Reasons To Retire To A Foreign Country

Maybe you’ve always seen yourself running out the clock in Scottsdale or Miami, but if you want to make your retirement dollar stretch, you may want to expand your horizons. Some foreign countries cater to retirees with friendly tax rates and low cost of living, making them attractive alternatives to American retirement havens.

GoBankingRates says some countries, such as Portugal, offer 10-year income tax exemptions for foreigners moving to the country, drawing in retirees who would like to start a second career.

Developing countries such as Ecuador and Thailand offer obscenely low overhead, letting modest retirement budgets buy more luxury. The post also suggests the possibility of an early retirement, speaking to a world traveler who hops the globe on volunteer assignments and house-sitting gigs while bringing in money via freelance writing.

Save Money by Retiring Abroad: How to Retire Overseas for Less [GoBankingRates]


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  1. sir_eccles says:

    Don’t forget to get the right visa.

  2. Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

    I always wondered about this… What would happen to you if you budgeted a retirement based on a country being poor, but it goes through a huge economic boom for 10 years and suddenly your budget falls extremely short?

    • Murph1908 says:

      Sell your house for a huge profit and move.

    • Marlin says:

      Move to another cheap country?

      One boom is anothers bust.

      • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

        I guess… It just seems like it would be difficult to uproot and move when you’re 70 or something. Unless you lived a life of seclusion and had no connection to anyone you lived near…

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          It is but it happens all the time in the USA. Even with various Homestead Exemptions, the elderly are often forced to sell their homes and move because of property taxes. My grandmother just recently moved because the rent for her cheap apartment has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

          My other grandmother will likely have to move soon too because crime is getting so out of hand in her neighborhood.

  3. BelleSade says:

    And how would visas work? Most visas are either for family based or work based, not retirement in the country based. Unless of course you have a lot of money so any country would take you based on that alone.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      It may not be their official policy, but I was told I would be welcome to spend money in Canada until the day I dropped dead.

      • RandomHookup says:

        It’s pretty much the same for Canadians who come here. There’s no time limit on their being in the country and as long as they don’t try to work, no one really cares.

        • cowboyesfan says:

          if they stay more than 7 months, I think they lose thier socialized medicine.

          • RandomHookup says:

            I’m hoping to find some poor country where I can marry a gorgeous young lady who is dying to get a Green Card. I’ll die happy and she can come to the US with my money after I’m gone. In fact, that may be what kills me.

    • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

      That’s usually how it works. Most countries will bend over backwards to get rich people to live there. For recent examples, when France and the UK increased the wealth tax, they lost billions in capital flight to lower tax locations. It’s not hard to go to a lower tax country these days (when you’re rich).

    • RandomHookup says:

      I’m guessing most people who do this go to poorer countries where there are no real controls or to a place where they can qualify to stay without a visa. Just like Canadians have no time limits on their visas (more a technical term than an actual document) to stay in the US [as long as they don’t try to work]), you’ll probably find a US citizen can go places for a long time with no requests to leave (especially if you bring money).

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Most countries will grant permanent visas to retirees. They welcome people coming into their country and spending money. What they don’t like are people coming in and taking jobs away from their citizens.

    • thomwithanh says:

      Many countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, many EU nations) have a retirement visa – essentially a permanent residency visa without work privileges or a path to citizenship

  4. Wonderweasel says:

    This is why I plan on retiring to the moon

    • Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

      Can I go with you ? Oh wait, is it the dark side or the light side ?

      • j2.718ff says:

        You do realize that the “dark” and “light” sides change each day (in this case, we’re talking about a lunar day, which is roughly 27 earth days long), right.

        The moon does have the interesting trait of having one side always facing the earth, though. You’ll probably want to be on the earth-facing side, as there’ll be a better chance of beaming signals to/from the earth from there.

    • Invader Zim says:

      There are no coffee shops on the moon

    • Happy Dad says:

      What’s really sad is that it will be a cold day in hell before we reach a point technologically where we can live on the moon. We’re barely able to get off the earth wait is. Heck we’re relying on the Russians to supply the ISS.

