According to a 2017 report from International Living Magazine, Mexico tops the list of places to retire abroad. Panama ranks second, followed by Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Colombia.¹
Many retirees consider moving out of the country in search of greater affordability, adventure, and a change in lifestyle. However exciting retiring abroad may sound, it deserves considerable planning.
Things to consider
- Where do you want to retire?
There are many starting points for this search, but primary considerations may include cost of living, stability of the country, access to healthcare, the type of experience you desire, and the climate.
Engage your spouse in the conversation since both of you need to be happy and excited in order for a move to work long term.
- Visit prospective candidates
Test drive the country you are considering. No amount of research from your living room can replace being on the ground experiencing the people and actual living conditions.
- Check visa and residency requirements
Each country has different requirements for permanent residency. Some have programs designed to welcome retirees. In any case, you’ll need to know what is required of you before putting down roots.
- Make an appointment with a tax advisor
While visiting prospective countries, spend time with a local tax advisor to understand the country’s taxation of U.S. retirees. You don’t want any surprises.²
- Nirvana doesn’t exist
As you go through this process, appreciate that each country will have its pluses and minuses. You will need to balance them based on your personal priorities. Also, try to remember that most countries will not offer a U.S.-style living.
- Consider health insurance
Since Medicare generally does not cover health care expenses incurred overseas, as is the case for private U.S.-based health insurance, you should research health insurance that will cover you in the country of your choice.
- Consider renting first
Moving into an unknown area makes intelligent real estate decisions difficult. Consider renting to learn the area, understand the neighborhood, and learn whether it offers the range of activities you want.
- Beware of scams
A retiree working on a dream is fertile territory for people looking to separate you from your money. Work with only reputable businesses that you’ve identified from research and referrals.