There are many reasons to move away from the U.S. during your retirement years. One of the most important is that your money will buy you more. Another big reason is inexpensive health care and affordable prescription drugs.
The laws of various countries should influence those planning on living there as some penalize the wealthy and others make it difficult for those that are not wealthy.
Other important factors to consider are the crime rate, the distance from your home in the U.S. if you plan to return often to visit friends and family and, of course, the lifestyle you are seeking.
List what is important to you as this should influence your decision:
- Climate: Hot, cold, temperate; do you want a beach or mountains or both?
- The arts: Museums, opera, symphony, ballet, theater.
- Sports: Do you wish to play golf, tennis, ski, run, bike and do you wish to be able to watch professional or amateur sporting events?
- Healthcare: Do you have medical problems that require you be near a hospital that can provide quality care? Do you need prescription drugs regularly?
- Cost of living: What can you afford to pay for your monthly comfort? What kind of lifestyle do you plan? Luxurious, Simple, Moderate?
- Language: Are you comfortable in a country where English is not the native language and perhaps is not spoken or understood by many of the natives?
- Can I bring my pet with me? Some countries have long quarantine times and some simply do not allow you to bring your pet with you.
Below we cover some of the possible destinations that meet some or several of these criteria, but we urge you to do substantial research as well as spend time in the location you think you wish to retire to prior to your actual move. Every country has its pluses as well as its minuses.
Many U.S. Citizens are retiring to Central and South America. Housing as well as the cost of living is usually substantially less than in the states. Costa Rica is one of the countries that has a large contingent of retirees. Costa Rica allows U.S. citizens registered under its pension system to pay into the country's social-security system. Less than $40 a month qualifies you for full hospitalization and pharmacy coverage.
Many retirees in Costa Rica use the local public-health administration as a backup for emergency care and rely on private clinics for most of their care. The immigration office is difficult, and many have reported it is next to impossible to get a landline phone in a reasonable time. Costa Rica, however has its share of violent crime and, as Forbes reported in a recent article; it also has it share of land title scams.
Land scams are prevalent in many countries where Americans plan their retirement. In Mexico's Baja peninsula a few years ago, many U.S. retirees learned that deeds on their beachfront property were not valid as they did not meet certain provisions of a national-security statute that permits only citizens to own land on Mexico's coasts
Millions of Americans have retired to Mexico but depending on where you live the crime rate has risen to dangerous levels and some retirees have been forced to hire bodyguards for protection.
Belize, Panama, Honduras and Nicaragua also have a good sized population of U.S. retirees and they actively court American retirees by offering tax-free status to anyone willing to buy or build a house there.
Moving to Brazil is great choice as it is relatively inexpensive and has much to offer with regard to climate and amenities but Brazil's murder rate is four times that of the U.S.
Excellent an inexpensive health care is available in France. Insurance companies there are prohibited by law from dropping you or raising your premiums. Thailand also has good quality and affordable hospitals and Thailand's "O" visa is available to any American retiree with at least $24,000 in the bank and a minimum of $1,935 in monthly income.
Australia is a particularly good choice for many Americans as it is relatively inexpensive, English is the native language and it offers most of the amenities retirees are seeking; however Australia’s "investment retirement visa" requires that an immigrant have at least $56,000 in annual income ($43,000 if you settle in a rural area) and you must be prepared to invest a minimum of $650,000 locally ($430,000 in a rural location).
If you are wealthy you might consider New Zealand, Switzerland or Singapore. Their policies and laws work well if you have money and the same can be said for Great Britain.
Sites to help you:
internationalliving.com free information on health care, crime etc/ for 80 countries
expatexhange.com connects you with expats in 120 countries so you can ask them questions
IRS.gov provides you with the tax implications (click the international taxpayers section).
xpatulator.com helps you calculate how far your money will go in 300+ countires
Why consider retiring in Asia
Visa requirements, etc. Check out by clicking here
Best cities to retire in Asia
Travel insurance for expats living abroad
Lots of retirees are retiring abroad, where housing and the cost of living is substantially reduced and their savings can go farther. Depending on the country, however, you may or may not have access to local health care without bringing your own coverage with you.
Do your research, but if your target retirement destination requires you to have medical coverage (and many do), you can get long-term travel medical plans that are renewable.
With your travel medical coverage in hand, you’ll know you can pay for the medical care you receive outside the borders of your home country for as long as you choose to live abroad.
