Baby Boomers Redefining Retirement   1 comment

Last year I met a guy in one of my favorite hotel bars in San Jose, Costa Rica. The year before he had retired to Costa Rica. A little older than me, perhaps in his mid 60’s he and his wife had spent a good part of their later work years saving and planning their dream retirement, a golf course community in beautiful Costa Rica was the way they decided that they would spend their years after a life of work and raising their family. As I listened to his story I wandered why he sounded so sad. And what was he doing in San Jose, a about a three hour drive from his home. And then he said it. The most horrible thing, his wife had died. And he was alone in this retirement community that was their dream. Now he was faced with some decisions. Some very difficult decisions!

Costa Rica and Panama, principally in Latin America, have spent millions and developed great incentives for people to move there in their retirement. Both countries have stable governments and economies. The dollar is accepted in both countries. In Panama retirees pay no tax on foreign income earned. Foreigners can buy property in both countries with the same rights and protections as citizens. Panama has a retirement incentive program. Both countries offer access to their world class health care and in both countries English is spoken widely. Panama offers exemptions from import duties, construction materials and equipment, income, real estate taxes, etc. Both countries offer great telecommunications systems with access to the internet readily available.

I am a baby boomer. In fact, I will turn 61 this Saturday, July 30, the day I leave for Cartagena and then on to Barranquilla to find an apartment. It is estimated that a baby boomer, a person born between 1946 and 1964, turns 60 every eight seconds in the United States. With the potential of 70 to 80 baby boomer retirees over the next decade many other countries, like Nicaragua, Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay also have seen that attracting some of these potential retirees may be great for them and their economies. In February, 2011, the Tico Times published an article, entitled “Why are so many baby boomers retiring in Central America?” In the article Ryan Piercy, head of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR), stated “Central America and Latin America are going to receive at least 250,000 American retirees over the next 15 years. And of all the options in the region, the majority, in my opinion, will go to Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.”

With the United States Congress still undecided about the Colombian Free Trade Agreement, It is probably not coincidental that on July 20, 2011 USA TODAY carrier a twenty page supplement on Colombia. No one should underestimate the country’s interest in strengthening economic ties with the United States. The insert goes to great links to move Colombia to the forefront of the minds of north American’s as a safe, stable, thriving economy ready to receive visitors and residents from all over the world. And I for one (yes, shameless self-interest) am hoping that they like other Latin and South American countries catch the fever and begin to offer incentive for retirees to more there. Already two of their banks, Banco de Bogota and BanColombia, are able to receive social security checks by direct deposit.

What is true for me is also true for many of my fellow baby boomer. We are not the buy a piece of property on the golf course types. Bridge every Thursday, a planned movie once a week, dinner at the club house, and endless golf – on the same course – is not appealing. A generation or more certainly thought so. The economic downturn notwithstanding, many of us still have more discretionary money after 60 than the generation before us. But we have no intention of not working or doing something that either makes money or contributes to the greater good. We want our lives to continue to be healthy. We want diversity. We want to be active. We want to learn and explore.

My own goals are to buy some property to renovation and rent. I will tutor one or two students in subjects they are having difficulty with, for free. I plan to conduct several tours a year with a focus on linking African Americans to the cultures of both Costa Rica and Colombia. I may teach some. And of course, I will write and travel. So maybe it is not retirement that I am doing. Maybe I am just changing my life. Perhaps we should coin a new term for baby boomers. We baby boomers are not retiring. We are in “re-creation”.

Posted July 28, 2011 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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One response to “Baby Boomers Redefining Retirement

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  1. hola
    su articulo me pone a pensar mucho acerca de mi futuro ,, una mujer de 40 años que aun no ha ahorrado para su vejes 😦 ,, pero mi retiro de la vida labora si lo tengo bien pensado ,, alejada del bullisio de la ciudad ,,, en el campo ,, con mis plantas y mi pintura ,,, resivir visita de mis hijos los domingos ,,, delicioso y por supuesto al lado de un hombre ,,,

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