  5. RandomHookup says:

    #1) Lack of an extradition treaty

  6. Cat says:

    I’ve said it before…

    I had always planned to retire to a third world country.
    With the way things are going in the USA, now I won’t even have to move!

    • tbax929 says:

      With the way things are going in the USA, you’re already living in one.

      • Egat says:

        I know this was hyperbole, but it’s so far out there, I’m making this comment anyway.

        Things are bad here, relative to previous periods of prosperity, but a third world country? Not even close. Go visit a real third world country and realize how good you still have it.

        • Buckus says:

          That’s one of the top ten stupidest things overheard while discussing Occupy Wall Street!

          We may not be a 3rd-world country yet, but certain elements of our country have been devolving that way for decades: education, infrastructure, public services, to name a few. Note, I said devolving…not quite 3rd-world yet.

          • Cat says:

            …not quite 3rd-world yet.

            Exactly. But we’re on course. And when we get there, what country will send us foreign aid?


        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          The poverty of Appalachia or the slums in abandoned neighborhoods and cities of the northeast and mid-west are pretty comparable to much of the 3rd world. There are many 3rd world nations that don’t nearly the level of violence that is the norm here.

          I live in West Virginia and the conditions in some of the neighborhoods in my city (Huntington) are truly horrific. Venture out into the coal fields of W Va or Kentucky and the situation is even worse.

          • xredgambit says:

            Yeah huntington is pretty bad. Even though amazon JUST NOW put in their call center. They said they wanted to build something over 10 years ago (I was still in high school when it was anounced). My wife wants to move back there, but I am luck and have a good job where I am at. I know I won’t find something there as good.

        • jake.valentine says:

          Try visitng North Philly and then tell me we don’t have areas in this country that are third world. Driving through that part of Philly after sunset reminds me of Escape from New York or Blade Runner. I get the gist of your comment, but we do have some third world areas here in the US. Meanwhile, so many Americans assume China is third world and have no idea that their cities are far nicer than most of our cities. Even in the countryside it is improving at light-speed while our rural areas countinue to decay.

          • wackydan says:

            Try spending time in the Dominican Republic… And not the palm trees and beaches part…and north philly will look like a top notch place.

            As bad as some areas are here… Nothing compares to how bad it is in the 3rd world.

      • Cat says:

        I believe that was my point.

  7. valkyrievf2x says:

    My dad (native of Colombia) retired to Panama. As he put it, lots of the same charm from the homeland, with a better rate of return, lol. Apparently there are LOTS of Americans down there, so finding quality medical services and merchandise is not an issue. The few times he went to the doctor, it cost him $20. Flat out 20, not a 20 copay. So, other than the heat, seems like a good place to go.

    • dualview says:

      Why didn’t he stay in Colombia? Like in the coffee district area. Nice weather and people and relatively inexpensive. Just curious.

  8. CosmosHuman says:

    My dreams are to retire in Israel.

  9. CosmosHuman says:

    My second choice would be Costa Rico.

  10. lancemc says:


    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Is significantly cheaper in Latin America.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Referring to cost, quality, or both?

        • Cat says:

          Cost, cheaper. Quality, in some countries, nearly the same. You can also buy insurance in many countries pretty cheaply.

          Question: Where does your doctor come from? Most of the younger doctors I see were not born in the USA.

          One thing to keep in mind: ALWAYS have enough money easily accessible (credit card is best) to pay for a quick trip to the USA for medical care.

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            I think the key is either you accept the trade off that any medical care will be done by a GP and completely out-of-pocket, or you must be willing to fly back to the US for any major surgeries and have Medicare pay for it.

            Paying for care out-of-pocket in most of the world is not nearly as scary as it is here.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          The cost is significantly cheaper and quality is usually on par, though without access to the same level of diagnostic equipment. In Latin America, many of these ex-pat retirement communities are essentially compounds made up entirely of westerners.

