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Retirement Aborad

Is anyone actively pursuing future retirement abroad? Full time or part time? Maybe just a vacation home for the years when work allows longer trips?
Your thoughts, concerns, anticipations?

Posted by
3209 posts

We considered it. For a minute. Then we realized that our family just means too much to us to separate ourselves by an ocean. We are content with taking multiple trips per year wherever in the world we want to go.

Posted by
2186 posts

Yes, looking at working, then retiring in Portugal. I have a trip planned for Portugal next month to house hunt. Plenty of thoughts, concerns, and anticipations - most focused on logistics, which are pertinent to my ultimate destination. That said, when the time comes to relocate - based on my experiences with residency & visa acquisitions in Spain, Italy, Austria, Denmark, and The Netherlands - I'll be getting some professional help. I'm getting too old to deal with all that paperwork!

Fortunately, the internet is a great starting point and I've already made some good contacts in Portugal... and done a lot of research, which does require some "sifting." For us, Portugal is about a three-hour flight away. so quite convenient. Their visa options are favorable, as would be our tax situation, and the health care is one of the best in Europe. We've never lived there - and that makes us a tad nervous - but we're fairly good at adapting. Perhaps the last chapter of our many moves!

We're fortunate to have lived overseas for 17+ years so we won't be dealing with many of the culture shocks that others may have by "living here" versus visiting here. But a new place is an adjustment, as will be our new "retired" lifestyle.

Posted by
8263 posts

We're a dual national family, so we have residences in both the US and France and love it.

The first concern I've noticed is language, of course. I run into Americans living in France who live in a bubble, unable to speak very well, and dependent on English-language news to let them know what's going on around them. Advice: dive in and try to get out of the bubble.
Next is getting through legal work from beginning visas, to drivers license, buying or renting.... There are plenty of FB groups to help with this. Also lawyers and accountants.
Tons of little details but the place to start is FB ex-pat and other groups, as well as overseas associations. Questions you never dreamed of arise that could interest you.
The big, long-term concern is inheritance taxes. Many people keep the US as a primary residence for this reason and joke that they need to get on a plane to the US when they feel the end of coming--to be sure to die in the US where inheritance laws and taxes are more lenient.
Distant concern: those last final years if you are lucky enough to live that long. Overseas retirement is great as long as you are healthy, but what will you do when you are dependent on others? Stay or return to the US?

Thoughts: nail down your criteria, explore, enjoy.

Posted by
13390 posts

I asked because its something I have been toying with for years.

When I first started traveling a lot the idea of owning property overseas never crossed my mind. Crazy in fact.

Then I found a place I really enjoyed and about 15 years ago bought an apartment. Not to retire. That was still an insane idea; but to make the trips cheaper, and it has saved me thousands over the years.

Then a few years back I realized I had almost as many friends there as here. I had a fair understanding of how things worked there and the culture in general and the idea began to creep into my mind. But not seriously.

Now, semi-retired (everything is remote so i can work anywhere) and knowing the cost of living for me would be at least 30% cheaper the idea is beginning to knock hard on my brain.

The European home is comfortable for my lifestyle now, and I do enjoy travel and the place is well connected to the rest of Europe thanks to it being a WizzAir hub ... so that's a plus. My family is scattered all over the US and now, and one at least temporarily in Germany, I doubt I would see them any less if I lived there ... so that's not the issue.

But I would have to put 75% of my life in storage and while that 75% I never use, its still a strange feeling to consider.

But the pull is getting stronger. I guess it would be great to hear from people who did it and regretted it (or simply changed their minds and came back) and from those who did it years ago and have no regrets.

Visa's and medical I have figured out to the extent necessary to consider. Heck, I get most of my medical care there now. For the visa, I could either go full-in with the residency visa ($$$) or buy a second place out of Schengen (a warmer place for the winter) and split the time one place, the other place and maybe in the US.

I am on the fence, so I thought this might be insightful.

Not sure how being a "resident" and not a "citizen" of another country would affect inheritance but, thanks, I will look into it.

Posted by
2396 posts

Since we already own an apartment in Croatia we have discussed it, but that’s as far it went. I’m not yet ready to sell my house or leave my extensive family. I’m one of 8 children, so add in 7 BIL/SIL, nieces, nephews, etc. you get the picture. Once Croatia is in the Schengen zone, we will look into getting me a long term visa so we can stay longer and not have to count the days. As my grandchildren get older and start ditching us, we figure we will go more often. If anything happens to me, my husband will be on the plane asap.

Posted by
2396 posts

Bets, the language situation. I have a basic knowledge of Croatian (polite talk, menus, etc) but am seriously learning it now via Skype with a personal tutor. The grammar is not easy by a long shot, but yes, a rudimentary knowledge of the language is a must. The younger people speak English, but as we are old, so are our friends and relatives, lol.

Posted by
760 posts

Yes, we've thought about, talked about it and even consulted with a lawyer. We haven't made a decision, mostly because of elderly parents; longevity runs in my husband's family in particular. The two things we've discussed most is whether we would want a long term visa or actual citizenship.

Posted by
5324 posts

James,
Another interesting thread.
Having lived in Saudi Arabia for 5 years and Germany for 4 years, working for the US Government, I can say that living overseas can be a wonderful experience.
While in both countries, I worked for the US Army and had the benefit of access to the Army PX (exchange) and Commissary (grocery) at inexpensive prices, I had the benefit of working with Americans and other nationalities, but significant economic protections from expensive foreign economies.

However, living as a retiree, you would not have that same protection.
When living in Germany, we found that shopping for anything, groceries, food, electronic, etc. that such costs were In preparation for this change, CDC recommends clinical laboratories and testing sites that have been using the CDC 2019-nCoV RT-PCR assay select and begin their transition to another FDA-authorized COVID-19 test. SIGNIFICANTLY higher than US prices.

Also, much of what you wanted to buy was just not available in local stores.

Further, living in Europe, fuel for your car will be double or more than what you pay in the USA. The overall cost of living can be mitigated by living in countries with lower cost of living. Portugal and Spain would be lower than Germany. Eastern Europe would be lower.

Eastern Europe, is a great place to visit, but not sure that I would want to live there. I suppose Hungary or Poland would be modernized enough these days, but I don't speak the local language and not sure how that would work out.

We live on an island in south Georgia with beaches nearby, yet we hardly ever go to the beach to get more skin cancer. I wouldn't want to live just to be near a beach.

Living overseas poses other issues. Having to get a driver's license, pay taxes (?) or deal with landlords doesn't appeal to me.

What I like about foreign travel is visiting historical places, scenic places and museums for the art. Living in one place, you are not on vacation all the time, you are in one place. It is not like going on a trip all the time.

If we purchased a foreign home, then maintenance would be an issue. Hiring help for that could be more difficult and expensive.

Further, I am a huge college football fan and don't want to miss the football season in the Fall.

Most of all, we would be separated from our children, grandchildren and friends.

Lastly, I would not want to be an a European country that is constantly shutting down for COVID19.

Posted by
8263 posts

@aimee: there is an expat website covering many, many countries that I believe Sammy posted a link to many years ago. https://www.expatforum.com/

@trotter: since you always have to start with a visa before applying for citizenship many years afterwards once you’ve proven linguistic and cultural assimilation, the question is answered. The exception would be if you are entitled to citizenship in a Schengen country by other means and looking to move to a Schengen country. If so, it easier moving abroad with the citizenship than a visa and worth pursuing.

