So, you’re about to retire and you want to move to another country? This may sound like a great idea in the grand scheme of things, but, you want to do your research! Check out my post on why I’m not waiting to collect social security. Questions to ask yourself: What type of environment do I want to live in? Is this a long term move or temporary? What will it cost me? Is the area friendly to my age group? What will I do when I move to my new country? These are just a few questions you need to know about retiring overseas.
What environment do you want? Do you want to live at the beach when you retire? Or in the mountains? Do you want to live in a sprawling countryside or the hustle of a city? There are many types of living environments to choose from when making the choice in retiring overseas. Plan to choose where you’re going to be the happiest. I assume you’re not moving just to sit in your home and say “I live in Rome” when people ask you where you live. You want to enjoy your retirement years! For myself? I don’t want the hustle and bustle of a city. I want a smaller town where people care about their community.
What is the cost? If you’re going to move someplace, you need to be able to afford it. Per Expatisan, the Cayman Islands are the most expensive to live in, where Egypt is the cheapest. As a comparison, the United States is the 20th most expensive country to live in, out of 109 countries on this list. The Cayman Islands are lovely! I’ve been there and would love to go back! But I wouldn’t live there. Unless they allow you to live on the beach so you don’t have housing costs!
The top 10 most expensive cities for expatriates to live in is (Cities, not countries!):
10 – Beijing, China
9 – Switzerland – Bern
8 – Shanghai, China
7 – Geneva, Switzerland
6 – Seoul, South Korea
5 – Singapore
4 – Zurich, Switzerland
3 – Tokyo, Japan
2 – Hong Kong
1 – Luanda, Angola
The top 10 best places to retire to in 2017:
10 – Georgetown, Malaysia
9 – San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
8 – Budapest, Hungary
7 – Lisbon, Portugal
6 – Kuala Lampur, Malaysia
5 – Saint-Chinian, France
4 – Abruzzo, Italy
3 – Mazatlan, Mexico
2 – Valleta, Malta
1 – Portugal’s Algarve Region
There are many places that could have made this list, but using CNBC’s list, these were the best!
Are you thinking to make the move permanent? Or is it temporary? This is important to ask yourself this when retiring overseas, for one main reason… As a U.S. Citizen, if you live overseas, you have to still pay U.S. taxes as well as taxes in the country you retire to. Yes, the IRS will STILL get their money. The United States is one of only two countries that does this. (The other being Eritrea) You can get a credit, but in my research, I’ve found that it’s a pain to do that. There are ways to reduce your tax liability, one of them include watching your time in the U.S. You must spend a minimum of 330 days in a foreign country to reduce tax liability and to renounce your citizenship. In 2016, 5411 U.S. Citizens renounced their citizenship. This is up from less than 1,000 in 2010!
If you choose to renounce your U.S. Citizenship, there are still tax liabilities, but, if you retire, you CAN still claim your Social Security benefits. You do not have to be a U.S. Citizen to do that. You put money into it, so you are still eligible. To avoid paying taxes on your Social Security benefits, you must live in the following countries:
- United Kingdom
If you move to Cuba or North Korea, you cannot receive your Social Security benefits, but if you can get to a country that your benefits can be sent, you can do it that way. However, your checks will still be held until you move to a country that you can get your benefits. If you live in Cambodia, Vietnam, or areas that were parts of the former Soviet Union (other than Armenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia) you cannot have checks sent to you. But, you may be able to receive checks under certain conditions. One of them being to appear in person at the U.S. embassy each month, to receive benefits.
It boils down to, renouncing your U.S. Citizenship should NOT be taken lightly if you go that route. Once done, it is irrevocable. You must consider the consequences to you and your family. I do want to live in a different country for a few years as some point down the line, just to have that cultural experience, but, even as dysfunctional as my family can be, I love them to pieces and I wouldn’t want to stay away forever.
For retiree’s the top five countries to retire to are:
Mexico – Even with crime in certain states of Mexico, (Travel Warning) there are plenty of locations that are quite safe. People are retiring there to enjoy a lower cost of living, great weather and a wonderful cultural experience. If you want to apply for dual citizenship, you need to live there for five years.
Panama – If you are living on a pension, or social security, Panama affords those thinking of retiring overseas a lower cost lifestyle while not sacrificing their proximity to the states. Panama offers retirees the option of residency with the Pensionado identity card. It doesn’t guarantee citizenship as that is geared more to investors and entrepreneurs with other visa options to get on the road to citizenship. But, as long as you can prove you have a lifetime of pensions that you are paid for, you can qualify for the Pensionado identity card.
Ecuador – With it’s stable year round weather and its range of altitudes (Amazon Basin to the Andes Mountains) Ecuador is a desirable location to live. And it meets the many different environments you could want to live in! Small towns to sprawling cities to beach resorts. It’s a win-win!
Costa Rica – Costa Rica is another option for retiring overseas, with many lifestyles to choose from and things to see. Whitewater rafting, hiking and it’s own volcano. Although, not sure that last one is a great selling point. They are also on the equator, so the perfect year round weather and low cost of living would be appealing.
Columbia – Even though there is also a travel warning to Columbia, the crime rates are decreasing and the year round perfect weather and lower cost of living is a draw to any retiree. A couple could retire to Columbia on less than $2,000 a month.
If you plan on retiring overseas, did the country you’re thinking of make this list anywhere? Comment below or share on my Facebook page!
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