After spending 3 months on this popular Indonesian island I have a good grasp of costs to live here. All of these numbers are just for a single retired man. No dog. No wife. No kids. Just me. Here we go with Bali cost of living… The cost to rent on this island, in popular areas, can be absolutely amazing low and can go up as high as “are you kidding me”. For example I booked a few hotel rooms, normally referred to as a “home stay”, for as little as 7 USD per night and this included breakfast!! I Read more…
Options and my Short List
I have already decided that continuing to live in the USA is not an option for me. I do not agree with the USA government and their “peacekeeping” missions which end up killing hundreds of thousands of civilians all over the Middle East. Nor do I subscribe, anymore, to the huge consumerism in America, the spending is just silly both at corporate and at a personal level. Then their is affordability for me and for a lot of us we just can not afford THE SAME lifestyle on a pension as we once did in our high income earnings days. I do not fancy living in a mobile home in Arkansas and having no money for heat on cold winter days. Remember: winters are expensive on our budgets: clothing, heating, well constructed home cost more and so on. So my choice is to leave the USA, but where to go?
At 60 I began reading International Living an online magazine that supplies information about all the ins and outs of where to retire and why. A word of warning about the site that I learned over recent time: use the articles as a guideline and not gospel, the company pushes places that they often have a vested interest in. I also searched the internet for expat blogs I found sites such as: ExpatForum and ExpatExchange
My list of requirements is; AFFORDABLE, GREAT WEATHER, GOOD INFRASTRUCTURE AND SOMEWHAT POLITICALLY STABLE. Since most of Europe and the USA is not that stable in many senses I suppose “SAFE” would be a better word. My short list ended up being: CROATIA, PORTUGAL, MEXICO and ECUADOR.
The winner for now will be: MEXICO. Now I need to narrow down where in Mexico. First though, more about “why” Mexico. Logistically Mexico is easy. For example moving to Ecuador would require some serious thought on what to ship with me. I currently live in Tucson, USA and so I can drive to Mexico and take the kitchen sink with me if I want to. Next reason is that Mexico is BIG and so plenty of climate, topography and cities to choose from. Portugal, Croatia and Ecuador and are small countries and not so many choices. Lastly the Mexican Economy is doing very well at the moment, in fact all trends for Mexico are getting better. Crime is a HOT topic when talking about Mexico and so I checked the facts thoroughly and found it is not as bad as the USA news media portrays. Imagine that; the USA media exaggerating, what a surprise! However should I wish to participate in the distribution of cocaine then Portugal would be a much better choice since in Mexico I would be killed very shortly after my arrival.
So what are YOUR priorities to being an expat? No sense in living in the cheapest place on Earth, somewhere in India I guess, if that place is also crime infested or gets blown off the map every year with Cyclones or whatever. So Sharpen your pencil and make a list of “what is important to me” for a place to live overseas.
For me… Mexico here I come!
Turning 60, a Paradigm Shift
All my adult life have looked and felt younger than the year printed on my British birth certificate. Turning 40..no big deal.. 50.. now married with 3 children.. still no big deal.
Turning 60. Ok, now THIS is getting interesting.
By 60 both my parents were dead, my 2 best friends and a few more friends along the way had also passed. I was also divorced and needed a much smaller home. My life was downsizing big time and I embraced the changes.
Plus in my 60’s, people had begun RETIREMENT; a huge shift in the paradigm of my life and for millions of others. I am speaking of “others” that are/were fortunate enough to live in a country where private and government pensions are the norm. However many of my friends were constantly checking their 401k plans and using “retirement calculators” on a regular basis. Not me, what would be the point, I would just get depressed! So how was I going to fund my life after 60? Many think they have to work until they are dead. Many others think that they would rather work that do nothing.
This website is full of ideas on how to change your thinking of what you need and where you can live for far less and still enjoy a safe and happy life.
My income as an engineer probably maxed out around 2008 and went lower from that point. However since my needs were less, since I was divorced and living alone, I was doing OK.. but unlike the US government I could see that my current lifestyle back around 2010 was not sustainable with my future pension income and changes would have to be made. A huge shift was in the wind. But how? What? Where? So my search for the best place to retire, for me, was now my focus.