The US has tax treaties with many countries that protect overseas residents from double taxation.

Posted by
13390 posts

a rudimentary knowledge of the language is a must.

Some places, absolutely. Other places its a huge benefit. Fortunately since I am linguistically challenged I am looking at a "benefit" place and not a "must" place. But I only became aware of that by participating in the system there for going on two decades. I cant imagine making these decisions on less experience with the location one is looking at moving to. I guess thats the deal. I am still foundering on the decision after maybe 2 years on the ground there. How does someone make the decision after 4, 6 or even 10 trips?

Posted by
13390 posts

Geovagriffith, the forum was getting a bit dull so I decided to liven it up.

Also, much of what you wanted to buy was just not available in local
stores. Further, living in Europe, fuel for your car will be double or
more than what you pay in the USA. The overall cost of living can be
mitigated by living in countries with lower cost of living. Portugal
and Spain would be lower than Germany. Eastern Europe would be lower.
Living overseas poses other issues. Having to get a driver's license,
pay taxes (?) or deal with landlords doesn't appeal to me.

That’s part of it. The hard part that I havent come to terms with. You have to be willing to live “in the economy” which means giving up one thing in return for another and deciding if the trade works for you. As for the car, living in a city center means no need for a car and that’s a huge part of the savings. According to the IRS, my car costs me about $6000 a year. An annual public transportation pass is about $350. Then figure maybe $1000 for rentals and train tickets for longer trips.

Eastern Europe, is a great place to visit, but not sure that I would
want to live there. I suppose Hungary or Poland would be modernized
enough these days, but I don't speak the local language and not sure
how that would work out.

For my choice, about 2 years on the ground have demonstrated that being ignorant of the language is not a hindrance but knowing it would be a benefit. From time to time I have had to deal with governmental agencies and even then the language didn’t stop things. Not understanding their “unique” though processes was an issue from time to time.

What I like about foreign travel is visiting historical places, scenic
places and museums for the art. Living in one place, you are not on
vacation all the time, you are in one place. It is not like going on a
trip all the time.

Yes, that’s a big one. You have to love the culture to be happy. My place does have the advantage of easy and cheap connection to the rest of Europe for travel. But would I really be traveling every few weeks? Would I really do that or get burned out? Big question.

If we purchased a foreign home, then maintenance would be an issue.
Hiring help for that could be more difficult and expensive.

Yup. I foolishly purchased a home and then spent the next 3 years trying to figure it out. But I did, and now it works pretty smoothly. Imagine just walking into a new place on day one not knowing what I learned over the years…. And I still question if I am ready.

Further, I am a huge college football fan and don't want to miss the
football season in the Fall.

I have work around for US television.

Most of all, we would be separated from our children, grandchildren
and friends.

I envy you. My family is scattered to the four winds.

Lastly, I would not want to be an a European country that is
constantly shutting down for COVID19.

My choice didn’t. But agree completely.

I appreciate the conversation. Helps to organize thoughts.

Posted by
1667 posts

I am of the opinion that there is no real answer on how to make that decision. You can make a spreadsheet full of items to consider (would not be surprised if you already have this), as well as a list of ways to deal with each item. But what that cannot tell you is how you will feel about it if you do it. I think that is what you are basically asking.

I don’t have a any recent experience but did live internationally for a total of 8 years. I watched Americans come and go, as well as “feeling” my own experience. I also have a child who is doing this on her own.

You first have that list of practicalities, most of which you uniquely already have in place: somewhere to live, familiarity with the systems, friends, deep knowledge of your neighborhood, legal advice. The visa question (the how to) - again just a matter of a logical decision, which you already have options for. Beyond that, I would say that moving/living there will require more help than you are used to having (with not being fluent), likely beyond what you already are used to.

What no one can help with really are the emotional decisions: selling things; putting them in storage (as you mention); physical distance for family (yes, it IS different mentally); new strategies for the lonely times; etc. None of those questions would be “deal-killers” in my opinion (for me if I were considering such a move), but just things to tuck into the back of your brain as you think.

For example, I get lonely here and have strategies - same would be true in a new place (I would just need new strategies).
I actually talk with my child who lives internationally far more than I do with two others who are closer - but we live with the fact that I can hop on a plane (or drive) and see the others twice as easily. We do distance well, but it is not the same.
Stuff is often our history. It’s scary to toss that to start over.

And if it were me, I would be moving on my own - not as part of a couple (yes, that cannot help but be a completely different experience).
Even if you have the same number of friends there as here, they are different friends. And you would not be seeing the ones from here on a regular basis. No one else knows how that weighs out for you.
On the other hand, everyone from the Forum would be finding you at Kadarka - you might have to start hiding. LOL!

You also have the advantage of being able to try it gradually with working online. You don’t have to cut all ties all at once. Maybe instead of going over on multiple trips, you might want to do a long one and see how that feels. Then come back for your required Schengen time and if you are still feeling positive, put that 75% of stuff in storage and try another 89 day trip. Then think again. In your situation no one says you have to do it all at the same time. And, of course, whatever your circumstances, it’s a fact that money makes many things easier.

And your actual original question: I actually love the idea of being part time somewhere besides here. And might yet do it. But, beyond not even knowing yet where I would choose that “somewhere else” to be, I know that I emotionally need my “base” here to come back to.

Posted by
386 posts

This may not apply to you directly, JamesE and other posters, but I want to say a few words about retiring abroad without learning the language. For me, personally, I think it's bad form and disrespectful to the local population and their culture to move anywhere overseas and expect to survive solely or even largely in English. Being bilingual is beyond the reach of most of us, but I'd guess that most of us, if not all, are perfectly capable of learning enough of whatever language to carry out the everyday life. This would be a little beyond menus, directions, basic safety, and counting. When going overseas, Foreign Service Officers had to test at the "professional competency" level to be assigned to particular positions. This was defined as "the ability to speak the language with sufficient grammatical accuracy and vocabulary to easily participate in most conversations on practical, social, and professional topics". If you're retired, maybe not so much "professional topics" but at least the ability to describe your career to a local (non-English speaking) person. It's being able to take care of yourself, assist others, and not rely on English and/or English speakers to live your daily life. Opening a bank account, getting utilities connected, taking a driver's test. Daily life skills that as adults we really should be doing independently. How many of us have heard, "If Latin Americans/hispanics/refugees/people-from-country-X want to live here, they should have to learn English"? Maybe some of the anti-immigrant sentiment in the US stems from our inability to understand, respect and/or appreciate other languages and cultures. Now put yourselves into French or Portuguese or Italian shoes. It's safe to assume that at least some of them would feel the same way about Americans.

The same thing goes for dropping into an overseas community and expecting to buy peanut butter, Crisco, marshmallow creme, turkey and stuffing and any number of other American delicacies. If it doesn't exist, you're going to have to get over it. Going local is the best way to be happy living overseas. I served at one post, and not in a developing country, where it was common for community members to routinely complain about no American/English TV, electricity, food, street signs, or schools, hospitals or doctors to meet their every need in English. Twenty years later, and they still annoy me! Anyway, having lived on both sides of the issue, I'd recommend that if you're serious about truly living overseas, get a head start now on learning the language. You won't regret it.

