Retirement Without Borders: How to Retire Abroad--in Mexico, France, Italy, Spain, Costa Rica, Panama, and Other Sunny, Foreign Places (And the Secret to Making It Happen Without Stress)

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Press: Scribner (December 9, 2008)
Publication Date:2008-12
Author Name:Golson, Barry


Barry Golson knows all about retiring abroad -- he and his wife, Thia, have lived in six different countries. 
Now they choose expatriate-friendly locales around the world for their low cost and their high quality of living and explain how to investigate and settle in each country with minimum hassle and maximum pleasure.
Taking you step-by-step through the process of researching, testing, and finally living abroad, the Golsons' practical how-to guide covers all the major issues, including health care, finances, real estate, taxes, and immigration.
Each location is profiled by an expatriate writer who has made that country his or her home and who knows how to answer all the questions about living richly and economically in some of the world's most beautiful places.


"Retirement Without Borders is for smart people who not only want to think outside the box but live outside the box as well. 
Golson doesn't just give you a road map, he gives you the compelling reasons, as well as the pitfalls and pleasures, of why the low-cost, high-quality expatriate life is one of the last great -- and rewarding -- boomer adventures." -- Peter Greenberg, travel editor of NBC's Today"Retirement Without Borders is absolutely positively the best book that I have read on why, where, and how to retire abroad." -- Ernie J.
Zelinski, author of How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free"This is a must-read for anyone considering retiring abroad or living outside the U.S.
for an extended period.
It cuts through the myths and provides balanced and hardheaded advice on every aspect of living in a different culture." -- Peter Francese, founder of American Demographics magazine"The book takes us beyond the essentials, with expats writing about their experiences, both good and bad.
An engaging and personal read, Retirement Without Borders leaves us wise and eager to try new places where we may want to spend the rest of our lives." -- Bernice Bratter and Helen Dennis, authors of Project Renewment"Perfectly timed for boomers facing fundamental questions about costs of living and quality of life." -- Andrew P.
Garvin, CEO of"An excellent, valuable resource for [those] who are seriously considering offshore retirement as well as those who may be dreaming about it." -- Booklist"The single best guide we've seen to retiring abroad." -- The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Barry Golson tried to retire, but put it on hold to launch a travel website for 
He and his wife Thia are also researching a new book on living abroad to be called Retirement Without Borders.
Golson is a former editor of the Playboy interviews, TV Guide, and Yahoo! Internet Life.
He has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Ski, and Salon.
His article for AARP on Mexico won a Lowell Thomas award.
He and Thia divide their time between New York and Sayulita, and look forward someday to re-retiring.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

