6 steps to size up your overseas retirement plan

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Like many Gen-Xers, my present outlook on retirement falls somewhere between doom and gloom.

I fear a stock market collapse could decimate my investments as I near retirement – a fate that befell many retirees following the 2008 financial crisis. I'm highly skeptical that Social Security will be much help, if any, and I fret that I won't have enough money set aside to keep up with rising costs for everything from food and gas to housing.

Recently, however, I've started to consider whether retiring overseas might be a good strategy.

Moving to countries like Mexico, Ecuador and Thailand, where the cost of living can be far lower than in the U.S., can turn a modest nest egg into something more substantial.

"It's really not for everybody, but there are many places where your dollar can go a lot further abroad than it can here," says Gabrielle Redford, editorial projects manager for AARP The Magazine.

Americans have been retiring abroad for many years, some seeking a more adventurous and culturally exotic experience, others looking to save money.

It's hard to gauge how many there are, as the Census doesn't track Americans living abroad. The State Department estimates 6.3 million Americans live outside the U.S., but that only accounts for those who voluntarily report their status to U.S. embassies.

Still, many countries have established enclaves of American retirees. And the fallout from the 2007-2009 recession appears to have fueled greater interest.

"We hear anecdotally from readers that many more people are looking into these options," Redford says.

Doug Hall is such a retiree. The 61-year-old Atlanta resident retired in February and is planning on moving to Mexico City once he figures out whether to sell his house or rent it out.

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