FOR Americans looking to retire abroad, deciding where to live can be a challenge. But Lynne and Tim Martin took that question off the table by deciding to retire everywhere and anywhere.
In 2011 the couple opted for what might be called extreme retirement abroad: They sold their Paso Robles, California, home, jettisoned all but a few treasured possessions and became nomads.
Since then, they have lived in short-term rental apartments and houses around the world, usually found through HomeAway.com, the online vacation rental service.
They spend two or three months a year in the United States, where they also live in vacation rentals.
So far they’ve lived in Mexico, Argentina, Turkey, France, Italy, Britain, Ireland, Portugal and Germany. South-East Asia, Australia, French Polynesia, Canada and a return to South America are on the agenda.
“I just felt strongly that I hadn’t had enough of the outside world to suit me, and really wanted to go experience living in some other places,” Lynne says.
Lynne, 73, is a former publicist; Tim, 68, owned a small electronics business and writes novels. This year they published a book about their experiences called Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World.
As the Martins talked about how they could forge a footloose lifestyle, they decided to tap the wealth built up in their home and possessions.
“We had a portfolio, but not a huge one – we’re not wealthy,” she says. “We took the money out of the house and added that to the portfolio.”
Their financial adviser sends them the same US$6,000 monthly stipend they had been receiving as California homeowners. They live on that plus their Social Security benefits.
They aim to spend no more than US$2,500 monthly on housing, including utilities and cleaning. In a pricey spot such as Paris, they’ll downsize the amount of space they rent.
They also figure on US$1,000 for food and US$500 for entertainment and travel. The rest is for miscellaneous expenses.
Since Medicare doesn’t provide coverage outside the United States, they see their doctors during visits home.
If healthcare needs come up while abroad, where care tends to be less expensive, they pay out of pocket.
While they’re outside the United States, they also carry an international health insurance policy to cover unexpected large expenses – US$400 a month.
One way they’ve kept costs down is by limiting the amount of travel. They tend to stay in one place for months at a time, often scheduling travel at off-season prices.
One favourite tactic: off-season “repositioning cruises.” “Prices go down by half, and it’s great for people like us who don’t have a home – we get room and board as well as transportation.”
“We went to Europe in February last year,” she says. “It was snowing in Venice when we arrived, but it didn’t matter to us - we weren’t coming home until October.” – Reuters
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