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Could you earn an income overseas to support or supplement the cost of living there in retirement? Absolutely. You have two options: get a job or start a business. Either  can be a reasonable, realistic goal, depending on where you want to retire and the kind of life you want to lead in retirement.

Start by taking personal stock. What's important to you? What do you like to do? How could you convert your interests and hobbies into an income stream? Take stock of your skills, too. What languages do you speak? What experience and training do you have?

Here are five strategies for generating an income to support your retirement, wherever in the world you want to retire:

Strategy 1: Arrange a posting in another country through your current employer. This is how friends David and Anna organized their retirement in Costa Rica. They both worked for Dell in other countries and requested the chance to continue working for Dell in San José. Obviously, this works only if you're working for an international organization with an office in the place where you want to relocate. For David and Anna, their reposting to Costa Rica was the perfect segue into the overseas retirement they both wanted.

Strategy 2: Set yourself up as a local consultant. What business do you know? Where in the world might your experience and expertise have value? I know one retiree who had been in the swimming pool business in Miami his entire career. Steven’s search for his ideal retirement haven took him to Roatán, in the Bay Islands of Honduras. There, he discovered plenty of people interested in swimming pools, but the local talent for building to standards typical in the United States was limited. Steven was able to parlay his decades of experience into a retirement income that allowed him to afford the Caribbean retirement he wanted.

Strategy 3: Set yourself up as an international consultant. If you're an accountant, attorney or money adviser, you could make a great living helping expats and retirees abroad structure and manage their financial lives in paradise. If you have experience in marketing or Internet development, you’ll find worldwide opportunities for consulting with those businesses. All you need is a computer and an Internet connection.

Strategy 4: Take a position teaching English as a foreign language. This is one of the most common ways to earn income in countries where the language isn’t English. Often, you can work as little or as much as you’d like, making this an ideal option for retirees.

Strategy 5: Cultivate a trade you could practice anywhere. This may be your best option. It can work for anyone, and it's highly portable. I'm a laptop-carrying, daily-letter-producing poster girl for the best mobile trade I know: travel writing. I have at least two dozen good friends who are currently paying for or supplementing the costs of their lives overseas as professional travel writers. And every day I communicate with writers (and writers-in-training) in interesting places who are eager to write about their experiences.

You don't always need formal training as a writer. You do need an open mind, open eyes, a curiosity about the world around you and a penchant for telling stories, though. If those things describe you, you could earn an income as a travel writer even if you've never done it before. One of the most successful and prolific travel writers I know started her professional life as a barmaid. Others have been homemakers, engineers, investment advisers and even accountants.

One of the many benefits of cultivating this kind of portable profession is that it means the resulting income will be on an international scale. If you take a job or set yourself up as a local consultant in a foreign country, you'll be paid like a local and in the local currency. This could be a plus or a minus, but be aware that it does introduce risks. A professional who might earn $60,000 in the U.S., for example, might earn one-third of that in Panama or Colombia and be considered well-paid. But remember, of course, that the local cost of living will be less.

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