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Bankrate's 2008 Retirement Guide
The road ahead
There's no perfect plan for everyone but keeping with solid fundamentals is a wise path for most to follow.
The road ahead
Retirement abroad: Cheap but different
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Keep in mind that exchange rates change, so keep your options open, says Knorr. While the strength of the U.S. dollar made it relatively cheap to live in Europe a decade ago, today it's "exorbitant." One good trick is to check out the price of local rentals and homes, says Knorr. "Look at enough of them and you get an idea" of the costs of housing and standard of living, she says.

To consider this kind of move you need details -- and lots of them. Beyond the exchange rate, other important considerations include the standard of living, the access and cost of health care and health insurance, rental and food prices, culture, infrastructure, taxes on foreign retirees, whether you would be allowed to work part-time, the estate laws, plus the attitude toward foreigners in general and Americans in particular.

You want a good quality of life, access to first-rate medical care, and a country that is economically and politically stable.

You also need to learn as much as you can about the local laws and policies. Some countries make it easy for retirees by not taxing money earned overseas and allowing at least part-time employment for foreign residents. And, just in case, you might also want to learn about estate laws.

You can cover a lot of ground on the topic of moving abroad thanks to book stores, libraries and the Internet.

"The Internet is a fabulous tool," says Knorr, who recommends a good Web search to start gathering information.

Moving abroad? Check out:
The CIA World FactBook -- Regularly updated and full of practical information on a wide variety of topics.
The U.S. Department of State site -- Includes information on special warnings and health issues most countries.
American Citizens Abroad, ExPatExchange.com, EscapeArtist.com, and ExPatForums.org -- sites where ex-patriots and prospective ex-pats exchange information.
For more information read Bankrate's "6 keys to retiring overseas."

Be an astute consumer when it comes to your research, says Golson, who also suggests the "Retire in ..." series of books. "Beware of (online) outfits that give you good, useful information but the purpose is to sell you real estate," he says. And take the grain-of-salt approach if you communicate with strangers through online sites, too, he says. "You never know what the agenda is for anyone," Golson says. "Judge that the way you would anything else in life."

-- Posted: Nov. 10, 2008
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