When shopping for a new home for your retirement overseas, the most important thing is to follow your instincts. Allow yourself to be led by your heart and your gut. Choose a new home for your new retirement life in another country because you like it and it feels right to you.
You aren't buying a retirement home to make money. Perhaps the property you buy ultimately will be worth more than you're paying for it and turn out to have been a smart investment, but don't allow that agenda to get in your way.
Of course, there are also many practical considerations when making any real estate purchase. Here is a list of some quantifiable things to consider when thinking through the purchase of a new home in another country. The answers to these questions will help you to pin down the lifestyle you imagine for yourself in retirement. You can then work backward from that lifestyle to the house that would best support it.
1. How much space will you need? Do you want an apartment or a house? One bedroom or two? (You probably won't need more than two.) Two levels or only one? A guest room or even a guest house? Will you have guests often, for example? Will you want them to be able to stay with you, or would you prefer if they came and went from a hotel nearby?
2. Do you want a front yard, a back garden, or a swimming pool? All of these things require care and maintenance.
3. Do you want to be in the heart of downtown or out in the country?
4. Do you want a turn-key, a renovation project, or something in-between?
5. Do you like the idea of living in a gated community, or would you prefer a more integrated setting, such as a neighborhood where you could become part of the local community? This is a key consideration. Going local means you have to learn the local language (if you don't speak it already). Or perhaps you'd prefer to be off on your own with undeveloped acres between you and your nearest neighbor. In this type of rural setting you will need to build your own in-case-of-emergency infrastructure.
6. Consider traffic patterns and transportation. Where you base yourself determines whether you'll need to invest in a car, which is an important budget consideration.
7. Consider the convenience factor. How far is it to shopping, restaurants, nightlife, parking, and the nearest medical facility?
8. Do you want a furnished home? You may have no choice but to buy unfurnished (unless you buy, say, from another expat who's interested in selling his place including all contents). Buying unfurnished means you'll need to purchase furniture locally or ship your household goods from home.
9. What's your budget? This is the most practical guideline of all, of course. Be clear on your finances before you start shopping, and, if your budget is strict, don't be tempted to consider properties outside your price point. You'll only be disappointing yourself unnecessarily.
10. Finally, ask yourself what kind of view you'd like from your bedroom window each morning. This can be an effective way to focus on something important that might otherwise be overlooked until it's too late.
Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas--Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.
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