Many of our clients find their way to our practice as they approach retirement and begin to explore the countless opportunities for the next chapter of their lives. A handful of these clients decide to pack up their bags and retire overseas. Enter the Smiths – one of our first clients to take this path, they were able to retire relatively young, sell their home in North Vancouver and settle down to start a new life in a beautiful community on the coast of Spain.
They have graciously agreed to share their story for the many people out there who may be dreaming of one day doing the same.
Both Ross and Anna hold a Masters degree in Economics. Ross worked for 27 years in Sales and Marketing roles, in various management positions for Fortune 500 companies. Anna worked for a large multi-national company for 26 years in middle management.
After their successful careers, Ross and Anna were able to retire at the young ages of 56 and 57, respectively. They have a son in their early 20’s and a family dog, both of whom joined them on their journey overseas.
What made you decide to retire overseas and why Spain?
We both had stressful jobs that involved extensive traveling and thought that a tranquil life in a warm climate would be more suitable for the third stage of our lives. We chose Spain because we had prior knowledge of the country which we accumulated during our previous trips. More importantly Spain met all our requirements:
1) A good medical system
3) Affordable cost of living
4) Good infrastructure
5) Affordable housing
6) Moderate to warm climate
What was the experience like and logistics?
Overall the experience was exciting with little to no apprehension. We knew exactly what we wanted, what to expect and mainly how to execute the move.
The actual move happened in 2017 after about two years of detailed planning. When one decides to retire overseas, it is important to visit the country of choice before making the first step. No blogs, documentaries, YouTube videos or advice from others can beat a reconnaissance visit. During our previous visits we identified the province that met our requirements. After that we started looking for the "perfect spot" and eventually ended up on the Mediterranean coast, close to Valencia.
Once the decision was made, we started tackling all aspects of the move from logistics, financial planning, real estate, immigration and documents. We allocated about two years to the transition period.
Once we better understood all of the requirements, we then met with key people in order to assess our financial needs and work out the budgetary details. Our intention from the very beginning was to entrust our financial resources with one single entity that could manage our assets. We were looking for a reputable financial institution with a solid track record in asset management and eventually selected Dominion Securities.
What were some of the big learning curves or unexpected items that came up?
As a matter of fact we didn't have many obstacles to overcome and with some minor exceptions everything went very smoothly.
How has the experience been so far?
With some minor hiccups, the experience has been very, very good.
Would you change anything or do anything different if you had to do it again (logistics, investment set-up, planning etc..):
Considerations or advice for anyone else thinking of doing something similar?
The biggest piece of advice is to do your homework properly! Visit and research the country of choice first, have a clear understanding of your financial situation and financial needs, plan accordingly, work with trustworthy people and financial institutions.
I strongly believe that preparation is the key to success. Plan in advance, get in touch with others who went through the process, hire people you can trust and allow about two years for integration. It helps a lot if one has some basic communication skills in the native language of the country, and if possible move to an area with a fair share of expats.
Working with the Smiths from the beginning of this incredible journey has been a rewarding and insightful process. As they now reside permanently in Spain, we are able to provide ongoing investment management and advice, while they enjoy the benefits and security of working with Canada’s largest financial institution. Based on their risk tolerance, time horizon and income objectives, we developed a safe, well diversified portfolio that generates a strong income stream and steady growth. On a monthly basis, we convert some of their funds into Euros and transfer the proceeds directly to their bank account in Spain.
Ross has generously offered to connect directly with anyone that may have further questions on their journey or would simply like to pick their brains on the lifestyle and nuances of retiring abroad. Please let me know if you would like to connect with Ross and I would be pleased to make an introduction.
Thank you again Ross and Anna! It has truly been a pleasure working with you for all these years, and you have given my wife and I dreams of potentially following in your path and retiring overseas one day (Philippines, Portugal and Spain all seem like nice choices).
Disclaimer: To respect the confidentiality and privacy of our clients, the names have been changed for the purpose of this article.