A Fresh Start in Latin America May be Just What you Need...
May 17, 2013
Depending on what your favorite news station is, chances are they either talk about how the economy is making a comeback or how it’s still in the doldrums, and quite frankly… both sentiments are true, depending on where you live.
The bottom line is that the market is incredibly unpredictable, and that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon. This equates to hordes of would-be retirees losing significant amounts from not only their financial portfolios, but also the value of their homes. This lack of financial comfort has been (and continues to be) stressful and cause for anxiety among this group.
But maybe there’s something to be said about being cynical. Similar to how those recovering from a natural disaster (hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis) are forced to put their lives back together by reacquiring lost or damaged assets and rebuilding their homes, your retirement dreams may need a reassessment.
Transforming Your Retirement Dream
Whereas many cringe at the thought of the huge dent in their retirement fund over the course of the past few years, there is a silver lining. Those that have approached their lifestyle from a common sense perspective – not living beyond their means, etc – are now on-trend with the rest of the newly frugal world. Is that so awful?
Being forced into a reality check and re-prioritizing isn’t such a bad thing. Typically, when you’re enjoying a comfortable, carefree existence, you don’t do that. When everything is hunky-dory, there are few who would take the time to reflect on what they have and what they truly value. Instead, they continue to indulge and spend like there’s no tomorrow.
Well, tomorrow is here.
It’s funny how we discover our own resilience when put into a position where we’re forced to make tough choices or tradeoffs about our future. But again… what’s wrong with that? Knowing yourself and what really matters to you is what makes you who you are. Dwelling on the past and the ‘what ifs’ will only drag you down further… thinking ahead and moving forward is much more beneficial.
Assessing Your Situation
Maybe you lost all equity in your home, suddenly realized how far in debt your really were or made some not-so-great investment decisions. On the flip-side, maybe you weren’t significantly affected financially, but are instead stuck in a job that you really don’t like and will have to stick with for longer then you had wanted.
No doubt about it, just thinking about the volatility can be enough to bring on a panic attack for some… but what can you do about it?
Cut your fear into bite-size pieces: if you let it, fear will take over your life. The best way to deal with your dread and anxiety is to face it head-on and deal with it. If you’re currently living a life that is unsustainable and dreams of retirement are slowly going down the drain, consider getting a grip on your spending and perhaps even down-sizing your current home. Even small changes will have an impact and are better then treading water. Being optimistic is vital when you’re dealing with planning the future, and positive thinking will get you everywhere while you compile your ‘plan’.
Contemplate a move: you may not have considered retiring outside of your current town, or even country, but if affordability is a concern, there are many countries – specifically in Latin America – that you can live incredibly comfortable in for a fraction of the price to live the same way in North America. Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador… all of these countries have something different to offer, and none of them will put a financial strain on your savings. And not only is the cost of living in these countries low (you can easily live on your monthly Social Security or CPP cheque), but they’re tropical, friendly and offer a pace of life conducive to retirement… regardless of whether you picture relaxed and laid-back or active and adventurous.
And, despite some of the sensationalized news story’s you may see on television, these countries are very safe. The reality is, every country has an element of danger and the US and Canada are no exception. It’s up to you to be cognoscente of your surroundings and use your common sense. (Go here to read more about safety in Latin America)
Make your own decisions; don’t succumb to peer pressure: moving to another country (or really, just change in general) can bring an element of anxiety and it’s a natural reaction to confide in friends and family. This can be reassuring, but it can also have a negative effect. A move abroad can be intimidating for your loved ones, and they may point out struggles involved with such a change. This can end up leaving you with even more questions and doubt then when you originally spoke with them.
Remember why you’re making this change… it’s for YOU! Keep your priorities straight, and gently make it clear to them why you’re moving. It’s also important to remember that with today’s technology, it’s incredibly easy to keep in touch with family and friends via the internet and cell phones. Both of which are readily available and reliable throughout Latin America.
Consider other avenues for healthcare: for many folks, healthcare is their number one priority when it comes to retirement years. With rising health insurance premiums in the US, comes stress and anxiety of how they will afford maintaining their health. This then becomes counter-productive, since stress and anxiety are major factors in declining health! We say, why wait around for the US government to figure things out? There are other options available to you that can help ease pressure and give you some peace of mind when it comes to your health. The term ‘medical tourism’ is gaining huge momentum, and Costa Rica is one of the leading Latin American countries embracing people from all over the world looking for affordable, safe and reliable medical care - from dentistry and cosmetic surgery, to everything in between. Just remember, even if you choose not to retire to Latin America, the options available in this part of the world go beyond sunny skies and warm ocean waters.
Fearing the unknown, and conquering it: retirement (aka – leaving the workplace) can be a very emotional time for people. Especially if you’ve been employed by the same company for many years; years of hard work, building relationships and having imbedded your life within your place of work can leave you feeling with a lack of direction and self-definition after you retire – or even when contemplating retirement. This is when it’s important to remember that life is nothing but a series of decisions, and that you are simply entering a new chapter in your life. If you are a planner, and began contemplating your options prior to retirement, these feelings will no doubt be a tad abated. However, if you haven’t considered life after retirement, those feelings of anxiety may rear their ugly head at the thought of ‘not contributing’ and leaving your daily routine. We say, what better way to grab the bull by the horns, than get away from it all! Downsizing your current home, selling off unnecessary material items and purchasing a cozy home in Latin America is a very liberating experience! Not only do you benefit from the obvious advantages (warm weather, fresh fruit, new cultures, etc), but you also gain a whole new appreciation of life and your control over it. Taking a scary and unknown situation and turning into a positive and downright fun experience is energizing and cathartic.
So what are you waiting for? Get the ball rolling by visiting one of our development partners in Latin America!