Retiring abroad is a dream for many. Imagine spending your days reading on the beach, or tending a garden where avocados and oranges thrive. Or perhaps drinking red wine on the patio each day and turning in early under the Tuscan sun, or meandering the Louvre for hours on end.
But whether in Paris or Cyprus, there are a few things you must consider before you make the move. Here are five things you need to think about before making the decision to become a pensioner abroad.
1. What kind of visa do you need, and how can you get it?
This may be the most obvious one. If you want to live anywhere for an extended period of time, you’ve got to ensure you have the legal right to be there first.
If you're already a citizen of an EU country and want to move to another EU country, the process should be quite simple – but for those outside of the EU or those who want to retire somewhere more tropical, there could be quite a bit of paperwork involved. Many countries – such as Australia, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malta, and Mauritius just to name a few – have specific retirement visas. The requirements vary but you must at the very least provide evidence of good health, adequate funds, and no criminal record.
If a retirement visa doesn't suit you then a standard immigration visa might, or even an investor's visa if you've got the funds – but be sure to look up the individual country's requirements before you get too attached to the idea.
2. What benefits can you receive overseas?
So, you've built up a sizeable pension and you're ready to live off it while lounging in the sun. Don't act so fast. For Americans looking to retire abroad, keep in mind that Medicare does not cover healthcare overseas.
US Social Security benefits are valid overseas if you're eligible, but there are also other issues involved. For example, if you have worked much of your life abroad and contributed to a pension programme in another country, there might be a bilateral social security agreement allowing you to receive similar Social Security retirement benefits anyway. There are also Totalization Agreements, which help ensure you're not double taxed for social programmes. However, there are gaps in these agreements since they don't exist with every country – know before you go so you don't fall in the cracks.
The UK has similar rules – it has agreements with certain countries but not others. So while you're working abroad, make sure your state pension is increasing – and when you retire abroad, keep an eye on taxes and how your pension payments are treated wherever you retire.
3. Do you have adequate health and medical coverage?
Speaking of Medicare not applying abroad – before you retire abroad it's imperative to figure out how you will handle medical costs. UK citizens who move abroad will no longer be entitled to receive standard NHS medical care, and if you have a European Health Insurance Card, that might not be eligible anymore, either.
The best way to make sure you'll always be covered, for whatever you need and wherever you go, is to have a private international health insurance.
Cigna Global, for example, specializes in health insurance for expats, with a medical network of over 1 million hospitals and healthcare professionals worldwide.
Customers aged 60 and over get a special reduced rates on your health insurance plan, as well as the new 60+ Care benefit also ensures you're covered for pre-existing conditions like arthritis, glaucoma, hypertension, osteoporosis, and Type 2 Diabetes.
4. Should you close your accounts back home?
If you’re living abroad, you’ll probably need a bank account in your new country of residence. However, don’t be too hasty to close your accounts back home.
Many retiree expats find it’s easiest to keep the majority of their wealth in their home country. For Americans that makes it a lot easier to keep the IRS happy, since you have to report on all of your assets abroad.
Many foreign institutions don't have equivalent accounts for things like 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts, so the easiest way to maximize your pension can be to keep it in place even if you move yourself.
And no matter where you’re from, it’s often simplest to have your state pension deposited into your account based in that country.
Just transfer what you need each month to avoid extra ATM and currency exchange fees, but don’t move what you don’t need.
5. How close will you be to friends and family?
If you’re planning on retiring abroad, chances are you’ve already got a location in mind. But have you thought about how easy it is to get to?
How hard will it be for friends and family to visit? How often will you be able to go back?
Make sure to consider connectivity – how close is the nearest airport? Is there local public transportation? And if you plan on driving, is your license valid there?
If you’re moving far away, it can be a good idea to try out the location before you make a permanent move. See how you feel being there for a month first.
This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Cigna Global.