A decade ago anyone who announced plans to spend their golden years beyond U.S. borders was often looked at askance as a bohemian adventurer—or worse, someone with something to hide. But the crash of 2008 is still having a transformative effect.

It’s no secret that “retirement” is a touchy subject nowadays. Costs are up, savings are down, and the public is generally pessimistic according to the 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey. As a recent SmartMoney article relates, one increasingly popular solution, although it might not be an easy one, is to escape domestic problems and costs by going global and retiring abroad.

It’s hard to say just how many retirees are living offshore. They aren’t counted in the census, and many go to great pains to fly below the radar, but according to the Social Security Administration the number of retirees taking benefits overseas has risen 32% since 2002. Some end up in small French villages or other cultured corners, many more retire to exotic regions like Thailand, while still others fly south to warmer climes in South America, happy to endure the rainy seasons to live where they can stretch out their dollar in style.

The potential pay-off is great, especially if you have a taste for tropical drinks, but there are a number of concerns too. Simply put, it’s an entirely different place. Moving out of the way of rising costs in the US may mean moving into the path of hurricanes, into entirely different cultural waters with conflicts you don’t understand, and a potential web of paperwork and legal technicalities.

Be cautious of scams, particularly the yet-to-be-completed “development.”  Investors have been known to abandon such projects, leaving an incomplete, insolvent, or undersold development that may not fulfill the promises of the pamphlet.

The Smart Money article is quite lengthy and detailed. If an off-shore retirement destination is enticing you, I suggest reading this – and many others. Due diligence is the key to a successful off-shore transition.

 

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