Posted by
918 posts

We moved to Italy in the first part of the pandemic, after planning for several years. I won't bore you with the practicalities. To me, the heart of the matter is the willingness to commit to the change. If your personal reasons for the change are strong enough, it will be a good experience. To me, it would be harder and would make me less happy to try to straddle the ocean with a house and a life on each side.

It was my idea and I'm driving the whole bus, but I brought my husband and adult child with me so I don't have to miss them. (Daughter will go back for career after she finishes her masters degree here.) We sold the house, got rid of a lot of stuff and brought the rest (filled a 40' container.)

I treat all the work around getting health care, getting a drivers' license etc. as opportunities to help me learn new processes and vocabulary and have new experiences. I might roll my eyes at making 4 in-person trips to renew my health care, but I'm retired and don't have to be somewhere else most of the day. I do not think that or complain to others about "that's not the way it should be done."

The home we bought is our favourite all-time house, even more than the one we had custom built. At 1/3 the cost. The "geographical arbitrage" has in fact slashed our cost of living, so as you already know, a move would be financially advantageous for you.

And guess what? There is still an active real estate market in Canada. No reason we can't go back if the time comes. I'm sure that's also true in the States. Though it was -26 Celsius in Calgary this week, and +15C here...

No regrets. From any of us.

Posted by
13390 posts

Wanderlust58 Very impressive though process. Nice to hear this sort of thing.

English is sort of the universal language and 90% of anyone that I would have something in common with speak English; so as you so correctly point out its about respect; and maybe not need. I actually like your point of view to that extent. It’s a good conversation.

For the nuts and bolts of the issue, I’m pretty satisfied its doable. I’ve been doing business there for years and know much of what to expect and most of the solutions. My location has a few companies that assist expats when it gets tricky, so there are fall backs. As far as services in English, healthcare comes to mind, they have an entire economic sector built on that; so again doable. But yes, there is a bit of frustration in not being able to express some very narrow feelings or emotions or thoughts because I have to do it in English and I am not certain they are getting it the way I mean it. But then to proficiency in their language would require more years of study than I have left in my life. One of the major obstacles in the whole idea.

As far as a comparison to the US, I think the majority of the resentment comes from knowing that if they don’t know English and need to work for income, other taxpayers will have to subsidize them; not from the fact that they are any particular ethnic group. I would suspect the same animosity if I lived in China, couldn’t work because I couldn’t speak Chinese and wanted the Chinese taxpayers to subsidize me. Which folds into this well as in practical application, a retired expat is “independently wealthy”. I wouldn’t ever consider making myself a burden on another society.

As for learning the language on principal, and a good one, no better way than immersion. I took lessons for a while but stopped with the 4 pronunciations of each vowel. They all sounded the same to me.

Posted by
5467 posts

We were considering buying a holiday home in a location that would be good for winter visits, then along came Brexit and scuppered our plans of spending November to February/March away as we are now subject to the 90 day limit. We calculated that the opportunity cost of the money we would spend on a foreign property means that we can afford to rent a similar property for more weeks a year than we would spend if it were our own, without any of the ownership hassles (ongoing maintenance, furniture replacement, decorating etc).

We have also considered relocating to several countries full time, including Spain, France and Portugal. We would have to move our taxes, therefore Spain is a no go as we would be significantly worse off. In France we would be worse off but not as bad as Spain. There is the Portuguese golden visa, which is the only option of the three. Property in Portugal isn’t particularly cheap for decent properties in nice areas - yes there are bargains for wrecks in the middle of nowhere, but that’s not what we would want.

Obviously being based in the U.K., we currently get free health care, which we would have to buy if we moved - a significant cost.

Getting a long term visa for a particular country would still involve the 90 day Schengen limits for travelling elsewhere in Europe, which means no long winter stays in the Canary Islands (unless we had Spanish residency).

We speak basic French and I have recently started learning Spanish. I tried Portuguese a decade ago, but it’s not an easy language to pick up. I wouldn’t want to live somewhere if I couldn’t converse with locals.

I wouldn’t want to live in a city - been there, done that (London).

We looked at buying a holiday home in Portugal about a decade ago. The owners had been letting the property, so we stayed for a week as a trial. On day 2, there was torrential rain and water was pouring in through the roof and down the staircase into the lower level. Apparently it had never happened before. Luckily, the owners came straight away and sorted it out - if we had been in London and not been able to mop up the water straight away, the terracotta floors and wall plaster would have been ruined. We didn’t buy it.

We have friends in France and Spain and they regularly complain about the amount of red tape to get anything done.

I don’t know where we will end up!

Posted by
1767 posts

Medicare does not cover anyone outside the US. I have heard of travel insurance that pays for medical for up to one year.

Posted by
1043 posts

I think Travelmom really indicated it best. It is an emotional move. All the logistics, laws, taxes etc. can be figured out and solved. It is how you think you would adapt to where you would be living on a human interpersonal level. I think many times some people confuse living abroad or retiring abroad with being on a long European vacation. After a while I would bet traveling around Europe would probably get old. The bigger question is, what will you do when you are not traveling? Big decision for anyone.

Posted by
3567 posts

Medicare does not cover anyone outside the US.

Not really, there are several Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans that offer some foreign health coverage. I don’t have Medicare though.

Posted by
4746 posts

Retirement lasts a long time. Everyone eventually reaches a point where some outside help is needed. At that point you need to live near those you are counting on to help you.

I think one needs to plan with “the endgame” in mind and a possible need to return to the US

Posted by
6507 posts

if you thought through all the issues and think you'll have a better life, then why not? I would if not for family issues.

Posted by
1767 posts

there are several Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans that offer some foreign health coverage.

Really, someday I'll research that thank you Tom.

Posted by
13390 posts

There are quite a few ex-pat policies out there. Generally cheaper than US insurance. If that doesn't float your boat there is evacuation insurance that has no restrictions. If you are in a hospital and you want out, they will take you home. Generally a few hundred dollars a year.

Currently I get a great deal of my routine medical work done in Europe; even a couple of minor surgeries so far. Less expensive than here in the US with my insurance coverage after deductible and co-pays and I get to pick my doctor. If I like my doctor, I get to keep my doctor in Europe. I am one of those rare old birds that cant wait for the next colonoscopy because the savings by getting it done in Europe pays for the airline ticket to Europe (actually several airline tickets). Got to get it done either way, might as well get a vacation out of it. Four trips to the Cardiologist pays for another ticket. And I challenge anyone to find in the US better doctors or facilities than those I go to in Europe.

Posted by
3567 posts

I am one of those rare old birds that cant wait for the next colonoscopy because the savings by getting it done in Europe pays for the airline ticket to Europe

FWIW: Routine colonoscopies are always covered at 100% by federal law (“Obamacare”). Normally that’s every 10 years for specified ages. The “rack rate” on a colonoscopy is about $3000 without pathology (which is not routine). My insurance has covered colonoscopies at 100% at a 2 year interval, non-routine, I haven’t asked why.

Posted by
13390 posts

My father and my uncle both had colon cancer. My insurance will pay every 5 years. I prefer not to wait 5 years. The $3k is about right. My total last time in the US was about $4k with all the add ins. My last one in Europe was $350 (a few months ago).

But like Travelmom said, this isnt about the nuts and bolts. Those can most often be solved to most people's satisfaction. This is about the mental issue.

