The Financial Guide to Retiring Abroad: How to retire overseas, avoid tax, invest wisely, and save your money Paperback – Oct 19 2010
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Retiring abroad can indeed be a wise choice, but you need to go into it with your eyes open. There are many traps for the unwary once you leave the familiar surroundings of your own country, and many people who may try to take advantage of your naivete by selling you property that they don't have a clear title to, offering you health insurance that won't be there when you need it, or inducing you to put your savings in an uninsured bank. This book will help you steer clear of the traps, and achieve the expatriate lifestyle that you seek.
When you've worked all your life to save for a happy retirement, it only makes sense to plan carefully if you are thinking about becoming an expat. Other books tell you how great it can be to retire abroad. Indeed it can be, but you need this book to make sure that when you do retire to that dream location, you'll be happy, healthy and financially secure. I've never seen another book like it, and it should be on every expat retiree's bookshelf. The author's style can be quite blunt, but I think that's because he knows what he's talking about from first-hand experience in a variety of foreign locales. By buying it, you'll be doing yourself a favor.
I have only partially read the book, but I have come to the conclusion that anything I might "learn" from it would be so suspect that I would be best off ignorant. This is not to say that there is a complete dearth of information for people that are completely new to the subject, but that the useful information is not very usefully presented and is served with a thick, gooey sauce of poorly educated opinion.
First of all, the author" experience of living abroad appears to come from 4 years spent working (at unspecified jobs) in the UK, Dubai, and Bahrain. None of these either are, or representative of, popular retirement destinations. Personal experiences abroad outside of these places are notably lacking in the narrative. The author claims that he is a writer of financial services information, but his writing style is lifeless and crude and he cites no publications other than this book (clearly published without the assistance of an editor) and his own blog (last updated over a 1 1/2 yeas ago). I will credit him with being honest enough to not lie about his lack of experience, although I expect that he doesn't quite appreciate what little value his experience brings to the endeavor.
Although the author has done some research on various countries of interest, the information he presents appears to have been culled from a small number of online resources and is incompletely and not very usefully presented. A favored technique is to rankings of livability, corruption, of some other metric by listing the top 10 (mostly developed) countries, then 10 other more affordable countries with their ranking. If a country you are interested is not among the somewhat arbitrary selection, tough luck--he does not cite sources. You will search in vain for a bibliography as well. I sincerely doubt that research occupied more than a week of his time.
Much of the book is really the author's opinion, and he is not educated or experienced enough about the subject for that to be of value. He does present some advice that is reasonably sound and he comes from a more balanced position that most writers on these subject (as the previous reviewer pointed out), but he suffers from large gaps in his own knowledge and paints everything with a broad brush which fails to distinguish between countries that are very different. The first chapter on real estate (the only one that I read completely) strongly cautions against buying real estate. I actually think this is basically good advice, but there are exceptions (if you don't buy in Spain, you may be priced out of the rental market in the future) and there are situations where other consideration may outweigh the financial risks, and the author does nothing to either help the reader determine circumstances that might justify deviation from his basic recommendation, nor does he distinguish between the risks in various countries. Latin America is treated as though it is collection of Banana Republics in which revolutions and coupes are just around the corner and shady realtors and corrupt officials will rob you blind if Government's overthrow is running behind schedule. The fact is that 1)Latin America has changed dramatically in the last two decades and 2) while none of the countries are as safe to buy real estate in as the US, the extent and nature of the risk varies dramatically between countries. This sort of indiscriminate treatment may crudely serve the author's argument, but not in a way that is beneficial to the reader's understanding of a complex and possibly relevant issue. I have looked at enough of the book to determine that this sort of over-generalization is typical.
I bought this book because I wanted to to get a good handle on the financial consideration of retiring abroad. I am not considering expatriate living solely for financial reasons (I could retire reasonably comfortably in the suburbia, but it would be...boring), but as my income comes from US investments, the financial consequences are important to my choice. I would prefer to have a single, recent, and fairly comprehensive resource from an authoritative source rather than rather that try to assemble it from multiple sources that may have very different levels of expertise and different objectives. The title led me to think this might be the book, but, as I have mentioned, I no longer trust the information in the book enough that I would rely on it, although I still may find it of some use. I cannot recommend that anyone else buy it, as a major decision like this requires careful research and I believe that any valid information in this book will be uncovered from other sources in the course of such research. If the author had credited his sources, I would give it 2 stars, because it would at least serve as a starting point for further investigation, but as it is it is not worth your time to read it, so don't waste your money as well.
As a minus, the author has only lived abroad in countires in the middle east--not likely retirement destinations.
He has, however been able to translate the knowledge gained into insights in how to protect yourself and your finances should you choose to retire in one of the less developed nations. He gives detailed financial advice for how to proceed.
I was pleased to see the inclusion of information regarding travel immunizations, a must for visits to developing countries.
The book is not long on those philosophical questions as, Am I a city person? What is the scenery like? His recommendation to visit a location for a month at a time, during several times of year is one a potential retiree should heed.
This is also the only book that has offered concrete tips on saving for retirement and evaluating your choices given funds available.