International Retirement

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on July 11, 2023

Are You Retirement Ready?

An Overview of International Retirement

International retirement refers to the act of retiring abroad or relocating to another country for retirement purposes. It involves living outside of one's home country during the retirement years.

It has become an increasingly popular choice for many individuals seeking to enjoy their golden years in a different country.

It can offer various benefits, such as a lower cost of living, better quality of life, and exposure to new cultures. However, it also requires careful consideration and planning, including factors such as healthcare, taxation, and cultural differences.

Factors to Consider When Planning for International Retirement

Cost of Living

Housing Costs

When considering international retirement, it's crucial to factor in housing costs, including renting or purchasing a home, property taxes, and maintenance expenses.

Health Care Expenses

Healthcare costs can vary greatly between countries. Research the cost and availability of healthcare services, including insurance, in your chosen destination.

Transportation Costs

Consider the cost and accessibility of public transportation, car ownership, and fuel prices in your chosen destination.

Food and Entertainment Expenses

Factor in the costs of groceries, dining out, and entertainment options to ensure a comfortable lifestyle while living abroad.

Taxes and Inflation

Understanding local tax laws and the inflation rate in your chosen country is vital for maintaining a sustainable retirement budget.

Quality of Life

Climate and Weather

Choose a destination with a climate and weather pattern that suits your preferences and health requirements.

Healthcare Quality and Accessibility

Evaluate the quality and accessibility of healthcare services in your potential retirement destination, including hospitals, doctors, and specialists.

Safety and Crime Rates

Research crime rates and overall safety in your chosen country to ensure a secure and comfortable living environment.

Availability of Social Networks and Expat Communities

Connect with expat communities and social networks to help you adjust to your new environment and build a support system.

Cultural and Recreational Opportunities

Consider the availability of cultural and recreational activities to keep you engaged and maintain a high quality of life.

Political and Economic Stability

Strength of Local Currency

Assess the local currency's strength and its potential impact on your retirement budget.

Government Regulations and Policies Affecting Retirees

Research the government regulations and policies affecting retirees, including pension benefits and health care coverage.

Stability of Banking and Financial Systems

Ensure your chosen country's banking and financial systems are stable and secure.

Employment Opportunities for Part-time or Temporary Work

If you plan to work part-time or temporarily during retirement, research the local job market and work visa requirements.

Factors to Consider When Planning for International Retirement

Popular International Retirement Destinations

Latin America


Known for its warm climate, affordable living, and rich culture, Mexico is a popular retirement destination for many expats.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica offers a high quality of life, lush natural landscapes, and excellent healthcare options for retirees.


With its stable economy, low cost of living, and attractive retiree benefits, Panama is an increasingly popular choice for international retirees.


Colombia's diverse geography, affordable living, and improved safety make it an attractive option for adventurous retirees.



Portugal's mild climate, affordable living, and welcoming culture make it a top choice for retirees seeking a European experience.


Spain offers a warm climate, vibrant culture, and excellent healthcare, making it a popular retirement destination.


France is known for its rich culture, exquisite cuisine, and world-class healthcare system, attracting retirees who desire a high-quality lifestyle.


Italy's stunning landscapes, rich history, and delicious food make it a popular choice for retirees looking to immerse themselves in European culture.



Thailand offers a low cost of living, a warm climate, and rich cultural experiences for retirees seeking an exotic destination.


Malaysia is known for its modern infrastructure, affordable healthcare, and diverse culture, making it an attractive option for retirees seeking an Asian experience.


With its warm climate, low cost of living, and friendly locals, the Philippines has become a popular retirement destination for many expats.


Vietnam's diverse landscapes, rich culture, and low cost of living have made it an increasingly popular choice for retirees seeking an Asian adventure.

Financial Planning for International Retirement

Retirement Savings and Investments

Pension Plans

Understand how your move abroad will affect your pension plan and whether your chosen country recognizes foreign pensions.

Social Security Benefits

Research the eligibility and regulations for receiving Social Security benefits while living abroad.

Personal Savings and Investments

Evaluate your savings and investments to ensure they support your desired lifestyle in your chosen retirement destination.

Annuities and Insurance Policies

Review your annuities and insurance policies to determine how they will be affected by your move and whether they provide adequate coverage in your chosen country.

Tax Considerations

Taxation of Retirement Income

Understand how your retirement income will be taxed in your chosen country and whether there are any tax benefits for retirees.

