Planning ahead: you can’t just run away from home

So you’re thinking you might just want to pull up stakes and head for an exotic, romantic location on a more-or-less permanent basis. Well, you’re not alone. In fact, retirees have been heading for foreign shores for years, in search of lower costs of living without sacrifice – and they’re finding it in places like Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Thailand, Malaysia and others.

These retirees have an advantage – no need to hold down a job. But in the past few years, the proliferation of online-based jobs has made it possible for even those of us of working age to move abroad.

You can’t just pack up and go, however. You do need to plan ahead.

Need to plan ahead

First, there are some considerations to be made. For example, what about family? If you have kids, grandkids, siblings, or elderly parents, it can be difficult to move so far away. Suddenly a visit isn’t just a day trip or even a weekend – it’s an expensive plane trip. When you’re working out your new budget, you’ll want to include enough money to make several trips home each year.

PlanningaheadNext, consider where it is you want to live. Will it be a “low cost country” or a quaint European village? While you might think a low cost of living is the best deal, remember that in many of these countries, the locals live in poverty, while Americans live like kings. If seeing that kind of poverty on a daily basis will bother you, then perhaps Central America and the like should not be your first choice.

Infrastructure is important

Some other considerations when choosing a new place to call home is the  infrastructure. Will you have access to adequate health and dental care, or will you need to come home to visit your dentist? Also, you might want to look for places that have established ex-pat communities. You may think you’ll be happy living so far from home, but the truth is, months away from familiar faces and voices and yes, even television shows, can be stressful. Better to find a place where at least you’ll have someone to talk to.

A search online for forums and communities devoted to the ex-patriot lifestyle will turn up several online resources where people living outside their home countries congregate. They’ll help answer questions you might have, plus give you the inside scoop on what it’s really like to live abroad. Remember, vacationing is different from living, so it pays to have a guide to help you learn the ropes.

What to do with your home?

Finally, you’ll most likely need to liquidate before hitting the road. Will you sell your home and furniture or rent it out while you’re gone? If you decide to rent your home, is there someone close that you can trust to keep an eye on it? You might consider using a property management service, too, but keep in mind the bill for that will eat into your profits.

Living abroad is a dream that’s far more attainable now than it has ever been. The ability to earn money online with nothing more than a laptop means you truly can live anywhere you like – you just need to do a little advanced planning.

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