Actually, it all seems like a good plan. Shortly before retiring, an elderly couple emigrates to Mallorca. The island attracts with its good food, lots of sun and a low cost of living. Many German families also live on the island. The best conditions for pensioners to spend their final years economically and with quality of life, even with a low pension.

Almost 2,000 pensioners have already fulfilled their dream of retiring in Mallorca. But at the same time, many of them in Germany usually set up their tents. Insurance policies are cancelled, properties are sold and residences are deregistered. A big mistake, as it usually turns out later.

When fate and illness strike…

The couple moves to Spain with full suitcases and household items. They do not speak the language and the authorities also avoid them. Too complicated, too incomprehensible, not necessary. But that was a mistake, reports Roland Werner, founder of the humanitarian organization Herztat. The association takes care of older people who feel lonely on the holiday island or who want to return to Germany. Because many older people do not think about illnesses or destiny.

For example, if one partner becomes ill, the costs of hospital stays and doctor visits increase rapidly. Because many emigrants do not even think about registering in Mallorca or even taking out health insurance. They often even canceled their health insurance in Germany.

As a result, savings can be depleted quickly. If the partner also dies, the survivor is left alone, abandoned and impoverished. It is also a financial disaster, because one's own old-age pension and widow's pension are often not enough to pay the rent.

Many are ashamed of their situation. Friends and local contacts break up and those in need continue to cancel private gatherings due to money concerns because the budget simply doesn't allow for coffee or beer. Many pensioners in Mallorca experienced this situation, says Werner. “Some of them are already in an emergency situation and are literally abandoned.”

What retirees should do before emigrating

If you don't want to spend your retirement in Germany, you should start thinking about emigrating as soon as possible. How easy or complicated it is to start a new life depends mainly on the destination country. It is easier for pensioners who stay in Europe.

Retirees must obtain complete information about the country in which they want to settle. These include climate, culture, cost of living, healthcare, safety and language.

Health care is especially important

Anyone who remains in Europe can continue to contribute to statutory health insurance and is entitled to receive benefits. However, you will only receive the benefits to which local policyholders are entitled. Sometimes you have to expect worse care than in Germany. For example, in Spain patients have to cover almost all dental expenses themselves. Your own health insurance company will provide you with more detailed information. Anyone wishing to return to Germany in case of illness should take out international travel medical insurance. This covers the costs of return transportation.

FOCUS online advises: Health care is a crucial factor, especially in old age. Verify the quality and availability of medical facilities in the destination country. Migrants should check how their health insurance works abroad or whether additional foreign insurance is necessary.

If you have found a new home outside of Europe, you will need international health insurance or local insurance. This can be a cheap alternative in the Philippines, for example. If you do not rule out returning to Germany, you should take out expectation insurance. Otherwise, it could happen that your old health insurance will no longer accept you when you return.

Make sure you have an emergency plan

Even if everything is well planned, there may be situations where returning to the home country is the best or only option, whether due to serious health problems, political unrest, or family emergencies.

Older emigrants should have a clear plan for how such a return might work. This includes considerations for financing return travel, transportation of pets or personal items, and temporary accommodation in the home country. It is also advisable to organize important documents such as passports, birth certificates and medical records so that they are quickly available in case of emergency.

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