Posted by
168 posts

Sorry, I don't mean to turn this more into something about language, but I actually think it is a rather critical question for someone thinking to do what you describe, and I have two comments.

English is sort of the universal language and 90% of anyone that I
would have something in common with speak English; so as you so
correctly point out its about respect; and maybe not need. I actually
like your point of view to that extent. It’s a good conversation.

First: The 90% thing is (in my opinion) certainly selection bias. There are way more people out there who you would have something in common with, if you were able to communicate.

Second, and something that hasn't been mentioned yet, is this: It is actually a very annoying feeling to make everyone switch to your language just for your comfort. I lived for some years in a post-Soviet country where much of the population speaks Russian (as do I) and where Russian is still a respected/prestige language, and at first I thought I could get away without really learning the local language, given the common bilingualism with Russian. But I just felt so frustrated that my friends and colleague had to speak Russian just for my sake--it really made things uncomfortable--and I ended up learning the local language to the point that I could participate in social situations.

If you are living somewhere full-time, you (or at least I) want to be able to participate in social life without feeling to be a burden. It can be very isolating otherwise.

I think I recall that it is Hungary that you have connections to: the cultural life there is so rich and varied! It would be a real pity to settle there long-term, but only be able to access/interact in meaningful ways with the thin veneer of society that is comfortable to operate in English.

Posted by
13390 posts

Azra, some might think we are beating the language issue to death. Not me, and I am the OP. There are two issues I guess.

  1. Necessary to have a decent life: In Budapest, I would not be surprised (based on my experience with lots of strangers) if less than 75% of those under the age of 35 didn't have at least a conversational knowledge of English. Higher for college graduates. And higher among public servants, lawyers, doctors, professional service providers. So functionally you can survive on English in Budapest (but I am not so sure about the countryside).

  2. To get the most value out of life: Yes, Hungarian would add considerably to that. I took lessons for a while and I have been traveling there for nearly 20 years and I have picked up a little, but what you dont use, you loose and with there being maybe 12 million Hungarian speakers in the world, use is hard to find. BUT, living there creates an immersion language course. Never would I want to not know the language because you are 100% correct. Oddly enough I have picked up more Ukrainian and Russian than Hungarian. But not for polite company.

Posted by
13390 posts

Okay, another topic.

I have had the pleasure to employ nearly 20 immigrants from the four corners of the word. I watched them go from work visa to residency to US Citizen and I attended a number of naturalization ceremonies. I asked a few years later if they felt American. To a person they said yes. They feel American, and they say they are accepted by natural citizens as Americans. Now, if I were to become a citizen of a European country; would I be received as a, say, French man? Sure we may refer to someone as a Persian American but will the French see me as an American French? Or will i always be an outsider no matter how good my French is and no matter what the citizenship paper says? I picked France, but I suspect they and the English are probably the most likely to say yes. I do know that I could never be seen by any Hungarian as a Hungarian myself, no matter what the paper says, no matter what language I speak. So, that is a consideration, 20 years after moving, i will still be an outsider.

Webmaster, i appreciate your tolerance of this. But the concept of long term stays is sort of an extension of the travel experience. I suspect a number of tourists think about it and let it influence their travel decisions. It has for me for many years.
But I can say after all of these discussions I am a bit less inclined to do anything permanent. So it may have served its purpose and if you wanted to lock the thread that would not be a bad thing.

Posted by
673 posts

Tax still in America as well as the country you move too.

Posted by
8263 posts

No. The US has tax treaties with other countries. I know this as a dual citizen and dual resident. You aren't double taxed on income; the exemptions are fairly high.

You could try it out on a one-year visitor visa. The only hiccup is doing paid work while on a visitor visa, but a Hungarian lawyer could help with that.

Posted by
6850 posts

The US Treasury does tax a US citizen's global earnings, including real estate and capital gains when an (overseas purchased) property is sold (and also on rent income). Obviously, an accountant will help with all the deductions and loopholes to minimize tax burden. The inter-country reciprocal treaties have more to do with taxation of income and taxes on Social Security distributions than real estate, I am fairly certain. But bottom line is that the US makes people living overseas and/or making money overseas file a bunch of paperwork and report all assets and earnings back to the US Treasury, and it could be a pain. But you know that already since you have an income-generating property(ies) in Hungary.

As far as Medicare and Medicare Advantage are concerned, I think they both become moot once someone lives abroad full-time and not just part time or on vacation (I stress full-time or some pre-determined threshold that means basically the same). Once you're living in Europe full-time, you'd have to buy into their own medical system and pay into it just like others (despite going to private providers for dental or other services). Frankly, I don't think that's a deal breaker since it's much cheaper (of course exceptions like Switzerland, etc) but you would be basically throwing all that money you've paid into Medicare (and your employer has paid into it for you) all your working years down the drain because you won't be using it for routine care.

Language and fitting in culturally is the toughest. I agree that if you don't have command of the local language, you'll be seen as a foreigner and an outsider. If you are relegated only to transactional relationships with people whose job is to serve English-speakers, then you'll never really break into having normal, non-transactional dealings with locals, espacially those of a certain age. It's great to speak to many or most < 50 year olds in English, but what about if you want to make friends or forge relationships with someone your age (I assume early 60s?). Those 60+ year olds grew up not having learned English in school, so unless they have to learn it, they likely won't. The US is unlike any country in the world - we welcome immigrants and foregners and don't treat them like second class citizens - they are the building block of our population and have the same rights and responsibilities. I would not assume the same of other countries, although some do a much betyter job at integration than others (e.g. Scandinavia).

I would retire abroad because I'll have dual citizenship by birth, but that's a long way away (I'm not near retirement age yet). The main motivator is my money will go a long way in Poland and I would have easy access to the rest of Europe. But culturally, I am more American and would have to perfect my language skills and "re-learn" a lot. My Mom is in the same boat now. She is interested in moving back but I think it will be a big change, even for her...and even though she lived there for 30+ years in her youth. Things change and people who "move back" I think are seen as "rich Americans" and somehow different than those who stayed and didn't move out and come back. Yes, some are even treated with suspicion, which may or may not be intuitive. I think it's like that in other countries as well (although I think Israel is much more welcoming to those who move back - that's just a hunch though).

Posted by
417 posts

as a reminder for non dual citizens - most countries (in Europe) require you to get a visa if you're doing any kind of work, including remote, online only work....

Posted by
13390 posts

Agnes, your comments are always good. Again I can not imagine doing this if I hadn’t spent 20 years prepping (but I didn’t know that was what I was doing). As you well know, I cant keep my mouth shut. I live for discussions and I am no different when traveling, so I have had these discussions with many, many locals over the years and I could be wrong, but I think I have a pretty good feeling for the cultural implications. But time would tell.

The US Treasury does tax a US citizen's global earnings ….

Yes, I have been dealing with this for years. Of my 40 page tax return, this issue adds two pages. Hasn’t been that big a deal; but it is so complicated and it does have so many considerations and the outcome depending on a number or issues can be so broad, that my response above was what it was. Didn’t want to dive down into that rabbit hole on this thread.

As far as Medicare and Medicare Advantage are concerned, I think they
both become moot once someone lives abroad full-time …

Medicare is one topic I haven’t looked into much. I just assumed it would not pay and that’s not a deal breaker. But as you point out may come down to your status overseas: short term, resident, citizen. I know Green Card holders have to spend at least 6 months in the US to keep their green card and I suspect that might be the cut off on Medicare or maybe not. Needs to be investigated.

