You Always Need A Plan B

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If you understand the saying "Shit Happens", you also realize there are things you can do to mitigate the adverse effects of shit happening to you.  And when I say mitigate, I'm not saying you can stop the shit - because shit happens regardless of preparation.  There is nothing you can do to stop it.  However, there are ways to "soften" the impact of shit happening to you and it all begins with establishing a PLAN B.


Deciding to move offshore, away from your comfortable lifestyle, is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make.

Whether you are a couple entering into the retirement phase of your life, a younger couple who just decided to get the hell out while the getting is good or maybe you are alone and want to make a fresh start on life; whatever the reasons, your decision to enter into the expat lifestyle is going to be a big one.  And with all huge decisions, you need to plan for, or at least recognize, that SHIT MAY HAPPEN.  Having a solid Plan B while you are developing and executing your Plan A is absolutely essential.

DO AS I SAY... NOT AS I DO

In our case, we were faced with a serious situation, both of us having lost our jobs in 2008, we were facing a rapid depletion of our net worth unless we did something radical.  Selling everything and moving to Costa Rica was pretty radical but it reduced our financial burn from $6000 per month to $2400.  For us it was a do or die situation.

The driving force feeding our move was the exorbitantly high cost of health insurance and "out of pocket" medical expenses.  Being only 58 years old (at the time), we were still 7 years away from being eligible for Medicare.  So our Plan B was to re-evaluate when we were 65.  But in reality, that was not really a plan, rather only a decision point on our timeline.  Truth be told, we had no plan B.  Should everything have come crashing down on us in 2010, we had no where to go.  Our options were nil.

WHY THE SUDDEN INTEREST IN A PLAN B?

Recently, I received a notice from our friends at ARCR (the Association for Residents of Costa Rica).  They informed me that my monthly CAJA premiums were going to increase from (an affordable) $73 to a whopping $252 per month.  Thank goodness I am over 55 else my premiums would be running over $450!  THAT'S INSANE!  So that got me thinking...

Just for giggles, I went on the new Affordable Care Act website and started looking around at my options, should I need health insurance in the U.S. today!  To my surprise, I learned that I would be able to purchase high quality health insurance (for me and Fran) from providers like United Healthcare, Humana or Blue Cross for between $200-$500 per month... total.

Finally, we are now able to seriously look at developing a real Plan B strategy and (if need be), do it before we are eligible for Medicare.


DON'T READ INTO THIS ANY MORE THAN WHAT IS WRITTEN... 

YES, Fran and I just got back from the States where we began doing Plan B due diligence... but that was it.  So all you rumor mongers out there (and you know who you are), get this straight - we are not moving back to the States... for now. 

While in the States, we met with several insurance companies and talked to them about current medical insurance costs that contained rollover provisions for when we reached Medicare age.  We also looked at other relative costs such as housing, gasoline, electricity. 

Not to my surprise, I discovered many of the things we buy and use today in Costa Rica are way more expensive than in the States.  For example, our (per kilowatt hour) electric rate is 2.5 times higher in CR than in the US.  Virtually anything imported into CR is twice that of the States.  Gasoline is $3.34 a gallon in Florida while we spend $5.25 here.  But in fairness, I pay $200 a year for auto insurance, medical out of pocket costs are is 80% cheaper and buying my fruits and veggies at the local farmers markets are way cheaper. 

But, without doing a massive cost based analysis, comparing the US to CR, most people are now saying it is a financial wash.  But I do realize that we are comparing apples and oranges.  One needs to look at and compare "quality of life."  Unfortunately, I have not been able to build an Excel spreadsheet that can perform that comparison.

My point of this little mini rant is that everybody who decides to move here should also develop a strategy that allows them to return or move on to other things in an orderly and financially responsible manor.


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