The end begins at 5:00 P.M. Friday, October 29 of this year. That’s when I retire after 32 years in five jobs.
Retrospectively, I’m a bit surprised at how “quickly” that 35 years seemed to go by. It’s probably because I’ve enjoyed all my jobs. Thank goodness I’ve never had the experience of dreading to go to work.
Of course, when I graduated college in 1974, retirement was in the unimaginable future. But now that future is upon me…. And I’ve been imagining it for quite a few years now!
Tuesday, I meet with Personnel to review the paperwork and procedures. I’ve already done my homework and made the most important decision: which of four options to take for being paid my retirement. Theoretically, all four options are actuarially equivalent and range from a ten-year payout (highest monthly amount) and then nothing to a lower amount for my lifetime and that same amount paid to Susie for her lifetime if I die first. Since my grandmother lived to be about 105, I’m taking that “lifetime” option!
I know exactly what I’ll be doing on the Monday after retiring. I’ll be back at my desk working! Because… I’ll have entered an optional “deferred retirement” program.
While I’m in the program, I’ll stay in my job as if I had never left. I’ll have the same salary and benefits with one exception: I’ll not be earning any more retirement credit. Each month, my retirement check will be deposited into an account earning three percent interest. I can’t access those funds until I leave the deferred retirement program.
When I do leave, I’ll receive the accumulated amount in any way I want: a lump sum cash payout, transfer to my deferred compensation account or a combination of both. For tax purposes, most of it will transfer to my deferred compensation account…but I’ll take out some poker money! 😉
Although I can stay in the program for up to five years, I plan to stay no more than three years. By then, I’ll be 62 and can collect Social Security. Susie will have turned 62 a year before that and already have started collecting. So we’ll have four income streams plus my deferred compensation account.
After I leave the deferred retirement program, there’s going to be another big decision which I’ll be exploring over the next three years. That’s whether to stay in this country. And it’s not looking good for staying…
From living in the Philippines, I know that my retirement dollars will go much further overseas. Costa Rica is very high on the list, and I’ll visit there before deciding. A high school friend whose father was a Firestone executive lived in a number of countries besides the Philippines, including Costa Rica and India. He said that if he retired outside the U.S. it’d be to Costa Rica. He loved it even as it was in the ’60’s.
A somewhat distant second is the Philippines. I probably qualify for quick citizenship since I was born there and if I’m a citizen then Susie comes in too as a spouse. Acquiring citizenship in another country does not result in my losing U.S. citizenship unless that is my intention, according to the State Department’s website.
I can easily enter the Philippines without citizenship. As with Costa Rica, there’s a special resident visa for retirees. The Philippines has a separate bureaucracy devoted to attracting retirees – the Philippine Retirement Authority, which issues a special “retiree” visa without the applicant going through the Immigration Department.
Costa Rica requires proof of a government pension (such as Social Security) at a minimum amount and exchanging a lower amount into the local currency each month. The Philippines requires depositing $10,000 into a time account at a Philippine bank and depositing / exchanging a certain amount into a Philippine bank each month.
Costa Rica has more advantages. It’s closer to the U.S. and has an inexpensive “you pick the doctor and hospital” health care plan for foreigners. There’s a huge American expat community there because Costa Rica, which abolished its military in the late 40’s, built up its health care system to attract American retirees.
The Philippines’ main advantage is that I know lots of people there from my high school days. I’d have an instant social network which I’d not have in Costa Rica. Plus, Susie would get by easier since the Philippines is one of the largest English-speaking countries (third or fourth) in the world.
For information about retiring in Costa Rica, check out this website. For the Philippines, here’s the Philippine Retirement Authority website.