Your Guide to Retiring Overseas

May 23, 2023

Whether your ideal retirement is spent dozing in a Costa Rican hammock or meandering the vibrant streets of Lisbon, there are endless ways to successfully retire abroad. Here’s how to transform your international retirement dream into reality.

In our guide to retiring overseas, you’ll find:

  • Why you should consider retiring overseas
  • How to choose your retirement location: 
    • Dream up your retirement vision
    • 5 practical considerations before retiring abroad
  • Connection to a support team that will align your finances with your retirement goals

Why you should consider retiring overseas

Resettling overseas offers a special opportunity to reimagine your life. Can you picture yourself enjoying the quiet beaches and lively cafe culture of southern Italy? What about the diverse landscape and unique gastronomy of Peru? Enrich your retirement years by opening yourself to the possibility of an international adventure!

Moving abroad can also stretch the value of your retirement savings. As the cost of retirement has increased in the United States, so has the number of Americans choosing to retire abroad. Americans choosing to live in places with lower costs of living will find that their dollar stretches further, offering a greater sense of freedom.  

Choose your retirement location

Plans to move abroad are most effective when they incorporate both practical considerations and daydreams. Daydreaming shows us how we actually want to spend our time. Practical considerations prevent our dreams from turning into nightmares. After all, what good is a beachside cabana if you don’t have access to decent medical care? 

Dream up your retirement vision

Begin exploring your retirement’s potential by imagining the places where you could feel at home. Ask yourself: 

  • What defines these special places? 
  • What does the environment look and feel like? 
  • What role do people and social activities play? 

Examining how specific characteristics do or do not contribute to your vision can help you understand what is most important for your retirement lifestyle. These characteristics may include:

  • Your Retirement Atmosphere
    • Climate
    • Environment
    • Customs and culture
    • Cuisine and diet
    • Access to activities 
  • Your Retirement Community
    • Presence of an expat community
    • Presence of a local community
    • Community spaces
    • Language

Still not sure where to start? Scan this list of best places to retire in 2023 or surprise yourself by spinning the Earth Roulette to get the ideas flowing.  

5 practical considerations before retiring abroad

Here is where the rubber hits the road. Evaluate these 5 variables so that you can step on the gas and get moving toward your ideal retirement:

1. Visas or citizenship The first question you’ll need to ask about your new home is, “Can I stay here for a long time?” Each country has its own rules and requirements, so dig into the details and weigh your options. Here are a few paths to long-term stays that you can consider:

  1. Retirement visas for retirees who meet minimum income requirements.
  2. Golden visas for individuals who buy property, start a business, or invest in the local economy.
  3. Citizenship by descent for individuals with ancestral ties to a country with a citizenship-by-descent program. Included on the list: Italy, Lithuania, and Latvia.

2. Taxes U.S. citizens are required to file taxes, even when they live outside of the U.S. To make the most of your retirement income and avoid any unpleasant surprises, familiarize yourself with the tax rules for expats living abroad and tax implications on your retirement income

3. Healthcare – Trading in U.S. healthcare for another country’s healthcare is a major consideration for retirees. As you evaluate the best countries for expat health care, consider the quality of medical knowledge and infrastructure, prices of services, and English-language fluency of local staff.

4. Cost of living Now that you can cash in on your retirement stash, you’ll want to consider stretching the value of your dollars. For example, you may be enticed to move to a small Swiss village – until you remember that the cost of living in Switzerland is significantly higher than in the States. By contrast, countries like Panama and Portugal offer discounted living costs compared to the U.S.  

5. Incentives – Many countries offer financial incentive programs to attract newcomers. Some destinations, like Panama and Nicaragua, offer tax exemptions and discounts for retirees. Others, like Italy’s Sardinia and Greece’s Antikythera Island, are combatting population decline by offering grants to people who are willing to relocate.

The key is to find a destination that enriches your daily experience and meets basic needs like good healthcare and a reasonable cost of living. That’s the retirement jackpot.

Almost ready to go global? We’ll give you a boost.

Relocation in retirement is no small move. Finding reliable support can be the difference between fumbling into retirement and diving in with confidence. 

Reach out to Alicia and the SWM team to see how we can build your ideal retirement together. 

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