Expat Communities Ease Living Abroad in Retirement
As many as 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day and that will continue for the next 19 years. Most retirees will stay put in their home and community. As many as 12 percent of retirees will consider spending retirement living abroad. Moving to a foreign country can be a huge life adjustment, but living in expat communities can help the transition.
No, you won’t find the traditional retirement communities as created by Del Webb in foreign countries. But, there are expat communities where Americans, Canadians and Europeans have gathered.
Ajijic, around Lake Chapala, Mexico is an example of an expat community. Moving to a place where there are other retirees can be extremely helpful in making a successful transition. There is less burden to learn the local language and culture just to survive.
There are sure to be purists who believe that moving to expat communities defeats the purpose of living abroad. While there may be some truth to that, learning the language and how to function with the day-to-day activities in a foreign country can be quite a challenge.
One American described his move to the south of France. He moved into a small, quaint community with people who had lived there for generations. Fitting in was only part of the challenge. Not understanding the subtleties of the French culture was a constant strain, as well as understanding the daily transactions that need to occur to survive in a community.
While there is no right or wrong way to move abroad, the transition is much simpler when there are other people from your country of origin. For people moving to Ajijic, Mexico, learning Spanish is a choice, not a requirement. It’s easier to find people who share your values and interests. People who have retired to Ajijic can spend as little as $50 a day to cover all living expenses in a comfortable environment.
A primary reason for living abroad is the lower cost. While this isn’t true in all cases, it is one of the attractions for retirees. In addition to cost, think about what is important to you in your retirement life. The more you understand your wants and needs, the easier it will be to decide if living in expat communities is the best option.