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Preparing yourself for a 'life of leisure'

| Thursday, April 1, 2010

This morning was different.

This morning — like nearly every morning for the past several decades — you rolled over, slapped the alarm and thought about your day ahead, hoping for a little free time but knowing that was probably impossible, just like it has been for years.

And that's what made this morning different. This morning, you knew you were done . You can't stand it anymore. You want out, desperately.

Travel posters have caught your eye lately, and so have touristy TV commercials. But that kind of life is only for dreamers, isn't it?

Not always, says Kathleen Peddicord. In her new book, "How to Retire Overseas," you'll find out how easy it is to spend the rest of your days out-of-country.

So you think a life of leisure is the life for you• You've harbored a childhood dream of living in South America, Paris, the Orient. You've always wanted to see the world. But before you go, there are a few steps you can take at home to make the dream a reality and the transition smoother.

First of all, says Peddicord, know yourself. Are you an impatient sort• Can you remain calm if the electricity fails or you can't get online• Is your health relatively good• Can you stand to be away from the kids and grandkids• What kind of climate do you enjoy• Do you speak a second language•

Next, decide what you can afford, what you can't live without, and how you'll manage your money. Many countries "roll out the red carpet" for retirees, and that can make life abroad surprisingly budget-friendly. Know your options before you go, though, and that includes taxes. As a resident of another country, you may need to pay taxes in both countries. Peddicord recommends hiring a top-notch attorney with experience in international tax issues.

Decide if you want to rent or buy a home, understand the monetary differences for both, and know that the real estate market in other countries is very different than what you're used to here. Check into the cost of utilities, and call your local cell phone provider to see what international coverage they offer. Research residency options, visas, and necessary paperwork. Sign up for international health care. Store your stuff. Pack. Go.

Before I started reading "How to Retire Overseas," I was dreaming of white beaches and haciendas. One of the curious things about this book, though, is that it might talk you out of retiring abroad just as much as it might convince you.

Author Kathleen Peddicord, who lives abroad with her family, leaves only a few foreign stones unturned in this book, giving readers step-by-step pointers as well as insights to several travel-tested locales that are retiree-friendly. That's helpful, as are the challenges and pitfalls she honestly includes toward the back of this enticing book.

If you're done hitting the alarm clock and you're thinking of throwing a dart at a map instead, stop first and read this. "How to Retire Overseas" could lend a refreshingly different look at your future.

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