Ask Clark: What should I look for in a retirement destination?

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Businessman Brainstorming About Retirement Planning
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In addition to the question of when you’re going to retire, where is a big issue.

You may vacation to different places and think it would a great place to retire. There’s also no shortage of ‘Best places to retire‘ kind of lists that come out all the time.

My take? You should consider personal factors first when choosing a retirement spot.

RELATED: The best and worst states to retire to in 2018

Consider more than just cost and weather

First up is the friends and family factor. If you go move somewhere else that’s thousands of miles away from close family, it could be isolating and lonely.

Are you going to be able to establish a network of friends in your new destination?

Being isolated means you’ll be more prone to health issues and financial ones, too. Financial abuse of the elderly and vulnerable is an ugly and real threat.

Another factor to consider is the cost, accessibility and quality of health care. Did you know, for example, that you could be paying more for drug prescriptions based on where you live in the country? That’s yet one more thing to consider.

Meanwhile, there’s a big difference between vacationing somewhere and living somewhere. So if you’ve vacationed somewhere and said, “This is great! I would love to live here…” I’d tell you to be careful what you wish for.

One of my key rules is you should always rent first for six months, a year or even two years if you’re thinking about relocating for retirement. If it turns out that you don’t like it, at least you’re not all-in owning a home that you’ve now got to get rid of.

Special considerations if you’re thinking about living overseas

Speaking of owning a home, more and more Americans are looking at living in Central America or other places overseas because the cost of living is so much lower.

If you do that, you’ve really got to pay attention to the health care piece of the puzzle.

Checking the medical facilities

The Joint Commission International is the top dog when it comes to inspecting medical sites around the world. At their website, you can see if facilities are accredited near where you’re considering living, meaning they’re up to JCI standards and have passed inspections.

You also want to consider if the doctors who would be in your potential new area are trained or board certified in the United States or another First World country.

And, of course, you’ve got to make sure you have health coverage, which may involve buying a separate policy to cover you while you live out of the United States.

Should you pay extra for medical evacuation insurance?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the cost of medical evacuation in excess of $100,000. If you’re thinking about moving to a developing country, you might consider this kind of policy as a hedge against the possibility of a huge medical bill should you need to be airlifted out of there to a nearby nation with better medical facilities.

Medical evacuation insurance will also help foot the bill for getting you back to the U.S. The cost of that can range $10,000 to $50,000 if you need to travel with medical equipment and a nurse.

Be sure to rent at first

Beyond what I’ve laid out above, you’re going to certainly want to follow my advice on doing the rental thing at first. In fact, you may want to rent instead of owning in a foreign country for as long as you live overseas.

It’s great to consider living somewhere else and maybe it’s always been what your heart has desired, but my advice is make sure that your head and your heart end up in the same place. And you do that by doing a “test drive” of an area rather than just saying, “I’m in.” You’ll be much happier if you do it that way!

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Clark Howard About the author:
Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. More about Clark
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