Double Taxation Agreements

Research any double taxation agreements between your home country and your chosen retirement destination to avoid being taxed twice on the same income.

Tax Implications of Residency Status

Understand the tax implications of your residency status, including any potential tax obligations in both your home country and your chosen retirement destination.

Estate Planning and Inheritance Taxes

Consider estate planning and inheritance tax laws in your chosen country to ensure your assets are protected for future generations.

Currency Management

Currency Conversion Rates

Monitor currency conversion rates and understand how fluctuations may impact your retirement budget.

Foreign Exchange Risks

Be aware of foreign exchange risks and consider strategies to mitigate potential losses.

Opening and Maintaining Local Bank Accounts

Research the process for opening and maintaining local bank accounts in your chosen retirement destination.

Managing Investments in Multiple Currencies

Consider the potential risks and benefits of managing investments in multiple currencies.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations for International Retirement

Immigration and Residency Requirements

Visa Types and Eligibility

Research visa types and eligibility requirements for your chosen retirement destination.

Application Process and Documentation

Understand the application process and necessary documentation for obtaining a visa and residency in your chosen country.

Length of Stay and Renewals

Learn about the length of stay allowed on your chosen visa and the renewal process.

Path to Permanent Residency and Citizenship

If applicable, research the path to permanent residency and citizenship in your chosen retirement destination.

Healthcare Coverage

Access to Public Healthcare Systems

Evaluate access to public healthcare systems in your chosen country and determine whether you are eligible for coverage.

Private Health Insurance Options

Research private health insurance options in your chosen retirement destination to ensure adequate coverage.

Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance

Consider purchasing medical evacuation and repatriation insurance for added protection in case of a medical emergency.

Travel Insurance for Extended Stays

Research travel insurance options for extended stays in your chosen retirement destination.

Property Ownership and Renting

Legal Restrictions on Foreign Property Ownership

Understand any legal restrictions on foreign property ownership in your chosen retirement destination.

Renting vs. Buying Property

Evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of renting versus buying property in your chosen country.

Real Estate Taxes and Fees

Research real estate taxes and fees in your chosen retirement destination to ensure accurate budgeting.

Property Management for Absentee Owners

Consider property management options for absentee owners if you plan to maintain property in both your home country and your chosen retirement destination.

Preparing for the Move

Research and Networking

Online Resources and Forums

Utilize online resources and forums to gather information, insights, and advice from other retirees who have already made the move to your chosen destination.

Expat Organizations and Support Groups

Connect with expat organizations and support groups to build a network of like-minded individuals who can help ease your transition to your new home.

Participating in International Retirement Seminars and Workshops

Attend international retirement seminars and workshops to gain valuable insights and knowledge from experts in the field.

Pre-retirement Reconnaissance Trips

Consider taking pre-retirement reconnaissance trips to your chosen destination to get a firsthand feel for the location and to establish connections with locals and ex-pats.

Logistics and Practical Considerations

Downsizing and Shipping Personal Belongings

Plan and organize the downsizing and shipping of personal belongings to your chosen retirement destination.

Language and Cultural Barriers

Prepare for potential language and cultural barriers by learning the local language and familiarizing yourself with the customs and traditions of your chosen country.

Maintaining Ties to Home Country

Establish a plan for maintaining ties to your home country, including regular communication with friends and family and visits back home.

Establishing a Support Network Abroad

Build a support network in your chosen retirement destination by connecting with expats, participating in local organizations, and fostering relationships with locals.


International retirement offers individuals the opportunity to live their retirement years abroad, experiencing new cultures and enjoying potential benefits such as a lower cost of living and a better quality of life.

When planning for international retirement, factors such as the cost of living, housing costs, healthcare expenses, transportation costs, and taxes and inflation must be taken into account.

Additionally, the quality of life in terms of climate and weather, healthcare accessibility and quality, safety and crime rates, availability of social networks and expat communities, and cultural and recreational opportunities are important considerations.

Popular international retirement destinations include countries in Latin America such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia; European countries like Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy; and Asian destinations including Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

International retirement offers a unique opportunity for individuals to embrace new experiences and enjoy their retirement in different parts of the world.

By carefully considering the factors, planning financially, understanding legal requirements, and preparing for the move, individuals can make their international retirement a fulfilling and rewarding chapter of their lives.

International Retirement FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.

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