Retirement visas offer you an opportunity to make the most of your golden years. Countries across the globe offer retirees with a provable income the chance for a new life. The best places to retire abroad depend on your personal circumstances. You need to understand the retirement visa program of your chosen country clearly. As well as visa programs, there are other visa categories available, and we’ll explore those below.
The best places to retire in the world offer a combination of security, access to healthcare, low cost-of-living, and access to facilities for leisure.
Recent research has shown that on average most people are their least happy in their early fifties. Importantly, then they get rapidly happier after that. One of the reasons seems to be that impending retirement comes with some significant concerns, including:
- Will the money I have saved be enough to fund the lifestyle I want to live?
- Can I get access to the healthcare I need to live the life I want to lead?
- How will I replace the part that work has played in my life?
More and more people are answering these three questions by looking at retirement abroad. With the same research showing that happiness increases rapidly after retirement, could a different retirement strategy help you move up the curve faster?
Will I have enough money?
The considerable differences in the cost of living mean your money is worth much more in some countries. Your savings and income can go further than you can imagine.
- Moving from Miami, Florida to Boquete, Panama will effectively multiply your retirement spending power by 230%.
- A shift from Sydney, Australia to George Town, Malaysia would feel like tripling your spending power!
- Spend your money in Valletta, Malta instead of London, England and feel 153% richer.
- Your money goes more than twice as far in Cartago, Costa Rica than it would in Vancouver, Canada.
The savings in accommodation, food, entertainment, health care, domestic help and other expenses can be enormous.
- The rent on a two-bedroom flat in a mid-range suburb in Sydney, Australia? That easily pays for a beautiful beachside house in Hua Hin, Thailand.
- For the price of eating in McDonald’s in Atlanta, USA, you could have a three-course lunch with a glass of wine in Malaga, Spain.
- The cost of a cleaner for a day in London, England? That will get you a housekeeper/cook/carer for a month in Granada, Nicaragua.
Some countries also offer great financial incentives too. Take Nicaragua, for example, where the retiree benefits program includes incentives such as those below to attract retirees to their country:
- No tax on out-of-country earnings,
- You can bring in household items worth up to $20,000 duty-free
- Sales tax exemptions on items up to $50,000 when constructing a home.
A reduction in expenses with an increase in quality of life is an opportunity. Some people use this opportunity to retire earlier than they could in their home country.
What about my health care requirements?
Obviously, just having more money in your pocket doesn’t solve everything, but it is a good start. Well, what about my health you may ask. The reality is the healthcare abroad may be much better than you are used to. Many countries recognise the value of attracting funded retirees. To achieve this, they have boosted health spending. In some countries, this improvement only extends to the private health system. However, private health care is still very affordable in most cases.
Countries like Panama, Mexico and Malaysia have incredible modern hospitals at a fraction of the cost of the United States. Quality doctors are accessible when you want them and in some instances, are even available for house calls.
Spain, France and Austria have extensive health care systems that rank amongst the best in the world for access and outcomes. Moving to a new country doesn’t mean that your access to world-class health care is compromised. In fact, it can mean just the opposite!
When selecting your country to retire abroad, healthcare provider quality and choice should be important criteria.
And this lifestyle I could have?
The benefits of a physically and mentally active lifestyle are well understood. Retiring to a new country with access to fantastic climates, sea and beaches, mountains and lakes, and other attractions offer this in spades. The Global Coalition on Aging’s white paper on Healthy Aging is clear; the physical, cognitive and social benefits of travel are immense.
“By keeping us active and engaged, travel certainly promotes well-being. Indeed, the levels of correlation between travel and certain areas of health are remarkably clear.”
The apparent fact is that many popular overseas retirement destinations have a large, established retirement community. These communities mean that newcomers have access to like-minded people. And, those people are happy to share their experiences and services and activities that fit your lifestyle. It also ensures that infrastructure to service the needs of retirees is in place and viable for the long term.
The risks of retiring abroad
Retiring abroad does have pros and cons. It is a significant lifestyle change, and it is essential that you carefully consider your decision.
- You will not be close to family and friends
- You may need to learn at least some of a new language
- You’ll need to learn to navigate local ways of working
- Governments, healthcare providers, and others may work differently
- There may be different security and health risks to those of your home country
- Moving may place strain on your relationship
- Tax regimes may be different, to your benefit or cost
- Exchange rates may impact your savings, both positively and negatively
- Some international retirement hot-spots attract unscrupulous operators
How to get a retirement visa?
People are often surprised at how easy it is to qualify for a retirement visa. Many countries offer a residency (the right to live and work) based on your available income. Your retirement incomes can be from a range of sources, including your Social Security, Pension, Annuity, or income from existing investments.
Countries that use a monthly income to award the visa include: (with the approximate USD monthly amount as exchange rates do fluctuate.)
- Nicaragua – USD$ 600 (and USD$150 for each family member. You must be over 45 years of age)
- Honduras – USD$ 600
- Costa Rica – USD$ 1,000 (You need to be able to prove that this income will last for your lifetime.)
- Guatemala – USD$ 1,000
- Thailand – USD$ 2,000 (Or a deposit account of USD$ 25,000. You must be over 50 years of age.)
- Aruba – USD$ 2,300 (You need to be over 55 years of age)
- Malaysia – USD$ 2,500 (You need to be over 50 and show approx USD$ 83,000 in assets)
- Spain– USD$ 2,600 (For additional family members you need an additional USD$ 650 each)
- Vanuatu – USD$ 2,800 (You need to transfer this amount to a commercial bank in Vanuatu)
- United Kingdom – USD$ 2,900 (You must be over 60 and have an existing connection to the UK)
Click on the country name for more information.
Panama’s Retirement Visa operates slightly differently. You are required to deposit a minimum of USD$ 170,000 into a 5-year fixed-term deposit with the National Bank of Panama. This investment will generate around USD$ 750 a month of income. Click here for more information.
Other visas available to retire abroad
We have discussed specific retirement visas above. But, just because your dream destination does not offer a visa explicitly aimed at people who want to retire overseas, don’t give up. Several other visa programs can work for retirement abroad.
Check out our blog on Passive Income Visas for more details of these programs. There is a range of opportunities as long as you can show that you have a steady income that will cover your living expenses. These visa programs can offer residency, permanent residency, citizenship, and a passport.
Look for visa program like:
- Passive Income Visa
- Income Visa
- Person of Independent Means Visa
- Non-lucrative Visa
- Elective Residency Visa
- Rentista Visa
There are many, many countries covered by these options for you consider as your overseas retirement destination.
Is Retirement Abroad for me?
An overseas retirement is not for everyone. However, this is a group that is multiplying with numbers from the United States up an estimated 17% from 2000 to 2015. Drivers include cheap airfares for family visits and tools like Skype and Facebook to stay connected. Retiring abroad can offer fantastic health care, low cost of living and vibrant and engaged communities all around the world. These factors mean this trend is only going to increase.
When you are exploring your retirement visa options, there can be complications. Using a trusted local partner can make sense for your peace of mind. Although there is a cost involved, getting the best visa program and a successful application make this worthwhile.
A change of this nature is certainly not for everyone. But, you may want to tickle your sense of adventure in your golden years. Retirement abroad allows you to stretch your horizons and your retirement savings. And, if these things appeal to you, then exploring retiring abroad may be just the thing for your next phase of life.