Once you're living in Europe full-time, you'd have to buy into their
own medical system and pay into it just like others (despite going to
private providers for dental or other services) …

I am paying into it now. Not that I can use by the way. Without citizenship or Permenant Residency I don’t think I can use it … nor would I want to, to be honest.

… but you would be basically throwing all that money you've paid into
Medicare (and your employer has paid into it for you) all your working
years down the drain because you won't be using it for routine care.

Not sure how I am benefitting from all that money I paid in. Medicare is lousy, so you have to buy the supplemental and that can cost as much or more than an expat full coverage private in Europe. But I would like to have the opportunity to return to the US and continue on medicare if I bust out of the limits on the expat policy. Something I am still researching.

Language and fitting in culturally is the toughest. I agree that if
you don't have command of the local language, you'll be seen as a
foreigner and an outsider. If you are relegated only to transactional
relationships with people whose job is to serve English-speakers, then
you'll never really break into having normal, non-transactional
dealings with locals, espacially those of a certain age. It's great to
speak to many or most < 50 year olds in English, but what about if you
want to make friends or forge relationships with someone your age (I
assume early 60s?).

I hate to say this because the forum can become somewhat judgmental. 95% of my current “friends” in the US are people that I have common professional and educational experience with. The Hungarian equivalent of that social group will speak English. But, again, being fluent in the local language has many softer advantages. No doubt.

Posted by
13390 posts

The US is unlike any country in the world - we welcome immigrants and
foregners and don't treat them like second class citizens - they are
the building block of our population and have the same rights and
responsibilities. I would not assume the same of other countries,
although some do a much better job at integration than others (e.g.
Scandinavia).

First, I would have no interest in Citizenship, so this is really just an academic discussion. But like language there are two sides of this; functional and cultural. Functionally with Hungarian Citizenship there is not to my knowledge any “second class” status for those naturalized. Culturally, while I have never witnessed or heard in discussion with my Hungarian friends any animosity, I would never be Hungarian. Maybe Hungary is different (but I suspect there are a lot of parallels in the world), they see themselves as a race and not a nationality and I can never be any race but that which I am.

… My Mom is in the same boat now. She is interested in moving back but
I think it will be a big change, even for her...and even though she
lived there for 30+ years in her youth. Things change and people who
"move back" I think are seen as "rich Americans" and somehow different
than those who stayed and didn't move out and come back. Yes, some are
even treated with suspicion, which may or may not be intuitive. I
think it's like that in other countries as well (although I think
Israel is much more welcoming to those who move back - that's just a
hunch though).

The few people of Hungarian ancestry that I have met who have returned to the motherland, have been seen by locals as …. Well ….. having returned to the motherland and have been welcomed and fully accepted. But again, this might just be a Hungarian thing as they have a “race” and a culture that is facing the pressures of international homogenization and they are fighting back as best they can. Remember we are talking about a culture about the size of Georgia in size and population.

Posted by
13390 posts

as a reminder for non dual citizens - most countries (in Europe) require you to get a visa if you're doing any kind of work, including remote, online only work....

Yes, but like US laws there are grey areas. In my case running a business in Hungary as a citizen of Hungary or Resident of Hungary is not the same as communicating with my US business while on a Schengen Visa. It all comes down to how deep does one want to dive down the rabbit hole. I own a business there now and pay the applicable taxes. Income tax alone on that business costs me almost $300 a year (LOL). Then there is the non-existent parking space I had to buy, but that's another story.

Eliminating Citizenship there are a few options:
Permanent Residency
Residency Visa
Extended Schengen Visa
Schengen Visa

Each with implications.

Oh, did you know there are still a few EU countries where you can buy citizenship? Hungary use to have a program, but the EU made them stop.

Posted by
6850 posts

Not sure how I am benefitting from all that money I paid in. Medicare
is lousy, so you have to buy the supplemental and that can cost as
much or more than an expat full coverage private in Europe. But I
would like to have the opportunity to return to the US and continue on
medicare if I bust out of the limits on the expat policy. Something I
am still researching.

I have no idea whether you are already on Medicare or not, or whether you think it's as good or worse as your commercial healthcare plan. So let me be more clear. People who pay into Social Security and Medicare all their lives do depend on being able to derive some benefits from both when they're retired; nothing to do with whether one thinks they suck or are inadequate or whatever. The only point is that you are legally eligible "to draw" from them at some stage in your life if you met the eligibility criteria. Also, Meidcare + Medigap is not your only option; there are Medicare Advantage Plans (bundled products; no supplemental required) which are pretty comprehensive and many people are happy with them (many people are happy with Original Medicare too).

I would be really interested to learn how someone can "keep" their Medicare and still live abroad full time (you can't count on a Medicare Advantage plan if you move out of that plan's service area and network in the US), and why it would make sense to double-pay like that unless you plan on frequent trips back to the US. I can't say I know what the program would do if you're not living in the US even part-time (however that's defined) because I don't have any experience with it. If I was using my Mom as an example, I would tell her to chuck Medicare (meaning, disenroll and stop paying into it) if she plans on moving back full-time (hopefully there are other insurance products for 2 week or even monthly visits back, although I haven't researched it fully). As you said, everything really depends on your residence status and its classification, and that depends how long out of a year you plan on residing in Hungary and US.

Also, no offense intended about any social class characteristics of the people you hang out with in Hungary. I am only basing from my experience in Poland that many people, even with graduate degrees and similar social class as me who are older (my parents generation) still may not speak English. It's not a perfect marker of social class, and it doesn't mean they're rural or uneducated, etc. Plus, I imagine people still want to meet new people/ locals when they move. And most locals speak their native language in the home during dinner gatherings and such, and they definitely speak the local language in groups of friends.

Posted by
417 posts

i'm not going to split hairs. yes, no one will care if you take a 'work' call while on a 'tourist visa' (aka, 90 day visa free travel in the Schengen zone).

but if you actively work while on that 'tourist visa', you are breaking the law, just as a European would that is on an ESTA coming to the US.

Posted by
1163 posts

Husband and I have been thinking about this. I can obtain dual citizenship by descent in a country where, coincidentally, my husband's best lifelong friend moved several years ago and will likely remain, as he just had his first baby at midlife. His other close friend lives in the UK. We are at least a decade away from retirement, so it's not a pressing decision. If/when I obtain dual citizenship, I will be required to live in the country for 12 consecutive months within the 10 years following, so that would be a 'test'. We have looked at living abroad before retirement, but husband's job is only possible in an English speaking country, and with kids who have bonds they dont want to interrupt and then Covid, we haven't, although a few colleagues of his have and some returned and some stayed abroad. Decisions do depend somewhat on what our three kids do. Two are keen on living abroad, so I could imagine several of us living there. My own father has dual citizenship in Canada/US and he stayed in the US because of us kids (we joked, "we'll follow you!" but of course that is very complicated). I can also imagine retiring abroad, but as someone said, returning for later old age. As for language, I would be embarrassed to not speak the language. My mom did not speak her language to us, so I know it only rudimentarily, and I am embarrassed that my relatives always have to speak [their very skilled] English to me and I cant reciprocate. I would not feel part of the community if I didnt have decent facility wherever we end up.