TEN REASONS TO CONSIDER MOVING ABROAD     Retirement is a troublesome word to baby boomers, not just because many of us resist the idea of getting old, and not just because many of us have no intention of ceasing meaningful work. 
It is above all troublesome because so many of us, as our high-paying years begin to fade, will face one of two scenarios: • We won't be able to afford the lives we've led until now.
• Even with adequate finances, we haven't lived out some of our dreams.
Surveys have shown that as many as four out of five baby boomers have not saved enough for a comfortable U.S.
retirement, and the latest figures indicate a national savings rate approaching zero.
(In Japan, it is 20 percent.) To those of us who were banking on our house values to see us through, our parents could have told us: what goes up also comes down.
For many of us, this will mean continuing to work, even if work is no longer meaningful, in an attempt to keep the income flowing.
For others, it will mean downsizing and downscaling, often to locations not intrinsically interesting to us.
Baby boomers always did rebel against their parents, and although many of us will do the usual thing of moving to Florida and Arizona, many more will wonder if that's all there is.
Even when finances are not the prime consideration, it is natural that many of us will look forward to something different.
After a lifetime of work that has given us little spare time, skimpy vacations, and the unrelenting pressures of job security, child rearing, and getting ahead, many of us may dream about a more fulfilling, culturally richer life that we may have glimpsed only on holidays, or in our reading, or in movies, or on postcards.
You may recall the feeling: You're leafing through a magazine with alluring photographs of someone's villa in Spain, and you lean back and begin to daydream.
Or you've spent a couple of weeks at a resort in Costa Rica, and you and your spouse decide to check out the local real estate listings just out of curiosity.
Or you're winding up a sunny tour in Europe, and one of you turns to the other and says, "Why do we have to fly back next Sunday? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just live here full time?" That's how the thought creeps in.
Then you put down the magazine, or you fly back to your workaday lives, and the reality and familiarity kick back in.
Change is scary, what's known is comforting, and that's why eight out of ten Americans say they want to retire where they presently live.
Americans have a tendency toward insularity.
More than other nationalities, we value convenience, we do not speak other languages (we insist others speak ours), we're bad at geography and history, we tend to draw conclusions from the anecdotal, and -- especially compared to Europeans, who move seamlessly across each others' borders -- we don't have that much experience with other cultures.
We've strayed far from our immigrant roots.
We travel, but mostly here at home.
But not all of us.
There are no hard figures on how many Americans live abroad, but estimates range from four million to six million, military excluded.
Expats are advised to check in with their consulates when they first arrive; it's anyone's guess how many do.
We didn't.
Americans wary of being tracked by our government certainly don't.
And no one tracks part-time residents who move around.
As to how many of these Yanks abroad are retirees, we have an idea how many Social Security checks are sent abroad (about a half million), but that doesn't tell us much; most expats keep U.S.
bank accounts.
We do.
One thing is certain: the number is growing.
If you're thinking about a move, you will feel less and less alone.
In Mexico alone, some 20,000 American immigrants a month, in a reversal of the usual story, cross the border on their way down the coasts to buy, rent, or otherwise establish homes to the south.
The word is getting out, just as work is letting out for the boomer generation.
For some, it makes a lot of sense.
Here are ten reasons: 1.
A sense of adventure.
You've had a good working life, you may have launched your kids, you've lived in one place for quite a while.
There are new things you'd like to do, passions you haven't yet tapped, a yearning for change.
To reinvent yourself.
One study shows that the number one reason expats move abroad is not costs or climate but to experience a new chapter in their lives.
Change can be the grit that keeps things interesting in your retirement years.
A desire to travel, to get away.
Sure, you can quench your travel while living in the States, but how much easier would it be to get to know Latin America if you lived in Mexico or Panama? To travel around western and eastern Europe if your staging area were Barcelona, Spain? To experience Asia and Southeast Asia if you were living in Chiang Mai, Thailand? And to be able to spend real time in a new location, even put down a few roots, not just pass through.
Moreover, some of you may feel a desire -- a need -- to experience a different political climate.
Lower cost of living.
Boomers have saved an average of $50,000 for retirement, pensions are scarcer than ever, Social Security won't easily cover American-sized costs.
Prospective retirees looking at twenty-five years on a fixed income may see a train wreck ahead, as housing, insurance, and medical costs keep going off the rails.
As far as Latin America is concerned, then, the prospects are enticing: depending on what you choose, you can live on a fraction of your U.S.
In a passage much quoted on the expat online message boards, Walter Russell Mead, of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote a couple of years ago, "An income that can barely cover a double-wide in Florida can swing a condo south of the border.
For the price of a condo in Phoenix, you can often have a villa in Mexico." Well, he probably hasn't checked the price of Mexican villas lately, but we take his point: instead of downscaling, you can upscale.
In Europe, even where it's more costly to live (for most of this 2K decade, that's been a wide swath of Europe), the expenses you don't have can make the difference.
The affordable, or free, medical care you get from state-supported systems; the tax exemptions reserved especially for expats; the far cheaper insurance -- these can make Europe, still, an attractive financial choice.
One U.S.
retiree in France, while acknowledging the effect of the falling dollar against the rising euro, told us, "There are ways of living here nicely.
You can still find a house for twenty percent of the price of houses in the expensive parts of the U.S.
-- New York and Connecticut.
Did you know the prices of baguettes and coffee are fixed? And the quality of life here is so much better!" We take her point: instead of living frugally in place, you can live frugally in style.
Even if costs are similar, or higher than in the U.S., the allure of Europe's deeply rich culture and its "quality of life," as residents call it, balance out the costs for most.
In some locations in Europe, stalled or falling house prices have mirrored those in the U.S.
and may present an opportune moment to find good value.
A slower pace.
Much of the world sees Americans as hurried, harried, driven, impatient.
If we're honest, we probably see ourselves this way as well.
Whether it's our overscheduled childhoods, our frenzied school years, our single-minded careers, our fifty-week work years, our fast-food meals, and our rush to get to the next place, fast, our counterparts in other parts of the world often think us mad.
As you'll find in our Latin American chapters, expats there unanimously cite a more tranquil, slower-paced lifestyle as one of the chief pleasures of their new lives.
While it's true that the relaxed sense of time in Latin countries can drive ex-corporate warriors around the bend, successful settlers adopt it as their own.
They come to appreciate mañana as a way to slow down life's urgencies; they understand the word not so much as a specific promise as a good intention.
They stretch out their days.
They learn to stroll, not jog; to chat, not chatter; to relax, not relapse.
In southern Europe as well, despite some acceleration from keeping pace with America (and Asia) in a competitive world, life for expats is a more tranquil affair.
Among those who have made their homes among the natives of Languedoc, France, or Umbria, Italy, there is always time to linger over a market, a meal, an errand.
Even in the big southern European cities, expats report that long, languid lunches and late, meandering dinners have not yet disappeared.
The café life is alive and well.
It's not that America doesn't have a rich variety of climates.
It's just that, given a preference for sunnier skies, and the high cost of living on almost any stretch of U.S.
beach or coastline, the view from abroad offers a world of good weather to choose from.
In dozens of countries, homes can be found in lovely, sunlit locations that would have been bought and flipped twice in the United States.
Though we don't wish to be overly harsh about Florida's steaming summer days or Arizona's scorching afternoons, it's nice to contemplate year-round balmy temperatures in Cuernavaca, Mexico, spring breezes in Aix-en-Provence, France, or even the warm autumn drizzle of Verona, Italy.
Furthermore, where costs are reasonable, it's more affordable for retirees to follow their own weather, shifting headquarters inland when the coasts become too hot or heading for the hills when their city streets simmer.
Previous experience.
For some, retiring abroad is an opportunity to go back in time.
Expats who once worked abroad and liked it may find that retirement is a chance to more fully live an experience that enriched them.
Those who served in the military, who had memorable R & R experiences, are returning -- to Southe...

