Finding Your Way Back

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Even if you’re certain that you want to retire abroad, you should recognize that this commitment could change, experts tell us.

Many people eventually return to the United States, says Jennifer Stevens, who is the executive editor of International Living magazine. “They come back to the states for the grandkids’ graduation or to see the new baby,” she says.

Stevens suggests that if you retire abroad, “it can make life at a distance easier if you keep a bank account open” in the United States. Of course, leaving enough money in the accounts to avoid paying fees makes sense. You also should keep paying into Medicare, Stevens says, so you won’t have a gap in coverage if you come back. For example, if you were to let Medicare lapse, you can re-enroll only during certain periods, and even then, you might be subject to late-payment penalties or even all past unpaid premiums, depending on your plan. How much that you might owe depends on the number of premium payments that you miss and whether premiums increased. According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the 2016 premium increase is 52 percent, to $159.30 per month from $104.90.

Finally, expats Jim and Rita Santos suggest that you hang on to your U.S. home even if it means renting it for a while, as a “safety net,” the Santoses say.