If you’re contemplating your first move overseas, attending an expat conference can be an excellent way to start. I’ve been to a few, and you can read about them:
- Top 20 Country Choices for your Overseas Retirement
- How to Jumpstart your Overseas Move
- Why you should NEVER Attend an Expat Conference
- Panama Expat Conference — Hot Air or Helpful?
When you attend an expat conference you get a lot of information. You also get more — much more.
#1 Country Information
You’ll get scads of information about the country you’re interested in. Typically that will include facts and figures about
- health care
- cost of living
- banking and insurance
- visas and residency
- finances and taxes
- specific cities and towns that appeal to expats
Often you’ll meet successful builders with projects in areas you might like, people who run volunteer efforts you could spend some time with, and more.
#2 Meet the People
While it’s helpful to get that fire hose of information in one place over just a few days, even better is the chance to meet people — people who are planning the move as well as those who’ve already done it.
You can hear firsthand about what it’s like to actually live in the country.
After you talk with other conference attendees, you might come away with a very different impression than you had from reading websites and magazines!
And that’s a good thing.
For example, I get really bugged when I read online, “oh, it’s easy to live in Panama without speaking any Spanish.” Perhaps in Panama City (though that’s not been my experience there). But where I live? Absolutely untrue.
If you can’t handle basic Spanish — enough to call a cab, order in a restaurant, or transact business in a store — you’re not likely to be happy here.
When you attend a conference and speak with someone who actually lives in Panama’s interior, you’ll find out lots that doesn’t make it into the pages of any glossy magazine.
#3 Broader Perspective
By meeting folks who’ve already made the move as well as those who are planning to, you’ll get a broader perspective on the whole process. You’ll get the first-hand assurance that moving abroad is something that’s doable.
You’ll get real-world, first-hand experience answers to questions about importing your household goods, cars and pets or opening bank accounts.
You’ll see people from different backgrounds, with different educational levels and different financial resources sharing similar dreams and goals.
You’ll realize that you’re not crazy, unpatriotic, or any of the other things you might be hearing from family and friends back home.
If you haven’t decided yet which country meets your criteria for best destination overseas, the Retire Overseas Conference is your best bet.
Retire Overseas Conference
September 4-6, 2013
San Antonio, Texas
The staff of Live & Invest Overseas have assembled a ton of information and experts to discuss their top 21 picks for overseas retirement. They’ll be meeting in San Antonio, TX in their only US conference this year.
At this conference you’ll learn about 21 different countries and hear from expats who’ve been living and working all over the world, including Asia, Europe and the Americas.
Click this link, then select Retire Overseas Conference 2013 from the menu on the left.
Specific Country Conferences
These conferences will all be held in the country, so when you attend the conference you’ll also get boots on the ground. Lots of attendees plan a week or more of exploration before or after the conference.
Panama: August 21-23, 2013
Ecuador: November, 2013. Details to be announced.
In 2014, they’re planning conferences for
- Europe (will include specifics about several top European choices including France, Italy and Croatia)
- Asia (will include specifics on several top Asian choices including Thailand)
I’m looking for other organizations that sponsor conferences I feel confident recommending. (There is another big publisher in the expat arena, but I don’t recommend them because they don’t present a balanced picture.)
If you’re aware of another conference organizer worth recommending, I’d love to hear about them.
Over $1,000 per person for the conference? I’m sorry Susanne, but these conferences really disturb me. In my humble opinion, they only cater to wealthy expats. I know we never could have afforded to attend one of these conferences. It doesn’t even include airfare. And look at the list of speakers…real estate developers…tax consultants…land developers…lawyers. I think the average person looking to retire abroad could find what they are looking for by simply reading expat blogs, visiting in the country of their choice, and networking with expats who are living there. Expats have no vested interest and will tell other potential expats the truth. Just my two cents. It’s always good to have a different perspective from a not for profit expat.
LOL, Debbie, different strokes and all that.
First off, if you take advantage of early bird and other discounts the price drops considerably. Second, while I agree it’s easier for the wealthier expats to attend, I managed to do so at a time when our financial situation was incredibly dire. It took us several years to get from Florida to Panama, but had I not attended the conference I think it would have taken at least a year longer. Let’s see. . . a year’s worth of additional debt vs. a few hundred (or even a few thousand dollars). . .
I also was reading like mad, I was in touch with lots of expats on the ground through various forums, etc., and was networking like crazy.
With that said, some conferences are better than others.
As to who speaks, yes, there are developers and tax consultants. Even those of us without a lot in the way of assets need to know some basics about how the tax laws affect us (those were the most sparsely attended sessions, BTW). There were also expats who’d been here a while, health care professionals, reps from volunteer organizations, folks talking about the kinds of businesses expats have started here. . . I felt it was a pretty well-rounded offering.
And it gave me a very specific time to visit the country, not a general “someday. . .”
If you don’t see the value, that’s perfectly ok.
These conferences are a total waste of time and money in my opinion. The only way you can decide if a country is right for you is to experience the country with boots on the ground. You cannot “learn” about living in a country from a fancy hotel conference room with a lot of sugar coated overpriced information.
Instead of seeing photo shopped slides, it is much better to actually SEE the country, talk to people who live there, eat at local restaurants, go in to grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacy, and see where expats live.
These retire overseas conferences usually have one sales pitch after another. Their immigration attorney charges twice what others charge (so they can pay a kick back to the seminar promoter)
We’ve had this discussion before — I think conferences have their place in providing a starting point. Not an ending point, but a starting point. Since the conferences are generally held in country it’s a chance for someone to get boots on the ground while learning more about the country and what they should be looking for. If the conference is any good, and I believe some are, it will also show them what they should look out for. Not every conference promoter relies on sugar coating, though some certainly do and I don’t advise them.
Lots of people need at least that much before they’re ready to either go exploring on their own or join a tour like the ones you provide. When I first came to Panama I started with a conference, then visited some of the parts of the country that interested me.