Retirement leads to more questions than answers

Portugal on the map

Social Security StatementA few years back we started discussing the retirement options. We decided I should take social security at 62 while Mike continued to work.  After he reached 66, we began to revisit the questions again. Since most of his work is performed as a contractor (i.e., not FTE) in 6 to 60 month gigs, it is easy to put off the retirement decision each time a contract expires and a new one starts.

Passport to the world
Passport to the world

Last fall I had a news feed come up about 50 best places to retire in the world. Since that first feed, there have been a lot of those kinds of articles show up in my feed. It was interesting at first to explore the options. There were so many options. It became almost overwhelming. I subscribed to International Living Magazine to read more info on the topics. I joined Facebook groups to help me understand the ins-and-outs of being ex-pat in a specific country.

Last fall I narrowed it to Portugal, Panama, Ecuador or stay right here in our condo. From the more interesting three (somewhere new and “exotic”), we decided to visit Portugal first.  Links to my entries on our June 2019 visit to Portugal are listed at the bottom of this entry.

After nearly 12 months of reading, texting with other expats, reading their blogs, etc., I have more questions than answers for sure. Immigrating to Portugal, for example, has a ton of paperwork.

I, for one, had thought that immigrating to the US would supposedly be easy.  I have since realized that no matter where one goes, if it is outside of your native country, there is a ton of paperwork.  I am not looking to become a Portuguese citizen nor give up my American citizenship or passport (although there are moments when I have been so ashamed of our political leaders, what they say and how they act, as to wish I was anything else but an American).

I decided to start documenting my questions, specifically about immigrating to Portugal, but possibly the other two countries as well. As I find out answers I will answer the questions in entries here, with each question getting its own entry on this blog. So here are the beginnings of my questions:

First Questions:

RE: Paperwork for immigration:

What paperwork process needs to be completed?

Once paperwork is completed, where is it to be sent?

What is the timeframe for paperwork to be completed and sent?

What happens after we get approved?

What is the timeframe to move after we get our first approval?

RE: Insurance requirements and needs

What are the requirements to qualify for medical insurance?

What if you are on Medicare already – do you keep it?

RE: Finances:

How does one convert their US Dollars to Euros (or any other denomination) without taking a bath on the exchange rate?

What about foreign transaction fees?

How do you open a local bank account?

RE: Working in a foreign country:

Can we work – even if it is a home-based business, online business or contract such as we have had here in the US?

RE: Location of residence:

Where in does one choose to live – north, south, east, west or in the middle?

How much does it cost to rent in any given locale?

If one buys, how much will it cost and what about insurance and property taxes?

RE: Transportation:

Can you live there without a car?

What kinds of public transportation is there, what does it cost and how to qualify for it?

RE: The Move:

What to take with us?

What are the limitations for bringing belongings into a country?

What can we get there that we can eliminate from our “take with us” list?

What do we really need?

Electrical requirements are different, so do we take any electrical apparatus, personal or appliance?

What about Internet Connectivity?

Pets – can we take a pet with us? What documentation must we have if we do?


Below are the entries from our first adventure to Portugal. We fell in love with Lisbon and the countryside we saw from the trains. The food and wine are beyond incredible.  The people were warm and welcoming.  I never felt threatened or insecure.  I still don’t know if we can afford to move there, but it is certainly worth investigation.

Heading for Portugal!

Lisbon – At Last!

Jetlag and Living in Lisboa

Visiting A. Liberdade

Zenith, Brunch and Cocktails

Bits and Bites

11 Tips For Travel To Portugal (Lisboa)

Tram 28, The Lisboa Experience

A Weekend in Lisboa

Lisbon’s Sardine Festival

Cascais – A Day Trip

Festival Night – June 12, 2019

Sabot Lucky Burgers-Sintra

If you have an additional question about retiring as an expat, no matter which country, comment below and I will see if we can get it answered for you.  Thanks for reading.

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