Posted by
7421 posts

Travelmom mentioned something that I don't think is getting enough attention:

physical distance for family (yes, it IS different mentally);

Mentally and psychologically, I would say.

And when you add in the near-complete physical barrier that was erected for about the first 15 months of the pandemic, then it is another thing altogether.

Posted by
7070 posts

The first thing that came to my mind when I saw this post is that : I am a caregiver for my mom who is going through the stages of dementia, something I never thought would happen ; it would be miserably difficult if she were living in another city let alone another country.

Posted by
13390 posts

WOW!!! This thread is getting a lot of attention. Thank you. Everything to date has been excellent.

Lets concede a few things and list a few things that have been determined for someone wanting to retire full time or part time in Europe (or anywhere outside of the US):

Conceded: Life would be enhanced if you can speak the language
Conceded: You will be ill advised not to try and learn the language to the best of your ability.
Conceded: Your contact with current family and friends would be severely curtailed.

Determined: In many locations not knowing the local language would not be a particularly large impediment to at least a "functional" existence.
Determined: Issues like daily business, medical coverage and taxes can be resolved and are not deal breakers
Determined: Except in special situations, you will never be a anywhere near a full member of the culture.
Determined: There are many locations where the cost of living could be substantially less expensive
Determined: The Visa process will be somewhat involved depending on short-term, part-time, or full-time retirement overseas.

The Plan (DRAFT 1)

1994 to 2023
Spend not less than 2 years combined time in Hungary and as much time as possible in Montenegro, Bosnia and Ukraine to learn rules, laws, culture, pick up a little language and look at possible cities and neighborhoods to spend time when in retirement.
Buy housing for the Budapest part of retirement
Make as many contacts as possible
Check out medical options
DONE

2023
A Spring visit to Budapest of 3 months, and a Fall visit of 3 months
During the two visits side trips to Montenegro and Bosnia and Ukraine to keep me out of Schengen trouble and to look for a river front home.
Find insurance for medical and evacuation if desired.
Work on language skills
Downsize US housing costs
Cost of living savings 15%

2024 (if 2023 doesn't change my mind)
Buy river front home
A Spring visit to Budapest of 3 months, then on to Montenegro or Bosnia or Ukraine for 3 months, then back to Budapest for 3 more months; or I could get a good Schengen calculator and spend the time sort of equally between Budapest and Fishing in Montenegro or Bosnia or Ukraine.
Winter back in the US for the holidays and family
Work on language skills
Secure residency visa for 2025
Cost of living savings 20%

2025 thru 2038 (if 2024 doesn't change my mind)
All in with Winter visit to the US
Work on language skills
Give US life away to children
Cost of living savings 30%

2038 (at the latest)
Come home to US and get ready to push up the daisies

Yes, I know countries other than Schengen generally have 180 day in 6 month limits too.

Posted by
1667 posts

We all like to help plan someone else’s life. 🤣🤣 Far easier than our own sometimes. Who knows, you might really do it. 😂

And the prerogative to change your mind about any part at any time - even tomorrow - is always yours. I won’t hold you to it.

Posted by
13390 posts

2023 I can not imagine not happening. Pretty much what I do now. You know me, you know my entire living (relevant) family are my 4 kids who are scattered around the US and one in Germany (thank you for your service). So, why not?

Oh and for the post worried about my working over there. I own(ed) my own business for 15 years and never had the opportunity to travel with out a lap top and about 8 hours of work a week (at a table at the Kadarka Wine Bar). There is a school here in my hometown designed in that bar. I work a lot less now, but in August i was in Zoom meetings in the istanbul airport, Athens Plaka, and Odesa beach. You do what you gotta do.

Posted by
8263 posts

Medicare: many expats stay enrolled in part A Medicare (hospitalization) because it has no premiums. It’s automatic. They buy a visitor’s plan for coming to the US to visit family to cover part B and D, outpatient and meds.

Personal relationships: not diminished in the least with the offspring since they are already at a distance. They prefer visiting us in Europe to the midwest. The only hiccup is the time difference when the granddaughter calls after school but we’re about to turn off the lights.

All the relevant info is on expat websites.

Posted by
13390 posts

Medicare: many expats stay enrolled in part A Medicare
(hospitalization) because it has no premiums. It’s automatic. They buy
a visitor’s plan for coming to the US to visit family to cover part B
and D, outpatient and meds.

Thanks Bets, sort of my thought.

You know, when I bought my place over there, it could have been the stupidest move of my life. From time to time there is a post here about doing such a thing and the general consensus is that its too difficult; what about language, taxes, government what ever ... etc.... but it turned out good for me. I am hoping for the best with this too. But its a slow dive so .....

Posted by
214 posts

@ James

Curiosity has gotten to me. Annual or Perennial Daisies? Do you have a favourite colour or variety?

Regards Ron

Posted by
214 posts

@ James

Don't know. Looks like I will have to check them out. One of those tough jobs.

Regards Ron

Posted by
168 posts

I just wanted to write to give a bit of entirely unsolicited encouragement re: the language issue, which has been discussed here from a mostly functionalist perspective and treated as something of a burden (which, of course, from a practical sense I understand--and I have myself felt this way about languages I have had to learn).

But in fact, the truth is that learning a language is just wonderful and perspective-shifting. You will absolutely not regret it, and it will enrich your interaction with Hungary in ways that you cannot predict.

Posted by
2396 posts

James, regarding learning the language. I am 64 and am finally, seriously learning to read, write, and speak Croatian via a private tutor I found online at a very reasonable cost. I had taken classes years ago (1978) at Berlitz but they only taught Serbo-Croatian at the time. Not good, especially after the civil war. Anyway, I am studying 3 mornings a week and trying very hard but my memory and recall aren’t what they used to be. Why now? Because since our retirement we plan on traveling there more often, by ourselves, and staying longer and like Agnes said, all of our friends and relatives are close to our age and do not speak English. The younger ones do but they don’t hang around with us. When we have gone in the past years we always had family with us, English speaking family. So while my husband was conversing in Croatian, we were talking English together. He would translate anything important. But our future visits will include the two of us and I don’t want to be out of the conversation, sitting on the side playing solitaire on my phone. Will I ever be fluent, probably not, but I am going to give it my best shot.

Posted by
20796 posts

Some languages are more challenging than others--a lot more challenging. Unfortunately for James, Hungarian is one of the real toughies. I say that as someone who has studied Russian (definitely more difficult for English speakers than Romance and Germanic languages) and modern Greek (a bit harder than Russian for me). Call me lazy, but I am not motivated to tackle what looks to me like a hopeless cause. Now, if I were going to live in Hungary, I would make a serious effort; I am just doubtful it would pay off in terms of speaking ability.

Posted by
13390 posts

Azra; I agree. Was never fighting your points. And Barbara, you are bright (I envy you) I'm just a country hick trying to figure out English still.

Acraven; I did take Hungarian lessons. Actually structurally its not too bad. Its the pronunciation I have issues with. A fifteen letter word can have 10 vowels. My tongue just goes into spasms. (from the internet) Vowels can be high/front (e, é, i, í, ö, ő, ü, ű) or deep/back (a, á, o, ó, u, ú). Yea right. I actually do know a few phrases and more come back to me the longer I am there. I can say them, but few actually understand my pronunciation. But immersion is the best teacher. I can actually stumble through a tiny bit of Russian and Ukrainian too. But I dont try because occasionally (mostly) i confuse the two and that could lead to something unpleasant.

