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One way to finance the golden years: Retire abroad

  • More and more, soon-to-be retirees are thinking of heading overseas.
  • Outside of the U.S., the cost of living can be half what it is in this country, but you have to have a sense of adventure, according to International Living's Dan Prescher.

More and more, soon-to-be retirees are thinking of heading overseas.

With older Americans increasingly responsible for their own financial security, workers are becoming steadily more pessimistic about their future economic prospects as they approach retirement age, according to a study by United Income, a startup that aims to apply big-data analysis to financial planning.

But instead of working longer, some are finding that they can still fulfill their retirement dreams with a move abroad, according to Dan Prescher, a senior editor at International Living.

World's Best Places to Retire

10. Malta
9. Portugal
8. Nicaragua
7. Spain
6. Malaysia
5. Colombia
4. Costa Rica
3. Ecuador
2. Panama
1. Mexico

Source: International Living

"Especially over the last decade, a lot more people are doing it — it's not a foreign concept anymore," he said.

"Outside the U.S., the cost of living can be half what it is in the States, especially in regards to health care," Prescher said. (For example, Numbeo.com's latest Cost of Living Index Rate listing ranks Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at 37.12 on its scale, with New York City being 100; Columbus, Ohio coming in at 72.12; and Reno, Nevada, at 61.75.)

However, "you have to have a sense of adventure," Prescher added. "These are different cultures, languages, economies," he said. "If you don't like challenging yourself like that, you won't have a good time."

Each year, International Living publishes a short list of the best countries in which to retire. Called the Annual Global Retirement Index, the list takes into consideration factors such as health care, cost of living and climate, and then calculates a final score for each country.

For his part, Prescher — although not yet retired — is currently living with his wife in Guadalajara, Mexico. He said he moved in part for the adventure but also "to check out for ourselves the options we'd eventually have when we retired."

"And to never shovel snow again," he added.