So you’ve had the kids, you’ve had the pets, every one’s raised and moved on. You’re done with the long hours, your partner and you finally have time to reconnect, and the house is empty…and much larger than you need.
So what’s the plan from here? For an increasing number of Australians, the plan at this stage of life has become moving to Chiang Mai, Penang, Ubud, or some other Southern Asian province. Why? The way the currency exchange works, you can often live a lot better for a lot less money in these locations.
Sounding tempting? I don’t blame you, but I do want to make sure you’ve thought everything through. It’s important to prepare mentally, financially, and educationally for any life change, let alone a substantial continental move.
First, let’s look at the reasons people have decided to go.
- The cost of living in Southeast Asia is between 50-80% lower than the cost of living in Australia.
- Southeast Asia is still contained in the same time zone as Australia, making it easy to stay in touch with family and friends.
- We also live in the era of cheap airlines, meaning there’s a lot of opportunity to still see friends and family physically.
These are just a few of the reasons that people look to make the move, but it isn’t everything that should be considered. We’re going to take some of the next few sections to look at the factors that should play a role in your preparation for this kind of move.
What does it mean for your finances?
On top of the costs of moving itself (which will need to include airfare and transportation of your possessions), you need to consider how this will impact your financial future.
Will your investments be able to manage themselves, or can you find some one to look after them? If you have a super fund, can you convert it to a complying fund? What are the superannuation penalties, if any, to living oversees. Will you still get your pension? These are all questions you need to answer before you can call yourself financially ready for a move of this magnitude.
You should likely also take this time to plan exactly how you’ll be staying in touch with your family. Will you be hooking up on Facebook or Skype? Will you need to learn Viber before you go? Who will be visiting who the first time, and can you and your loved ones afford to do so? There are plenty of low cost ways to stay in touch, so don’t be afraid, just make a plan and get familiar with the tools of that plan.
Next to finances, one of the most important factors in a move is your health insurance. You need to ensure you will be internationally covered in the event of any type of medical emergency, and you need to make sure that this insurance isn’t so expensive it takes away the benefit of moving.
If you’re stuck as to where to search, look into sites that deal in comparative coverage, showing you multiple prices in one search (like medibroker). Don’t be afraid to shop around, you’re buying your own peace of mind here.
Securing a visa
If you are looking into an extended stay overseas, another thing you need to look into is a visa. Visas are far easier to secure while you still live in Australia, so do your research here to save yourself from having a panic there.
A good place to start is with retirement visas, which can be obtained from Indonesia, Malaysia, or Thailand. On top of your retirement visa, you also need to look into getting a long stay visa in Europe unless you already have a European passport. Visas can be a big part of determining the plausibility of a move.
To rent, or buy?
Renting is often the ideal for several retirees. You don’t have to worry about property taxes, or complicated legal rules, or the complexities that come with trying to own property internationally. On top of this, rent is often extremely cheap, so you can live comfortably without having the hassle of ownership.
If you’ve been doing your research and have considered these factors above, it can safely be time to decide whether this move is right for you. Best of luck in your retirement!