Posted by
2396 posts

James, I find that wine loosens up the tongue and any inhibitions. Lol

Posted by
7421 posts

Hahahahahahahaha

Yeah, Hungarian isn't easy, structurally or pronunciation-wise. I got to where I could go to the market and go to the train station and that was about it !!!

James, as I have said before with regard to your travels, I will say again here with regard to your thoughts of retiring to Hungary. You are more pragmatic and flexible than most people (and have financial -- not to mention intellectual and psychological resources). Those all count for a whole lot in either situation and make you much more likely to succeed than the average Joe.

Posted by
13390 posts

Thank you Kim, you are very kind. I never say no to any thought till I beat the idea to death, then discover they might not be that outlandish ........ or they are.

After 5 or 6 trips to Budapest I was still so impressed that I thought maybe it was just window dressing for tourists. Which was a crazy thought because back then the city was covered in black soot.

So I got a real estate agent, under the pretense that I was interested in buying a flat, I wasn't, I just wanted to get into people's homes. What I discovered was a lot more foreign than I had expected.

The last place I visited was a truly disgusting excuse for habitation. Filthy, paint pealing (except behind the sofa where it had never been painted), stinking plumbing and these horrible wooden loft for sleeping (next to the water heater). Just gross in every aspect.

But 300m from the Opera House and Andrassy ut, and wonderful high vaulted ceilings. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm and a little cheaper than the car I had just bought. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

I resisted, went back home and thought, and sketched, and thought and ....... 3 months later I was on my way back to Budapest with $9,999 in cash stuffed in bag around my waist. That was about 15 years ago.

Posted by
359 posts

This has been a most entertaining thread and a welcome diversion. James I hope you will share more details about making your $10k flat livable. Inquiring minds want to know...

Posted by
13390 posts

I'm glad you enjoyed it. The forum was getting a bit dry. Sent you some pictures.

Posted by
7421 posts

And I am endlessly jealous that you are the proud owner of an apartment near Opera. Good for you !!

Posted by
13390 posts

And it has been pretty simple (let's hope retirement is as simple) and really has cost nothing to own.

Posted by
2396 posts

James, I say go for! When we first got married we stayed in then Yugoslavia for 9 months, same apartment we inherited. We were debating about living there permanently but it would have been too difficult for me. Remember, this was back in 1981. There were very few American tourists. Heck, I was the first American most of his friends ever met. No ex-pats that we could find. This was in the city of Rijeka. I remember going to Dubrovnik to visit his grandfather who lived within the walls. they did not charge for the wall walk, there were pigeons on the Stradun, no cafes with tables and umbrellas, and extremely little English being spoken. My husband was a merchant marine at the time, so I would be home alone most of the time, or taking solo walks, cause my in-laws and everyone we knew were working. We didn’t have a car, but I didn’t drive stick anyway. Also, Apartments were difficult to find. So back to the States we came. I sometimes wonder how different life would have been if we stayed a while longer. Anyway, my point is, down the road you might regret not trying. You are still young and healthy enough to try. Don’t think about it too long, you will talk yourself out of trying. You can always come home again.
PS, if you do move, you will have many forum visitors to help when you get homesick!

Posted by
8263 posts

"if you do move, you will have many forum visitors to help when you get homesick! "
And maybe some apartment exchanges.

No need to sell off anything in Texas. Lots of people have two homes.

Posted by
272 posts

I think I have fewer financial resources than many of you, but I have long dreamed of retiring abroad (France). I’m now 59, single and no kids. I work full time and am trying to figure out how I can make retirement happen as soon as possible. Right now my thoughts are to live abroad (various places) for 2-3 months at a time, but also spend several months/year in U. S. I don’t have it all figured out ($$$ is the main obstacle, plus health insurance), but I’m slowly taking steps to hopefully make my dreams reality in the next 2-3 years.
This thread has been helpful and inspiring — thanks!

Posted by
13390 posts

Shelly

The finances are actually part of it; but no, not all of it. You said France, so I assumed Paris (I am guessing the most expensive place to live) and I ran this for you https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=France&country2=United+States&city1=Paris&city2=Charlotte%2C+NC&tracking=getDispatchComparison Paris is actually more expensive than Charlotte. Their sampling data base could be larger, but within some margin of error; probably in the ballpark. But it doesn’t take into account neighborhood.

My case is a bit better San Antonio vs Budapest: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Hungary&country2=United+States&city1=Budapest&city2=San+Antonio%2C+TX&tracking=getDispatchComparison which could be a 35% to 60% savings in the cost of living. Neighborhoods I have figured out.

And if you lived in San Francisco, it’s a no brainer. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Hungary&country2=United+States&city1=Budapest&city2=San+Francisco%2C+CA&tracking=getDispatchComparison

Expat insurance that pays for private hospitals (the public ones are not always that great) costs about the same as my Medicare supplemental policy so that’s about a wash. Even evacuation coverage is only a few hundred a year.

Like you, the current plan is to start of slow and build up. The biggest question is where to live in the US when not in Europe. Do you keep two households? If my retirement cost of living in the US were $75,000/year (I live in San Antonio guys, not California), then in Budapest it isn’t inconceivable that I could have about the same sort of life in Budapest for $50,000/year. That leaves $25,000 for a modest hideout in the US on return trips and the plane tickets. Possible. Tight, very tight, but possible. But that means no real savings. While there are a lot of other reasons to do this savings is one. But I guess its good for the short term until I pull the trigger and make it happen full time.

The way I ramped up to this (unknowingly) was to purchase a flat in Budapest. No, not rich. I maxed out my 401(k) every year so an alternative investment made some sense. My net rental income on the apartment has been about 4% of the investment each year; and the appreciation on the flat has been about 3% each year (in the toilet right now thanks to COVID). But that’s still a total of 7% which is the stock market rolling 20 year average … so “okay”. If I only used it 2 weeks a year (and I do twice that most years) the hotel room savings pays for the plane tickets and it adds about another 3% to the return. So, I am at 10% return. Still, just “okay” but how do I value the opportunities it created?

Posted by
8263 posts

This is to reassure you that life does exist beyond Paris.

Many ex-pats in France have found the cost of living lower in France than where they came from in the US. I haven't calculated to the centime, but our French residence and cost of living are lower than our US residence and cost of living. We divide our time.

You might be interested in a Facebook group called Retired Americans in France where a lot of these questions come up.

US residency--many people choose a state with no state income tax.

Posted by
13390 posts

US residency--many people choose a state with no state income tax.

Yes, I did.

Posted by
6507 posts

Someone once gave me the advice, "if you're sitting on a fence, jump the way you're leaning". If I was younger and had fewer family ties, I'd do it. Its not an irreversible decision, should things change.

Posted by
3567 posts

$75,000/year

That sounds like a lot. I figured $50,000 was plenty even including a budget for an annual overseas trip. $3000/month for 2 covered everything generously, assuming home paid off. I don’t wear luccheses though.

Posted by
10938 posts

If anyone here is seriously thinking about moving overseas, and you need an address in the U.S., think about South Dakota.

With just a private mail box, you can become a resident of South Dakota. You can get a drivers license, register to vote, everything a resident would do. And no state income tax. You only have to set foot in South Dakota once every five years to renew your drivers license. The status is known as a "full time traveler"

As long as you don't have a residence anywhere in the USA, you qualify.

