Jaimie Seaton reports: After working as an environmental engineer for nearly 40 years, Ann Kuffner had had enough of corporate politics. She and her husband, Michael Brunette, who owned a contracting business, were overworked and burned out.
“We made good money, but worked like dogs. We had little free time for family, friends, or hobbies,” says Kuffner, 68, via email from her home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. “Once we figured out that we could retire early due to the low cost of living overseas, we took a risk and went for it.”
While still in their 50s, the couple left California and retired to Belize in 2008, where they pursued their passion for scuba diving and other water sports. They decided to relocate to Mexico last year because they wanted more cultural stimulation, and Kuffner says the health care in Belize was not adequate for people their age (Brunette is 69).
The couple is among a growing segment of Americans opting to retire abroad. As of April 2019, the Social Security Administration was sending 685,000 payments to beneficiaries overseas — a 40 percent increase over the past 10 years — but that’s likely just the tip of the iceberg.
“Most people continue to bank in the U.S. and have their Social Security checks deposited at home, even if they themselves are physically abroad,” says Jennifer Stevens, executive director of International Living, a website and publication that advises people on living, working, and retiring overseas.
It’s impossible to know exactly how many people retire abroad, but Stevens — who has been at International Living for 23 years — says the numbers are increasing. And not just for Baby Boomers or those who retire completely.
“We’re definitely seeing more people retiring part-time abroad, in part because they want the flexibility, and also because they have older parents they need to attend to,” Stevens says. “The other trend we’re seeing is people retiring earlier. People are saying, ‘I’m not going to wait until I’m 65; I hate my job. My accountant is saying I have to stick it out for another 8 years. No I don’t. I’m just going to retire now and go overseas.'”
In many of the hot retirement spots around the world, the cost of living is substantially lower. Food, housing, and domestic help is often cheaper. Plus, many other countries boast excellent health care at a fraction of the costs found in the U.S., which makes retiring abroad sound awfully appealing. But how is it done? Can you really … (read more)