‘Working Retirees’ Abroad: Another Facet of Expat Life

retiringMoving abroad after retirement in pursuit of cheaper living expenses, enjoyable climate, and a relaxed lifestyle is nothing new. However, a recent NYTimes article argues that the trend of relocating abroad for work after retirement is gaining appeal. Also echoed by another NYTimes article, it is noted that more American retirees are choosing to take a ‘working retirement’, and they choose to do that abroad.

Naturally, deciding to continue a working life after retirement has to do with economic reasons, fear of outliving one’s savings, or being short of retirement benefits. Yet, as the personal stories described in the two articles imply, there are more reasons in favor of working retirement abroad than just financial appeal. As mentioned earlier, picking a destination for relocation entails choosing the culture, climate, and lifestyle that one prefers. At the same time, continuing to work in some fashion (e.g. part time or becoming an entrepreneur) is a way of keeping oneself active and engaged. Working life abroad is perceived as an exciting continuous journey that many retirees do not want to give up on. Displaying this complexity of reasons for working retirement abroad, one retiree said:

“When you make a decision to live abroad, there’s never a singular reason…Yes, it has to do with affordability and having your retirement income be expanded. But like other expats working here, I wanted to be adventurous and have new learning opportunities.” (NYTimes, May 14th)

As such, when continuing with the working expat lifestyle after retirement, retirees seem to enjoy all the benefits of life abroad, in addition to the appreciated lower costs of living and medical care.

Given that we live in the Internet age, the choices of moving to the place that one likes while also sustaining an employment status seem to become even easier. The allure of virtual work is that it does not imply choosing a relocation place according to job opportunities. Instead, as noted in the article, it does not matter much where you live as long as you can organize your work online. Apart from being flexible in terms of employee location, virtual work implies also flexible work schedules, which should be very appealing to retirees.

Although ‘working retirement’ abroad may sound ideal, it has its difficulties.  Different from just settling abroad for a traditional retirement, becoming a working retiree abroad entails all the challenges of taxation and labour laws. Moreover, when relocating to a country, which is culturally distant from one’s home environment, creating a new working network may require good knowledge of host country business etiquette. Hence, similar to any work related relocation abroad, when embarking on a working retirement abroad one may face plenty of operational challenges, which should be accounted for and preferably assisted by relocation professionals.

2 thoughts on “‘Working Retirees’ Abroad: Another Facet of Expat Life

  1. Part time work is the best option for retirees as of my opinion, they should be having a bit of time off for them to enjoy their sunset years.

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