Can you the reader can relate to this? Was turning the earlier decades no big deal and 60 IS?! So, what are you going to do now? Literally, what are you going to do now? I contend that many, many people agonize over which big screen TV to buy or which car to buy and give little thought to the BIG things in their lives. Things such as where do you really want to live and enjoy the rest of your life and what is it you will actually be doing while not having to work? You do realize that we get a chance at TWO lives-in-one nowadays? My parents were dead at 69 and 78, enjoying about 10 years of actual retirement. Me, I am hoping to live until 92 (I will die on a Tuesday, not sure which one) which means a whopping 30 years of not having to work.. a thing called retirement.
The mortgage on my last marital home could have supported several hundred, thousands perhaps, people living in a village in a Third World Country. All we all need is to change our way of thinking. For me I am going to think about what I absolutely can not live without. That list will include a comfortable bed with nice linens, a bathroom, a comfy place to sit, good quality food, a few happy friends and a computer so that i can continue this website :). Things that would be nice to have: a kitchen, a patio and so forth. Then a list of things I do NOT want in this huge shift in the wind: a crime ridden area, a polluted area and so forth.
So I am one of the lucky ones. First off, I am ALIVE, second I have great health and third I have a pension to look forward to. How about you? How will you make plans for your “golden years”? Does using on of those “retirement calculators” make you ill? Please make a comment below and share with us all what thoughts you have on this topic of turning 60 and retirement.
I was never a good saver, I was careful with money and how I spent it, but saving for a rainy day, nope, I was not the best saver at all. I lived for the day mostly, spending huge amounts of money on travel especially to visit my family in England and Scotland, whilst i was living in Australia, USA or Mexico. I spent a ton of money on travel just for the fun of it all, this 40 years of experience helps me add credence to this website. Right?
I never gave retirement, the idea of not having to work but still getting an an income, much thought. I never stressed over it because somehow I just knew that all would be well, that “the Universe would supply me with what I need”. Yep I have actually believed this line of thought for about 20 years now and so what we receive in our life is related to what we think we are worth and think about. Did you ever read The Secret? This book covers what I just mentioned, which for me is an amazing gift that we all have if only we knew it! I digress…
So, rushing headfirst into 60 years old, I began getting statements from the USA Social Security Administration that informed me that if my income trend stays the same from 55 until when I retire then my pension payment was going to be about $1,800. A month! Woah…. and even MORE if I delayed retirement.
I always thought that the SSA, in the USA, pension was around $500 a month and you were such a loser and totally screwed if that is all you had to look forward to in your 60’s. But $1,800+ a month at the earliest possible retirement age of 62, now THIS gives me options. I think. To think, in my 20’s and 30’s I tried like heck to get that “FICA thing” removed from my paycheck deductions. So glad I wasn’t successful. That was my retirement fund and I WAS saving after all. Lucky me.
Many people are FORCED, thank goodness to pay a tax which funds their government pension, in the USA this is FICA tax. The more you earn the more you pay in tax and the more you receive back with this forced savings account with your government in Europe, USA et al. Unfortunately, the ceiling of how much you get back as an high income earner, pre-retiremnt is much lower than those with lower incomes. See this chart for an explanation:
For example, where I worked in the USA for 30+ years this chart shows a “replaced” retirement income from the government of about 33%. I wish!! Mine is around 25% of my pre-retirement income. Low income earners seem to be better off, but not necessarily, what they get back in the case of USA is 38%, but of their low pre-retirement income. Make sense?
So what does this mean for us all? Well, this is good news for low income earners prior to retirement. Because their lower income could only support a lower standard of living, they are more likely to be happier in their retired years with their government paycheck. High income earners that rely solely on a government pension, well, you will have the biggest adjustments to make. Not at all a horrible position but your attitude and acceptance of what must be, is paramount to enjoying your golden years. In expat communities in Ecuador, Mexico and Thailand there are many miserable expats, who are often complaining about their lives and how unlucky they are with love, money and health. I suggest they look around at the people who are indigenous to their new home country and count their blessings!!
A side note: If you are young and no where near retirement age, then do yourself and friends a favour: pay retirement tax! As it turns out I have many friends who were realtors, business owners and other self employed positions. They paid ZERO FICA, which means they have zero pension from the SSA (Social Security Administration). Assuming they have zero savings then what happens to them? Its not pretty at all.
So if you are pushing 60 and have worked most of your life in the USA or most European countries, you are probably not as bad off as you think. Be willing to make some changes and sort out your priorities and your Golden Years will be waaaay better than you ever could have ever imagined possible. I know mine are. So far.