The economic downturn of recent years has had an impact on the lives of most Americans. The value of many retirement accounts has been drastically cut, house prices have dropped, unemployment rates have risen, and millions of Americans have been forced to tighten their belts in order to make it through these hard times.
Those who are close to their retirement years have been hit the hardest and time is not on their side. Retirees don’t have the luxury to wait for the market to rebound because they are depleting their assets in order to simply meet current financial obligations. Freelance workers also have been hit just as hard. However, as essentially self-employed, independent contractors, freelancers have one huge advantage over other job seekers. Many are able to do most of their work online, are independent, and are not tied down to one particular geographic location. For different reasons, much of this holds true for retirees, as well.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we see an increasing number of people looking for alternatives to living and/or retiring in America. If you are one of them, certain factors should be considered before deciding to relocate abroad. First, the cost of living in the country of your choice has to warrant your relocation. Access to proper healthcare also should be a primary. The overall weather and climate also may be deciding factors, especially for those dealing with pre-existing health conditions.
Those who seek the perfect country to move to often stumble upon three perhaps not-so-obvious contenders for relocation: Thailand, Belize and the Philippines. These countries have one thing in common, and that is a very low cost of living.
Thailand offers high-quality healthcare as long as you stay close to the major cities. Even though medical care is available in other parts of the country, it is limited. Thailand offers beautiful beaches, Buddhist temples, shopping, and numerous outdoor activities. While it’s tropical weather appeals to most who search to relocate, it may not be as desirable to others. The low cost of living translates into big savings for Americans trying to stretch their money. A typical flat in the northern parts of the country is usually available for around $30 per month. $90 will get you a room in an apartment nearer to the coast. Perhaps the biggest challenge to expatriates, however, is the Thai language.
Belize, in Central America, is another popular destination for Americans trying to start anew. Its subtropical climate, exquisite beaches, and diverse wildlife make it an excellent choice. The cost of living is considerably lower than in America, too. For example, a large house in the Cayo district, about an hour away from Belize City, will cost around $300 per month. Locally purchased groceries are very cheap and generally available from street vendors and local markets. Healthcare in Belize is available and adequate for general medical care, but complicated procedures are better undertaken in the United States. Communication problems will not arise in Belize as most natives speak English.
The third appealing destination for freelancers and retirees is the Philippines. Life in the Philippines costs no more than $500 a month in the developed provinces like Cabu. Sandy beaches, shopping, golf, and many other activities are all readily available. An apartment will cost around $150 per month, and groceries around $200 per month. The healthcare system in the Philippines is well developed and provides good quality healthcare. In addition, around 90% of the population speaks and understands English, so communication will not be a problem there.
While these three destinations offer many amenities and a comparable cost of living, they’re each still very different in terms of their individual cultures. Laws and regulations vary, as do the conditions under which you’re allowed to enter the country. Vaccinations may be required and a passport is required to enter into each of these countries, so before you pack up your belongings be sure to research which documents you will need in order to relocate.