Is an expat retirement your dream? 3 things to plan for before making the move

By Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant

If your wildest dreams came true, where would you choose to live your retirement? Interestingly not all of us would choose to remain where we are even if it meant being further away from loved ones. Whilst endless summers, brisk mountain air or simply living debt free may seem like nothing more than a pipe dream, a retirement abroad is becoming more common than you may realise.


There are tax, pension and visa implications to consider prior to relocating for retirement and I will leave it to the experts such as a trusted financial advisor or immigration specialist to advise on these aspects, but there are certainly benefits that many retirees are embracing in living their next chapter overseas.

Being an avid traveller I have come across retirees who have relocated to Chiang Mai (Thaliand), Bali (Indonesia), Cahuita (Costa Rica) and of course to my beloved backyard, Australia. They are enticed by the lower costs of living, more appealing climates and welcoming communities. A bold move you may think, but what these retirees all have in common is the desire for a great quality of life and a willingness to challenge the assumption of what retirement ‘should’ look like.

As such I was thrilled when Irish-based currency exchange company CurrencyFair approached me to showcase my home region, the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia as a great retirement lifestyle destination [Read it here].

This was an easy task as since moving to the Coast, I’ve never looked back! I have no aversion to city living, but for me nothing beats early morning surfs, waving to familiar faces and the lack of traffic congestion!

It is also apt that I should be interviewed by CurrencyFair, a company simplifying the process of transferring money to and from new countries for expats, as I gaze out over the Indian Ocean from the south coast of Sri Lanka!  


There are multiple benefits to relocating overseas in retirement many of which are finance-related but what I have found is that those who do best in retiring abroad are those who complement their financial planning with consideration of the non-financial aspects of life in retirement.

If you are thinking about a retirement abroad, here are 3 non-financial elements to incorporate into your planning to truly create a retirement you will love to live!

1.       Plan for your ‘operating rhythm’ of retirement

Ask yourself what life will look like on a day-to-day basis - what will you actually do with your days once you have unpacked? With potentially 20-30 years of retirement to look forward to, it’s important to find a balance between relaxation and purpose when finding your groove. This might include volunteering, joining a sporting club or taking up a new hobby.

If you enjoy keeping fit and training for triathlons or fun runs, ensure a climate that entices you to get active and that there are local events to enter. Alternatively if you enjoy the creative arts, seek a location with a thriving arts community and opportunities to showcase your talents. You want your destination to tick the retirement living boxes.

2.       Determine how you will stay connected to the people at home

Your friends and family are a strong part of your identity and history and so it is important to maintain these relationships. Fortunately technology is developing at an exponential rate and so it’s now easier than ever to stay in touch. Use this to your advantage!

  • Use email, Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat (whatever platform you’re comfortable with) to stay in touch
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the technology available? Ask one of your grandchildren to give you a tutorial. Not only is technology intuitive to them but it’s also a great way to connect before you leave


3.       Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and get involved in the people and community around you.

The transition into retirement can take time for anyone but can be even more rocky by needing to establish oneself in a new community also.

To anyone struggling to adapt to retirement abroad, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and say yes to each invite that comes your way. Sure it’s uncomfortable. Sure, you may not enjoy everything you try, but know that you’ve tried something different, expanded your social network, and you just never know where that initial invite might lead…!

Further to this, mix with people of all ages. If you only spend time with other retirees, you risk becoming immersed in conversations focused on the ageing process (and the associated ‘woe is me’ grumbling) and missing out on the richness that the broader community offers.


Baby Boomers are becoming the ‘me timers’ with the time and space to do the things they dream of in retirement. So be bold, make changes and by all means make that retirement abroad a reality but make sure you plan for both the financial and the emotional and wellbeing components of life in retirement.


I wish you the very best on your journey,




If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read The Best Places To Live in Australia (From The People Who Live There) and Is happiness really what we’re all after in retirement?

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