If you’ve been exploring your options for where to retire, you may be considering heading overseas. Drawn by low costs of living, inexpensive healthcare, and a laid back lifestyle, a growing number of retirees are choosing to retire abroad.
When choosing your destination, you’ll want to consider the weather, cost of living, quality and affordability of healthcare, level of friendliness towards Americans and incidence of crime. However, deciding to retire abroad also has its own set of challenges.
Before you hop on a plane to retire abroad, here are some other factors to consider:
- Will you need to obtain a visa? Some countries have specific residency requirements, like Panama’s Retirement Visa, which requires that seniors receive a regular income of $1,000 per month in order to qualify. (Learn more about visa requirements on the Department of State’s website).
- If you’re moving somewhere far away, how easy or difficult will it be for you to visit kids and grandkids back in the US?
- How will relocating affect your banking, assets, and investments? Are you prepared to navigate the tax filing process yourself, or hire a professional to help?
- Does the country have a national health system that will cover you? Will you need to buy international health insurance? Medicare may provide limited to no coverage depending on your location.
- Do you have specific medical needs that are best met in the US? Some countries may have great basic healthcare, but may not have easy access to certain drugs or procedures.
- Are you prepared to learn another language and live in a culture where you may be considered an outsider?
- Will you be able to buy property? Many countries have laws governing property ownership by foreigners. In Mexico, expats must go through a bank trust if they want to purchase property within 62 miles of a border or within 31 miles of a coastline.
Retiring abroad may involve a lot of details and red tape, but most retirees feel the initial hassle is worth it for the amazing benefits. Now that we’ve covered some of the nitty-gritty, let’s move on to the fun stuff! Here are our top eight picks for the best countries to retire to.
This welcoming Central American country may be the most popular haven for those who wish to retire abroad. Besides proximity to the US and fabulous beaches, Panama’s Pensionado visa program provides major discounts for retirees on entertainment, travel costs, dining, medical services, and utility bills.
A retirement favorite, this Central American nation boasts stunning national parks, beautiful beaches and lush tropical rain forests. You can also enjoy urban amenities such as excellent shopping, museums and fine dining. With fabulous weather, low cost of living, great healthcare and a stable democracy, Costa Rica is worth a look!
The tiny island of Malta is home to year-round sunshine and a wealth of cultural and historic attractions. Enjoy its lively festivals, visit the nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, play golf at the Royal Malta Golf Club, and go sailing and snorkeling to your heart’s content. World-class healthcare and an English-speaking population make this gorgeous Mediterranean island a top choice.
This diverse melting pot of cultures (with many English-speaking expats) boasts a robust economy, thrifty cost of living, fantastic cuisine and some of the best healthcare in the region. Pristine beaches, rich jungles and bustling urban centers make this Southeast Asian country the perfect spot for your retirement adventure.
Whether you love medieval castles, trendy city life, playing golf year-round or relaxing at beautiful beach resorts, Portugal has got your number. The perfect blend of First World amenities and Old World charm, this country prides itself on its warm hospitality and relaxed pace of life.
Due to its proximity to the US, Mexico has a strong expat community and has long been a favorite of retirees. With modern amenities, low prices, and plenty of outdoors activities and historic sites, Mexico has much to offer. Although crime is a concern in many cities along the U.S. border, the majority of the country is very safe.
This exotic Southeast Asian country has a rich history and architecture, amazing cuisine and friendly locals. Connect with other expats as you explore the white sand beaches, stunning mountains and ancient temples. Affordable medical care and a rock-bottom cost of living make Thailand an attractive choice for your retirement.
Though not as cost-effective as less developed countries, Spain is a steal if you’re looking to settle in Europe. From sunny beaches to snow-capped mountains, picturesque villages to sophisticated cities, there are plenty of outdoors and cultural experience to enjoy. Other perks include zero sales tax, low property tax and extremely low housing prices.
We want to hear from you! What are your top picks for where to retire abroad? Let us know in the comments below.
To plan your visit to any one of these countries you might one day call home, go to AAA.com/Travel.