in another country, hit the beaches with the fewest tourists. Where do the locals shop, use the internet, have a beer? Go there.

*Same for restaurants. One couple looks for hand-written menu boards, especially with fish: “that means they caught it last night or this morning.” If you want cheap-but-good homestyle cooking, pick the place with the most pickup trucks outside. Or cars — period. (My folks swore by the place with the most semis — and they didn’t eat at truck stops, either.) See here for more offbeat dining tips.

*Talk to someone who lives there. Do it while standing in line, or on the beach. Ask directions. We spent a summer on a motorcycle just before moving cross-country. Our non-Hell’s Angels appearance, gear in tow, prompted an amazing number of people to ask where we were going, and suggest good camping/eating spots, as well as interesting places to visit. People love to talk about themselves, and the place they live.

You’re not fluent in the language? Learn at least a few words (Hello, goodby, how are you, thank you, where’s the bathroom?) and use your smile. Resolve to learn more. Many overseas people love to practice their English, as well.

*Buy your souvenirs at the grocery store or outdoor market. You’ll pay far less for interesting food items than at some fancypants boutique. (Fewer tchotchkes to get rid of, too, if family and friends don’t like their presents.) While you’re there, grab some sandwich fixings and fresh-baked bread for meals. (Most grocery stores will often cook meat, especially seafood, for you right on the spot.) Did you pack plastic utensils in your luggage, for just this reason? You should have.

Just make sure, if you’re overseas, not to bring fresh or dried fruit, veggies, seafood or meat home until you’re sure it will pass through customs. (Often if it’s canned or in a jar, it will.)

Even better: buy direct from the producer. Sadly, we just finished the last of ten pounds of coffee from Finca la Milagrosa in Boquete, Panama. Every cup reminded us of Sr. Tito’s warmth, friendliness…and his delicious product. We can’t wait to go back.

This post is by Staff Writer Cindy Brick. You can read more of her writing at or her personal blog.

Retiring to Panama

February 15th, 2012  |  Published in Retire Abroad  |  8 Comments

You’re looking for somewhere warm to retire — but you don’t have much money. Instead of Florida or Mexico, consider another spot, instead — Panama.

We spent two weeks driving around this lovely country last year, staying at hotels, B&Bs, and even a beachside resort. What we discovered surprised us: both good and bad.

Panama, officially known as The Republic of Panama (“Pa-na-MAH”), is the southernmost country in Central America. Back in the 19th century, it was better known as a swampland of yellow fever, until William Gorgas, with the help of Carlos Finlay and Walter Reed, discovered its cause: mosquitoes. Their treatment helped workers survive the construction of the Panama Canal, from 1904-1914. This architectural wonder returned to Panamanian control in 1999, after the U.S. controlled it for many decades.

The Canal really is wonderful, especially when the ships pass through on a rainy day, wreathed over by fog and blowing their horns a little mournfully. And if you view it from the visitor center at the Miraflores Locks, you’ll be able to not only see the current locks, which are huge — but the newest set of locks under construction — which are gigantic. (Take the top floor observation deck, and plan on a meal stop at the restaurant, if you want a more relaxed view.) Read the rest of this entry »

The Number One Retirement Fear

January 2nd, 2012  |  Published in Medical, Retire Abroad  |  13 Comments

According to an AARP study recently released, health care issues are the number one biggest fear retirees have.

Is retirement affordable?

The biggest challenge for most potential retirees is the cost of care and the ability to stay healthy through retirement. Experts claim one will need an extra $200-$300,000 to pay just for health care. That is not only a scary thought, but those amounts could delay or prevent many people from retiring.
Medical Tourism
You have options

What if there was another option?
It would be wonderful to go to the corner clinic and get what you need at affordable prices. Or to visit a medical facility and actually have a a full hour of appointment time with the doctor to yourself. Or even to be able to have the financial means to pay for a hip replacement, a full physical with X-rays and blood work, or a colonoscopy, eye glasses and dental care straight out-of-pocket.
What if you could do that today?
You can.

You are not alone

Tens of thousands of Americans and Canadians are already looking to Medical Tourism as an alternative to the high costs or excessive wait times in their native countries and are looking to places such as Thailand, India, Singapore, Costa Rica, Mexico or even Eastern Europe for solutions. Boomers more than any other age group are seeking medical care overseas to address health needs such as orthopedic procedures, cancer care and alternative treatments for chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes and age related conditions.
Currently there are seven million Americans and Canadians living abroad already taking advantage of foreign health care services and that number of expats is expected to double in the next 10 years.


What if there were affiliates to Johns Hopkins Hospitals overseas? Would that make you feel more comfortable? What if there were high standards of accreditation for hospitals and clinics? It might surprise to know that this is the case right now.
If this is the first time you have ever heard of Medical Tourism or if you have doubts that it might be an answer for you, take a look at our Medical Tourism Page and familiarize yourself with all the choices available.
Having an alternative to taking care of your health care needs could facilitate your retirement. And it could help you sleep better at night.

About the Authors
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991.

Book Review: Your Retirement Dream IS Possible – Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

December 19th, 2011  |  Published in Retire Abroad  |  1 Comment

Two decades ago at the age of 38, we left the work-for-paycheck world and forged ahead into the uncharted waters of early retirement.