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Comment List (Total:16)

  •     Wonderful resource. Wish they had chosen more places to review.
  •     An excellent review of retirement options especially in Central America where the cost of living, the climate and the culture are attractive for North Americans who want to escape the winter.Lots of detail regarding taxes, cost of living, immigration, the pros and cons of buying versus renting property, etc.Overall an excellent reference book and written in a light, amusing style.
  •     The author is very quick to point out that facts in this book were in 2008, so one must take the passage of time into account for anything budget related. Given the growth of expats in recent years, there may be a big difference in what you read here. However, I am intrigued enough to do follow-up research on Latin America. I particularly appreciate the volunteer opportunities listed to check out.
  •     This book is very helpful when comparing possible retirement locations on both the 'hard' aspects such as healthcare or the practicalities of visa renewal, and the 'soft' aspects, such as (e.g. for Costa Rica,) the people are outdoorsy'. What I really like is his list of common fears so you can put a name to your own fears and know you are not alone. He also shows you how to find a solution to what you're worried about. He's encouraging and helps you get 'over the hump' from 'thinking about it' to 'beginning to prepare'.Golson helps you narrow down your options so you can find your ideal location and lifestyle with, hopefully, like minded fellow -expats. He has lived in several of the countries he profiles and has invited people currently living there for up-to-date info and advice. Know before you go is always a good plan. A very useful addition to my 'retiring abroad' library.
  •     This goes along with "The Costa Ricans" in helping me better understand the country prior to moving there. The only reason for giving it one star less than "The Costa Ricans" is that it covers other places as well as Costa Rica (Mexico, Panama, France and Spain, etc).
  •     Very helpful!
  •     Excellent
  •     This is a well thought out and well writen book. The author is a fan of retiring outside of the US but parts of the book seem to try to talk you out of it. Which is a good thing.
  •     Great view and reality check!
  •     Easy, good reading and helps with where to start when wanting to retire abroad.
  •     great
  •     It was enlightening.
  •     This is a perfect book to help you sort through places to retire in, what to think about as you begin making your choices and decisions on future retirement plans. It is shock full of information on places, reasons why it is a good place and what to watch for. If you are considering retiring in another country read this book. I couldnt ask for much better information than I received reading it and I continue to use it, to refer back as I try and make those choices it speaks of before deciding to retire somewhere else than America. If you are on a journey deciding where and when, and how to retire in another country, read this book.
  •     A good overview of the characteristics of some of the most popular retirement destinations for North American expats. A must read for anyone wanting to retire from North America but not sure where to go. It gives you enough information with respect to the most important considerations to enable you to make your "short-list" of those countries that you may wish to make your new home.
  •     Otherwise it is a good book for a start. Leaving the US is not for everyone. Of the ex-pats from the US that go to Costa Rica which is very nice in many aspects, Most return to...
  •     Mostly for Americans, but nice idea

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