Everything You Need to Know About Retiring in a Foreign Country

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You spent most of your life working and saving money for retirement. Congratulations, you have made it! All that hard work has paid off because now you can relax and enjoy life. One of the things you can enjoy more freely is traveling.

And what better way to travel than to retire abroad. Now, you can finally see all the things, places, food and people you have been dreaming about your whole life. To make your journey to your next destination easier, we are going over everything you need to know about retiring in a foreign country. 

In this guide, we break everything down into:

  • How to plan your retirement abroad
  • The best places to retire abroad
  • The difference between a citizen and a resident
  • Additional information that will help you with your move

How to Plan Your Retirement Abroad

The first step in living abroad is to plan your retirement in a foreign country. 

1.Settle On Your Dream Destination

There are many different options for you to choose from. Hundreds of countries exist, so it can be overwhelming trying to find the right one. The easiest way to decide is to settle with your dream destination. 

2. Visa Options Vary Widely

Just because you are ready to pack and go does not mean you can easily move to another country. While many countries do not need a VISA for visiting for six months or less, you still need this paperwork to move and live abroad. 

3. Secure Your Housing

Before moving, you need to secure your housing abroad. Search for long-term rentals or housing within the area. Once you have a good list of potential places, visit the properties before you buy or rent to ensure the housing meets your needs and is still available.

4. Consider Health Care Costs

Health care in every country is different. And, your national health insurance may not work in other countries. Before leaving, set up an insurance plan with a private company that allows international claims. You may have to pay in full when you go to the hospital or doctor’s office in that foreign country, but you can send in an itemized receipt to get a refund. 

5. Learn the Language

Who says you are too old to learn a new language? If you are going to be living in a new country, you need to know the basics to have a comfortable life, especially while socializing or finding specific places. Before going, find a buddy from the country online and chat with them. 

6. Get an International Driver’s License

Will you live in a country that does not have the best public transportation? Then, you need to get an international driver’s license. Research the requirements for the specific country you are moving to before attempting to drive. 

7. Organize Your Assets (and Taxes)

Just because you are moving to a different country does not mean you can forget about your financial responsibilities and tasks in your home country. Take note of your net worth that includes investments, valuables, inheritances and other high ticket items. You want someone you trust to take care of your interests while you are gone.

Even when you live abroad, you still have taxes for your home country, especially if you have some kind of income coming in. Therefore, do not forget to pay or submit your taxes every year. 

8. Consider an All-Cash Purchase

Using your card in a foreign country can come with a lot of issues. Your bank could freeze your accounts for suspicious transactions since it is not a normal charge it would see, or you can come across scammers who steal your personal, card or bank information. To avoid these unfortunate situations, you can try out an all-cash purchase, especially for bigger purchases like a house, land or car. 

9. Visit Before Moving, Rent Before Buying

While you are ready to take that leap of faith and move abroad, you need to think and act wisely. You should always visit your dream destination before moving as well as renting a place over buying property. 

10. Determine Rules of Foreign Ownership

If you do buy a car, house, property or anything else where your name would be on the title or deed, you need to know and understand the rules of foreign ownership. Each country has its own ordinances and rules about ownership. 

11. Research Safety and Political Stability

Just like when you are visiting and traveling to new places, you should always research the safety and political stability of your goal country. You do not want to arrive in a country that is in the middle of political turmoil and is not safe. 

Best Places to Retire Abroad

Now that you have a good understanding of how to plan your retirement, it is time to think of the best places to retire abroad. Since there are hundreds of countries to choose from, we wanted to give you some of the top options that many people go with. 


Do you love tropical views, sunshine and modern amenities? Then, you need to retire in Panama. Right now, Panama has one of the fastest-growing economies that is stable for business and leisure. 

While you can still enjoy the simple pleasures of your original country, you can also enjoy reduced prices on food, transportation, insurance, healthcare and entertainment. To live in Panama, the cost of living is about $1200 to $4000 a month. 

Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s motto Pura Vida literally translates to life is good. And retiring in this country will help you achieve happiness in life. Costa Rica has year-round tropical weather, many rural areas, mountains, valleys, rainforests and so much more! You will always have something to do or see in this beautiful country. 

If you are moving from the United States, you will be joining over 20,000 ex-pats who call this tropical paradise their forever home. To live in Costa Rica, it can cost anywhere from $1400 to $1700 a month. 


Stay close to the U.S. by retiring in Mexico. Moving to Mexico, especially if you are from America, gives you the flexibility and budget to travel back and forth to visit family and friends or handle any important appointments you may have. 

Mexico is also surrounded by nature, kind people and delicious food. This country also has great cell service and coverage, so you can easily contact anyone from home. Many people come to Mexico to semi-retire since the internet and phone connections are stable enough to still handle business. The cost of living in Mexico ranges from $600 to $2000 depending on the area you live in. 


Experience new faraway places in Asia by retiring in Malaysia. Never worry about cold weather, a high cost of living or having nothing to do because Malaysia has just what you need. One of the best parts about living in Malaysia is that almost everyone speaks English because it is the national business language. It cost about $400 to $1500 a month to live in this country. 


Enjoy nature’s beauty at its finest. Ecuador is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes our planet has to offer. From Quilotoa Lake, a giant water-filled volcanic crater to Cotopaxi, one of the rarest and highest volcanoes in the world, there is always something to see. The average cost of living ranges from $950 to $2200 a month.

Citizen vs Resident

One of the biggest things about moving abroad people get confused about is the difference between being a citizen and a resident. A citizen is a person who legally belongs to a country like people who are born in the country or people who apply and earn citizenship through a citizenship test. 

A resident is a person who legally works or lives in the local area. Residents typically have VISAs, green cards and other statuses that allow them to stay in the country. Once these documents expire, the host country can deport the resident back to their original country. If you decide to keep your natural citizenship or do not apply for dual citizenship, you will be a resident of the country you retire in. 


We do not want to leave you with too many unanswered questions. That is why we made this shortlist of additional information that will be helpful on your journey. 

Can you retire in another country and still get Social Security?

You can receive your Social Security payments in all countries except North Korea and Cuba. If you live in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, you can get your Social Security money as long as you follow strict rules like visiting the U.S. embassy every six months. For all other foreign countries, you can go to your Social Security payment portal and go under the international section. 

Can I use my Medicare in another country?

Unfortunately, you cannot use your Medicare as health insurance in foreign countries. Before moving, purchase a private company insurance plan. 

By following this guide, you will have an easier time retiring in a foreign country. Want to learn about different areas of your life like cars, plants and other items? Then, you need to subscribe to our blogs to learn more information.

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