People on all sides were telling us that leaving the traditional life was fanciful; it was fraught with danger and with financial and social peril awaiting us around every bend. In short, it was a dumb idea.

Seismic financial events

Fast forward twenty years later and the financial events that shook the world through the last ten years also shredded many people’s nest eggs along with their dreams of retirement.

We are told that our generation is far from being retirement-ready and are at risk of not having sufficient income to pay for basic expenses. It is a bleak, fear-filled picture that is painted by the financial media, with the only practical choices offered being either austere cuts in lifestyle or running out of money. Put that way, it seems as though our only options are between two dour shades of gray. If you buy into this glum picture, you could be missing out on some very attractive alternatives for retirement. There are options, ones you just might find to be very gratifying.

Clearly, it’s time for a new game plan.

We survived these fiscal firestorms and lived to tell the tale. We are here to let you know in our newest book that, Your Retirement Dream IS Possible, and we show you how.

The odds are in your favor

There are four key components of retirement living: investments, how much you save, your cost of living—both before and during retirement—and the emotional adjustment to your new life style. While your investments may have been whipsawed by volatile markets over the past few years, of these four components of creating a happy retirement, you have complete authority over three of them. That’s 75% of your retirement future over which you have control and we’ll take those odds any day.

From our point of view, a full and rich retirement is still possible for many people, even though their portfolios have been battered. It will take personal flexibility in how one’s retirement is defined, including possible part time work, considering medical tourism as a healthcare choice and perhaps relocating. We believe that ingenuity, flexibility, and the trend toward simple living will take on more value as their use will provide options for a quality retirement.

You have options

Rather than giving up the idea of retirement all together, perhaps a combination of alternatives will still make your dream possible and we focus on those options. It’s not where you are right now, it’s where you are headed.

In our book we talk about financial issues, how to set yourself up with spreadsheets, give you financial tools and suggest ways to manage your money. We share our portfolio with you and the lessons we have learned over the many years of being financially independent.

Moving towards a life without a regular paycheck is a daring personal journey which often encompasses surprising self-reflection. We may encounter a personal obstruction, a financial impediment, or a partnership hitch. Some older workers may need to rethink their vision of retirement, perhaps swapping their old ideal of full-time leisure for one of part-time work that feeds a passion and provides a paycheck.

We know there are times that Life tries to knock the spirit of independence out of you, but there are always opportunities. It is easy to overlook them or not take an option seriously because of some mental prejudice we have built up through the years. But what if that possibility – the one which you have routinely discarded or overlooked – is your retirement answer? 

Take control today

Never lose sight of your own innate ability to create the life you want and make it work for you.
In Your Retirement Dream IS Possible we focus on alternatives available and on giving you tools and information. We give you the plan, you make it happen.  

Take control and right your ship.

The world is filled with countless enlivening, life-enriching opportunities. Many people have already found them and there’s plenty of room left for you to do the same thing.

Dream, discover and search for your opportunities. Our book will help you find them.
About the Authors
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel.

With the wealth of information they share on their popular website, and with their free newsletter, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991.
Billy & Akaisha Kaderli have been interviewed about retirement issues by The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, The Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Clark Howard,, SmartMoney, Minyanville, FOXBusiness and countless newspapers and TV shows nationally and worldwide.

Retire in Panama

October 1st, 2010  |  Published in Retire Abroad  |  Comments Off on Retire in Panama

Panama is currently a popular destination for retirees looking to stretch their dollars and avoid cold winters. Some of the benefits of retiring in Panama include: No income tax on capital derived from offshore sources. Unlike Costa Rica, Panama has realistic requirements for retirees. Panama also has the best infrastructure in all of Central America. Top quality, well maintained roads, electrical grid, telephone, Internet and the all important safe, clean, drinking water through-out the country. Excellent medical and pharmaceutical facilities. The health care pricing structure takes the worry out of going to the doctor,needing a prescription or a stay in the hospital. If you wish, you can purchase health care insurance starting at $60 per month.

Even though Panama offers a low-cost of living most of the developments for retirees are aimed at the high-end of the market. A great choice for more reasonably priced housing is Villa Davina. They have condos starting at $79,900 and casitas at just $32,995. Villa Davina is in a peaceful, rural setting but just a short 40 minute drive and you are in the 3rd largest city in Panama. David (pronounced Da-veed or Da-beed) has all of the “hectic pace” one could want,restaurants, bars, theaters, parks, tons of shopping and let’s not forget the taxi horns. For pictures and more details visit their website at

Disclosure: This is not a paid post but I will receive a small commission if any readers decide to purchase a unit after finding out about Villa Davina here.

The Best Places to Retire Abroad

July 14th, 2010  |  Published in Retire Abroad  |  3 Comments

Forbes recently published an article revealing their picks for the top 12 foreign retirement havens. The countries included in their list are Panama, Italy, Australia, Ireland, France, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Uruguay, Malta, South Africa, and Ecuador.

The most common reason for retiring abroad is to reduce living costs but it seems that many of the countries on this list would not be much cheaper than the United States. Even Panama which is often touted as a low cost destination did not seem especially cheap to me when I visited there last year.

Of course there are many factors in choosing where to retire besides just cost of living. Some of those include residency, taxation, health care, safety and stability, weather, and how convenient it is to visit friends and family still living in the U.S. If you are considering retiring abroad you might want to check out the article on “10 Questions to ask before you retire abroad.”