You can also get a PMB with virtual mail. What happens is your mailbox place alerts you to any new mail you get. They also take a photo of the front and put it in your virtual mailbox. You can log in to see the photograph. Then, you can tell the mailbox place if they should keep it; forward it to you; open it, scan the contents and upload that to you; or destroy it.

Originally it was meant for people who live in their RV's but they quickly realized there are others who could use it.

I'm a resident of South Dakota thanks to this law.

Posted by
8263 posts

Does the SD residency solve the problem some expats have with US investment firms wanting to close their accounts because their primary residence is outside of the US?

Posted by
3567 posts

the folks on the west coast

They can chime and say I’m wrong, but IF they own their homes then the remaining costs for a non-commuting West Coast retiree won’t be that much higher than the rest of us. Property tax and automobile tabs are higher, but other things like airline tickets, fresh food, and heating and AC costs with be lower. Homeowners insurance premiums in places with thunderstorms is much higher than say California (despite earthquakes and fires). When I researched this the highest homeowners insurance rates per square ft were in Oklahoma, and about 4 times higher than California.

Posted by
13390 posts

But Tom, IF they own their own home, they have no money left for travel. We sort of got off topic. But if the OP doesnt mind, I dont. This is from Numbeo, I know their sampling is somewhat limited but its probably in the right ball park. At least from experience the San Antonio vs Budapest is in the right ball park.

Consumer Prices in San Antonio, TX are 35.12% higher than in Budapest (without rent)
Restaurant Prices in San Antonio, TX are 64.88% higher than in Budapest
Groceries Prices in San Antonio, TX are 45.50% higher than in Budapest

Consumer Prices in Seattle, WA are 91.10% higher than in Budapest (without rent)
Restaurant Prices in Seattle, WA are 121.01% higher than in Budapest
Groceries Prices in Seattle, WA are 121.95% higher than in Budapest

Consumer Prices in Los Angeles, CA are 70.95% higher than in Budapest (without rent)
Rent Prices in Los Angeles, CA are 363.36% higher than in Budapest
Restaurant Prices in Los Angeles, CA are 117.78% higher than in Budapest

Consumer Prices in San Antonio, TX are 20.86% lower than in Minneapolis, MN (without rent)
Restaurant Prices in San Antonio, TX are 11.61% lower than in Minneapolis, MN
Groceries Prices in San Antonio, TX are 27.59% lower than in Minneapolis, MN

Posted by
6850 posts

Does the SD residency solve the problem some expats have with US
investment firms wanting to close their accounts because their primary
residence is outside of the US?

It's more straighforward than that. South Dakota is a well-known tax haven, especially for wealthy individuals or those who want to hide their money. Tons of loopholes and other legal instruments like trusts that live in perpetuity and don't trigger taxes at some point. Just Google "South Dakota tax loopholes" and you'll find lots of articles like these. It's legal and welcomed.
https://www.axios.com/south-dakota-global-tax-haven-5120d206-20ab-4cc1-ba91-d1d59fe22487.html
https://www.businessinsider.com/why-rich-hide-money-south-dakota-tax-haven-pandora-papers-2021-10

Residency = virtual mailbox + mailbox address + being in the state for 24 hours every 5 years (drivers license renewal)

Posted by
10938 posts

Does the SD residency solve the problem some expats have with US investment firms wanting to close their accounts because their primary residence is outside of the US?

Yes. It is your legal residence in the USA. I actually have 2 PMB's in two different states and they are the addresses I use for everything incuding for the IRS. No problems.

This is the company I'm with:

https://www.dakotapost.net/

Their website can answer a lot of questions.

If you don't need to get a SD D/L you don't even need to go to SD. You can set it all up online.

Posted by
720 posts

James, back to learning languages. Don’t write off your ability to learn Hungarian, even though you have had difficulty with the vowels. I think your ability to hear vowels and to pronounce them will improve over time. Immersion is a great way to learn a language but there are also great internet resources for you to use when immersion isn’t possible.

I have been using Italki.com to learn Russian for the past year and I am making slow but steady progress. On italki you can select a teacher by looking at their video, resume, etc. You can do 3 trial lessons for free to help you choose a teacher. You choose the time and length of your lesson. It’s very flexible. You can choose a “professional teacher” or a “community tutor.” I chose a professional teacher because I am a beginner to the language.

There are many aspects to learning a language. Some is just pure memorization. Some takes a lot of practice — implementing grammar rules. Every language seems to have its pronunciation challenges (like ‘th’ in English) — some languages are more challenging. In the end, you need to put on the time and you will get results.

Incidentally, the State Department categorizes Hungarian (and Russian) as a “Hard Language” that would take 1100 class hours to learn. Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean are “Super Hard Languages” that would take 2200 hours to learn, so you could have picked a harder language!

Posted by
13390 posts

James, back to learning languages. Don’t write off your ability to learn Hungarian, even though you have had difficulty with the vowels. I think your ability to hear vowels and to pronounce them will improve over time. Immersion is a great way to learn a language but there are also great internet resources for you to use when immersion isn’t possible.

I never surrender. And when I am there in March I am buying hearing aids (maybe that will help). Oddly, its not a hard language to read. Very logical structure.

Posted by
6839 posts

James E: Whether your Budapest apartment is your greatest investment is not an issue. I'm sure you love the place, and the incredible location it's in because it is yours.

You have your little wine bar down the end of the block to hang in. And the local supermarket is just across the street. The bakery is around the corner with all the construction workers eating pizza for breakfast. The foods of Hungary are very suited for Americans. Cannot say the same about many places we've traveled to. But I appreciate the cost of living and the cost of travel to Hungary.

The language to English speakers is not that big of an issue. Local millennials can be seen talking English to each other in the bars--if just practicing in order to improve their English. Speaking English as a second language is so important in this modern world.

Healthcare is such an important matter to many of us, since I'm a Type II diabetic. When we were recently in Germany, we were talking to the locals about medical tourism. The said that everyone that flies down to Turkey comes back with snow white perfect teeth that they call "Turkey teeth." I guess Turkey's medical community is as completely up to date and modern as that of Budapest.

We wish we could get away longer, but we're raising a 10 year old granddaughter full time and part time for her big brother. But a trip or two a year well suits our lifestyle in an ultra low cost of living Alabama.

Posted by
244 posts

James, just wanted to jump on this thread and say go for it! I retired and moved abroad just a few months ago and it's a grand experiment. It's exciting and wonderful and nerve-wracking and so far the pros outweigh the cons. Sold my house in the US so I'm only paying for one place to live, absolutely love being in Europe, and if it doesn't work out I can always go back. That's a far better position to be in than living with regrets about not having tried. Also, this move has kept me feeling young at heart.
Cynthia

Posted by
13390 posts

Thank you both. As is evident I think. I just wanted to think out loud and appreciate all the opinions.....

Posted by
1 posts

Hubby and I would love to go back and forth 6 months Prague, 6 months Florida, 6 months Edinburgh, 6 months Florida, 6 months Athens, 6 months Florida... We're starting with a few months while we still work this year. Now to choose the right place and figure out how to work abroad (taxes, visas to start).

Posted by
2396 posts

James, an interesting website. Unfortunately our two countries are not listed.