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If retirement is coming up in the next few years, you’re probably already starting to think about what life after work will look like. After decades of living within the constraints of work and family, it’s your time – a chance to do what you want, and go where you want. And for some that might be outside of Australia, permanently.
Retiring overseas can be appealing for many reasons – the adventure, a fresh start, experiencing a different culture, or just because it’s cheaper. But whatever is driving your decision, the most important thing on your to do list will probably be your new home. So here’s some things to consider if you don’t plan to call Australia home:
Before you get too carried away with the idea of retiring to foreign shores, make sure you understand the practicalities of the country you want to move to. There may be a number of political, economic and cultural matters, including potential corruption or excessive red tape, to get to grips with. Some countries don’t allow foreigners to buy property, or force you to set up a company to buy a property. In others you don’t own the property itself, you acquire it through a lease arrangement (and the government of the country may be able to force a buy back at any time.)
Understanding the local market is also vitally important, there may be a number of political, economic and social aspects to get to grips with, and this is when you may want to consider a buyer’s agent, who can help deal with local real estate agents and represent your needs on the ground. They could also help you avoid getting ripped off, although the rule of thumb that if a price seems too good to be true it probably is holds true.
Google will be your friend when it comes to finding an agent, but as with procuring any service, do your due diligence and make sure you’re getting what you pay for. Ask them to provide references from satisfied clients, or try expat chat groups and Facebook pages for referrals.
We’re going to assume that you’ve already chosen which country you want to live in (because really that’s a whole other conversation), but have you thought about where? Do you want to be close to the beach, in the middle of the city, or in a more isolated rural area? Leaving the big smoke may sound idyllic, but what will you do with yourself when the extended holiday turns into everyday life?
When choosing where exactly you want live, you also need to think a little more practically than just the view you want from your bedroom window every morning.
Once you’ve picked a location, the next big decision is what kind of property do you want? Size is probably the biggest consideration. If it’s just the one or two of you, something smaller is the obvious choice, but don’t forget to consider guests. Family and friends will probably be visiting, so you’ll need to think about where they’ll fit. On the other hand, if you want to discourage long-term visitors, maybe the smaller the better!
Upkeep and maintenance costs are also big factors to consider, especially when deciding on extras such as a pool or being on a large block of land. You need to consider whether you’ll be able to do any work required yourself, or if your budget will allow for you to pay others to come in and do the work for you.
Don’t forget the big picture
Of course buying a house is only one small part of an overseas relocation. If you are thinking of taking the plunge there’s a lot of other considerations such as income, tax and health care to think about, so why not check out our guide to retiring overseas. And if you want a bit more inspiration, read Michael and Barbara’s story and discover how they’re making the most of retired life in the Philippines.
Your checklist if you are considering retiring abroad.
QSuper’s new retirement product does more than provide an income for life.
The downsizer scheme will be extended to people aged 60 and above.
QSuper's Head of Product and Services Ben Hillier shares the reasons and research behind QSuper’s innovative, new Lifetime Pension that gives retirees confidence they will have income that won’t run out.