When Dwight Stanford retired from his 25-year career as a surgeon in Kansas City, Mo., he headed to Italy, more specifically a hilltop town named Offida. It wasn't on a whim. In 2006, he'd fallen hard for the Italian way of life after earning a master's degree in food science during a sabbatical there.
Today, the 59-year-old co-owns and operates a B&B in a 500-year-old farmhouse, as well as the Paolini & Stanford Winery, which produces 25,000 bottles of organic wine a year. On any given day, he might be out driving a tractor or preparing breakfast for B&B guests with the help of his fiancée, Maryse Pen. And just recently, he's able to pay himself a small salary.
For many people, his story may seem like fantasy. But retiring abroad and continuing to earn a paycheck has in fact become increasingly common.
While the precise number of Americans working overseas is hard to nail down, over half a million people receive Social Security benefits in foreign countries, according to the Social Security Administration. And that doesn't count boomers like Stanford who aren't yet entitled to Social Security or have delayed taking it.
If working in a foreign land sounds appealing to you, here are some steps that can help make it happen.
1. Do your research. International Living magazine publishes an annual global retirement index that ranks the World's Best Places to Retire. For this year's 23 countries, which include Panama, Ecuador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain and Portugal, its researchers crunched numbers on the cost of living, health care, housing, internet access, infrastructure factors such as international airports and, of course, weather.