          If/when my wife and I retire, we’ll likely do so in either Poland or Hungary, simply because the cost of living is so much lower. I’m still close to my cousins, so we’ll at least have some family around.

    • Moongirl55 says:

      Yeah, that’s the issue. Medicare doesn’t cover care out of the country. If you are relatively healthy, you can pay out of pocket. But if you develop a major medical issue, you are screwed.

      Also: You never need the support of family and longtime friends more than when you get old. Moving half a world away, where you will be surrounded by people you don’t know and probably don’t even speak your language, does not sound like a plan to me.

  11. JennQPublic says:

    The problem with this is that eventually you get older and more infirm, and then terminally ill and then you die. Most people want to go through this (sometimes years-long) process in their home, where they feel most comfortable. But now your home is in a different country than where your kids live, so they will try to get you to move back to the states so they can care for you while still maintaining their own lives (and old people never want to give up their homes or perceived independence), or they will have to put their lives, jobs, kids, and mortgages on hold to travel to come take care of you.

    It’s morbid, yeah, but it’s where we all end up, and practicalities should be taken into account…

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      That’s not much different than retiring in Arizona or Florida. It just involves a longer flight.

      • JennQPublic says:

        A much longer flight that is several times more expensive, passports, visas, longer trip-times (to make the increased flight costs worth it), dealing with an unfamiliar medical care system in an unfamiliar country that is potentially administered in a different language, with no moral support from spouse or siblings because you could only afford for one person to fly out there.

        If your parents were sick in the Phillipines, versus sick in Scottsdale, do you honestly think it would be just as easy for you to take care of them? (And yes I know English is common there.)

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          I’m thinking more along the lines of Costa Rica, Belize, or Honduras. Or in the case of Europe, Poland, Slovakia, or Hungary. Obviously, it would require some sacrifices and definitely planning but the complexity really isn’t too far out there.

          Expecting to just show up in a foreign country, with no planning, no language skills, and no backup plans is just asking for failure.

          My father currently lives in Poland and does have some medical issues but overall, our relationship isn’t much different than when he lived an 14-hour drive away. If he developed, a drawn medical issues or signs of dementia, then the living arrangements would have to be reevaluated. It would be the same thing if he lived in Florida.

          • JennQPublic says:

            “Expecting to just show up in a foreign country, with no planning, no language skills, and no backup plans is just asking for failure.”

            And while the parents may have prepared for life in a different country, language, and culture, chances are good their kids didn’t, and if the parent is incapacitated, it’s their kids who have to make the decisions. It’s a lot to lay on you, to expect you to learn Polish and understand how their system works. And it’s a helluva a lot more expensive to get to Poland than Florida.

            As you said, someday, your living arrangements will have to be re-evaluated. When they are, your (by then quite elderly) father may well be unwilling to move from his home. Maybe not, everyone is different, but in working with seniors, I’ve seen time and again the struggles adult children go through to see their parents are happy and properly taken care of. And I understand old people who don’t want to leave their homes. It’s a tough situation for everyone involved, and I think end-of-life plans and their impact on your kids are worth considering when determining what country to spend one’s latter years in.

    • Earl Butz says:

      I don’t and can’t have kids, so it doesn’t matter then, does it?

      • JennQPublic says:

        If you also don’t have close younger relatives (one of my friends doesn’t want kids, so she’s sucking up to her niece), and you are going to rely on friends, then just get to your destination early enough in life that you can form solid friendships before you get to that point.

    • Geekybiker says:

      That’s why they just need suicide booths.

  12. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    It’s also great for escaping one’s nefarious criminal past.

  13. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Sadly, the foreign coutries I want to retire to have a higher cost of living than the U.S., when compared to the current exchange rate.

  14. jaybee says:

    AFAIK as an American citizen, you’re still required to file income tax returns irrespective of your country of residence. Most sensible countries have reciprocal tax agreements. The USA doesn’t appear to be one. Sensible, that is…

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      I lived overseas for six years and I filed a tax return with the IRS every year that I lived abroad. It was extremely easy and very straightforward, and the IRS peeps on the phone are actually very helpful with questions that you might have. There is also an exemption for income earned overseas and I never went over that limit (it’s in the $80k range at the moment), so basically my tax return was a 1040 plus a 2555 with everything stated then zeroed out because it was exempted. It’s not as big a deal as people think it is…unless you have a high income…and I don’t know what would happen under that circumstance. Never had to cross that bridge.

      • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

        You’re exempt up to about $93K now. It’s awesome!

  15. RosevilleWgn says:

    Retire? I’d rather move to Norway or Sweden now, while I’m in my prime.

  16. Remarkable Melba Kramer says:

    My dreams are to live on a sailboat and just go from island to island……………………….

  17. FreeMarketFan says:

    I’m going to go retire in Poland. I’ll eat like a king

    • vastrightwing says:

      Better hope that Poland resists the move to the Euro. Once they convert over, the whole country is screwed. Right now they are in a good position: they have little to no debt. Converting to the Euro will take that away. They’ll sucumb to hyper inflation and then the EU will force them to subsidize the others, like Germany. I’d wait a little while to see what will happen. I feel bad for the denizens over there now. Tusk is not very popular now.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      That’s pretty much my plan too. My family has a farm about an hour outside of Krakow that is now owned by my cousins. We’d probably buy a small apartment in town and live very comfortably off our meager IRA.

    • Dr.Wang says:

      Nothing beats Polish ethnic cooking. I’d be happy to spend my remaining days there eating up the countryside!

  18. Bor&Mitch says:

    A longer flight, more money, and navigating foreign processes and paperwork for medical care, finances, etc. It’s a huge burden on the children, so people with kids who can *just* afford to retire to a foreign country should reconsider and think ahead to the inevitable. Unless you have wads of cash to be self-sufficient indefinitely don’t be selfish. Some people die suddenly in their retirement years but most people deteriorate and linger. My parents have put me and my siblings in just this position. They can’t really afford to move back, and we certainly can’t bring them back here without setting ourselves behind several years and causing no end of grief with our spouses.

  19. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I don’t know why I just can’t jump the border and go to Mexico and live, visa or no visa. Mexico doesn’t seem to care that its citizens move north without visas, papers, etc. so what’s the difference?


  20. dolemite says:

    My requirement is: high speed internet, and no draconian legal ratings for games/movies/etc.

  21. cspschofield says:

    Just a thought;

    I’m not sure I’d want to be a Gringo in any country poor enough that retiring there gave a real economic advantage.

  22. duncanblackthorne says:

    “Retirement”? What is this “retirement” of which you speak? I do not know this word.

  23. DariusC says:

    Nobody mentioned a lack of freedoms in other countries. Then I realized that we don’t have many here that we can exercise without retalliation of some sort. Are corporations bad in other countries? Or just America? What about the government? What about crazy groups of religious people that will kill you for having a different view?

  24. Caveat says:

    It’s not as easy as it sounds. Take Canada as an example. There is no such thing as a retirement visa. Sure you can cross the border from the US and live there indefinitely, BUT you are not eligible for the Canadian health care system coverage, you cannot get a Canadian driver license, you cannot get car insurance (since you are not licensed in Canada), you cannot get Canadian credit cards (you would have to pay extra fees if you use your US cards), and prices are higher for just about everything than in the USA.

    Yes, you can go to a poor country and live cheaply, but what happens if you get seriously sick fast? Do you trust the local medical establishment?

    • stvlong92 says:

      I’ve always wondered the same thing. I remember people saying they’d leave the country in 2008 if McCain became President. I thought, what would they do if they got into trouble in the country they went to? Could they walk into a US Embassy and ask for help? After all, didn’t they renounce their US citizenship because they didn’t like who became the new President? I’ll bet they’d all of a sudden love the new President once they got into trouble.

      Funny how that works. It’s sort of like the guys who killed someone and end up on Death Row in prison, and all of a sudden become born-again Christians.

  25. bitplayer says:

    Costa Rica lets you stay as long as you can prove $1k a month income.