A good resource for researching travel insurance and travel medical plans for seniors is Travel Insurance Review. Click here to reach this site.
5 Best Places to Live Abroad
According to Barry Golson, author of Retirement Without Borders
as seen in AARP The Magazine
Puerto Vallarta Region
Climate-Winters are sunny and pleasantly warm. Summers are rainy, humid & hot.
Expat community is estimated at 50,000 with many Canadians
Cost of living: You can live comfortably on less than $1000 a month.
Housing costs: Mid-price range for condos and houses is $200,000. Year-round rentals start at $800 a month
Health care: Good hospitals and basic care clinics.
Culture and leisure: Fiestas, surfing, jungle tours and an impressive arts scene.
Access to the U.S.: Excellent with non-stops from Puerto Vallarta to the East & West coasts.
Climate is Mediterranean—hot and dry summers and cool winters.
Expat community is a mix of British, Dutch, Germans with fewer Americans.
Cost of living: Averages about $30,000 a year
Housing costs: Modest apartments start at $1,200 mo rental. Mid price housing $250,000
Culture and leisure: Museums, festivals, hiking, swimming, excellent markets, day trips to places like Carcassonne.
Access to the U.S. is fair. Local airports connect to European cities.
Health care services are excellent. Click this link to read about the care a U.S. stroke victim received.
Climate is temperate with two different seasons (wet April to Nov.) and (dry Dec. to March) Temperature is much cooler and more comfortable than the lowlands and beaches.
Expat community has several thousand
Cost of living: You can live comfortably on $20,000 a year
Housing costs: A small house goes for $175,000 Rental $600 a month for 2 bedroom h ouse.
Health care is good with private clinics available and major hospitals in Panama City 45 minutes away.
Culture and leisure: Rain forest hiking, river rafting, birding, coffee plantations.
Access to the U.S. is a one hour flight to Panama City and 3 hour flight to Miami.
Climate is temperate with warm to hot summers and pleasant winters
Expat community an international mix.
Cost of living: Comfortable life can be had at $25,000 a year
Housing costs: a nice home starts at $250,000. Rents start at $1000 a month.
Health care is good
Culture and leisure includes castles, museums, music festivals and English language theatre. Also Golf, and outdoor activities.
Access to the U.S. Excellent with direct flights from Lisbon.
Le Marche area
Climate is mostly sunny in the summer and cool in the winter.
Expat community a small international mix.
Cost of living: a comfortable life can be had for $20,000 a year.
Housing costs: Rentals start at $600 a month on rural villages and $1500 on the coast. Costal houses start at $300,000 and only $150,000 inland
Access to the U.S. is only fair. Regional flights from Ancona to Milan and then to U.S.
We have added Costa Rico
Many retirees in Costa Rico use the local public-health administration as a backup
for emergency care and rely on private clinics for most of their care. The immigration
office is difficult, and many have reported it is next to impossible to get a landline
phone in a reasonable time. Costa Rico, however has its share of violent crime
and, as Forbes reported (Oct. 22, 2008), it also has it share of land title scams.
If you are looking for a retirement destination with warm weather, a country with a stable
democracy friendly to Americans which is a short plane from the U.S., has good and
affordable health care, has clean beaches and affordable housing with a cost of living
at least 50% lower than in the U.S. Costa Rico is your place.
Retirees may apply for residency with proof that they receive a monthly income of at
least $1,000 from Social Security or a pension or retirement fund.
Housing prices are reasonable by U.S. standards. You can purchase a decent two-bedroom
home on about an acre of land for between $100,000 and $300,000.
There are two health-insurance systems: a public-sector plan (similar to health-maintenance
organizations in the U.S.) and a more comprehensive private plan (about $1,500 annually).
Both cover doctor visits, prescription drugs and hospital care.
FORBES has created a list of ten top countries for Americans retiring abroad.They considered costs, safety, medical care, ease of obtaining a visa, political stability, public transportation and availability of flights home. Their winners: Austria, Thailand, Italy, Panama, Ireland, Australia, France, Malaysia, Spain and Canada.
Other retirement destinations outside of the U.S. where Americans could retire up to 10 years earlier and with a higher standard of living than in the U.S., according to International Living.
If you click here you can see a chart comparing each of these destinations ranked according to Real Estate, Special Benefits, Cost of Living, E&A, Healthcare, Infrastructure, and Climate.
World's Most Affordable Cities
with respect to cost of living only. Click here