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10 Questions to Answer Before You Retire Abroad

Category: International Retirement

May 17, 2011 — Maybe you’ve been wondering about the best places to retire in the world. Perhaps for you that means buying retirement property on a beautiful tropical beach in the Caribbean, or maybe a small European village. The attractions of retiring abroad are many – the low cost of living, the charm and high standard of living, interesting cultural opportunities, and warm climate. Tens of thousands of Americans decide to retire overseas, and maybe you will be one of them. Retiring abroad can be exciting, cost-effective, and totally enjoyable. But before you decide to retire south (or some other direction) of the border, you had better think about these ….

10 questions. Some came from an interesting article in the UK’s Telegraph, “10 Best Places to Retire Abroad“. At the end of the article we’ve provided their top 10 International places to retire, a most interesting list.

10 Things to Know Before You Retire Abroad
1. Can you get a visa to live there, and for how long? Each country has different rules, so find out before you get too invested. In some countries you can only stay for so many months before you must leave and reenter.

2. Along the same lines, what are the regulations that affect you owning property as a foreigner? In some countries you must go through an intermediary, in others you can only have a land lease for a certain number of years. Will you be able to resell the property, and/or will you be permitted to pass it on to your heirs?

3. Do you have a good local attorney? You are about to enter a very unfamiliar world. Hire an expert to help you.

4. If you have only been to your new country in the “season”, what is the weather like the rest of the year?

5. What is the health care situation? Are there good hospitals and qualified physicians nearby? Will your American health care insurance cover you? Can you buy local insurance? Where will you go in the event of an emergency – take a plane back to the U.S.?

6. How convenient is it to get where you are going to retire to? Must you take an airplane, and how expensive are the flights in season? What about transferring to the town where you are going to live?

7. How stable is the local government, and what is the local crime rate like? Stable governments are a matter of course for most of Europe , but what about getting caught in a situation like urban Greece where government protests have gotten ugly? In Central and South America these concerns might be greater, but will always be local. For example, even though Mexican drug wars are a staple for headlines, there are many areas of the country that are still safe and stable.

8. Who and what are you going to miss the most? Will your children and grandchildren come to visit often, or will you have to go to them? The more desirable the location, the more visitors you will get. But if your children have no money, that’s another problem. Local stores might not have the products you are used to getting.

9. Do you want to live among the locals, or do you imagine yourself in the expatriate community? If the former, you had better learn the language (maybe you are already fluent). Are the locals receptive to outsiders? If you are going to live in an expat community, are you prepared to live in a fairly small world?

10. What about currency risks? If the dollar goes up or down, what will be the effect on your standard of living?

The answers to many of these questions vary in difficulty. Searching on the Internet will provide many answers, particularly at the various government websites. has many country-specific reports you can purchase. To find the answers you must spend some time on the ground, which is always the smart thing to do. The worst thing you can do – you guessed it – buying property while you are enjoying a wonderful vacation.

The Telegraph’s Top 10 Places to Retire Abroad
The first thing to note about this list from an English newspaper is that it is from the European perspective. Americans looking for the best international places to retire would undoubtedly have a different list, much more heavily weighted to the America’s.
America. The Telegraph thinks that Florida, with its depressed real estate values, is a great place to retire. We agree.
Barbardos. A lot of Brits retire to this former colony and member of the Commonwealth. Home sales are reported to be up and prices down, with condominiums being very attractive.
Cyprus. Aside from the warm weather, this island in the Mediterranean can be very attractive as a tax residence. If you live here just more than half the year you can become a citizen and pay modest income taxes.
France. The thing about France is there are so many great places to retire. Most people tend to retire to the coasts, particularly along the Cote D’Azur, but almost as many choose small towns in regions like Provence, Dordogne, or the Languedoc. Prices are off their 2007 peak in most regions, although apartment prices in Paris are soaring.
Italy. Prices are still down in Italy as well. The Telegraph likes Umbria, Tuscany, and places near Lucca. We agree, they make some wonderful choices. Rome would make a wonderful urban retirement spot.
Mauritius. We had to look this one up to see where it is (east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, well east of Southern Africa). The Telegraph cites its picture postcard beaches, and an expat-friendly tax status for retirees who buy certain type of properties. Go to for more.
South Africa. The Brits tend to retire around Cape Town, which has a nice climate and beaches too. Prices are lower than in Europe.
Spain. With its warm climate and huge coastline, Spain has long been the popular spot for Europeans to retire and vacation. The southeast portion around Murcia, which has several golf courses, is particularly attractive for retirees.
Switzerland. According to the Telegraph, don’t think about living here unless you are rich. But if you are so lucky, you will probably get richer here. Taxes can be favorable. And did we mention how beautiful this country is?
Turkey. Part in Europe and mostly in Asia, Turkey offers lower prices and many interesting places to live. The warm beaches in the south tend be resort towns that are more European than Asian. Bodrum and Kusadasi are two such destinations.

Are you thinking about retiring overseas? Share your thoughts about the advantages, drawbacks, and best places to retire internationally in the Comments section below.

For further reference:
What you need to know about retiring in Mexico
11 Things You Need to Know Before You Retire Overseas (by Kathleen Peddicord)
Top 10 International Places to Retire

Posted by John Brady on May 17th, 2011


  1. Hi John,

    As someone from the UK, having recently left, I would point out that a top destination for a UK resident to retire is likely to be significantly different to an American. The main difference if of course the distance. You mentioned, “Where will you go in the event of an emergency – take a plane back to the U.S.”, and you are right being able to jump back home isn´t an option available to most however being close enough for family to visit easily and for you to visit them I imagine is a priority for many.

    On that note I find it hard to believe that you haven´t added some “local” favourites to the list such as Mexico. Only a few small towns in a vast country full of world class beaches are having the trouble we see in the papers, the rest of the country is fantastic, and with direct flights from the USA it is perfect for many.

    I have made the move to Mexico and do not regret it one bit.

    Simon Loftus, Amistad Real Estate

    by Simon Loftus — August 15, 2011

  2. Hello Simon, thanks for these very helpful comments. Regarding Mexico, I am sure you are correct. There are many beautiful places in the country that are safe and very appropriate for Americans, Europeans, and Canadians. When we visited Cabo San Lucas and Tados Santos this spring we had the same impression. Would you care to share some of the towns that you think are good places to retire in Mexico – we would love to hear about them!

    by John Brady — August 16, 2011

  3. Todos Santos and Cabo San Lucas are certainly the better known areas of Baja California Sur however La Paz is becoming increasingly popular with retirees and holiday makers alike.

    The city has developed along a long stretch of coast which is protected by two large bays and the gulf itself as it is located on the inner side of the peninsula. This protection helps to avoid the damage that hurricanes and tsunamis can bring as well as making it a great home for wildlife and of course people!

    I have a small blog myself on my site however the new government website truly encapsulates all the great reasons people should check out La Paz before deciding where to retire.

    It also has the great benefit of being significantly cheaper for the same standard of living as Cabo and direct flights into La Paz from Los Angeles make the trip down nice and easy.

    Thanks John,


    by Simon Loftus — August 24, 2011

  4. My husband I have been reading your newsletter and we are slowly learning how to prepare ourselves before we retire. My husband is an American and I am a naturalized American with Korean background. My husband is an International school principal and I am a teacher and we plan to retire in five years. Our entire adult lives have been spent outside of United States in an international communities. We have lived in Korea and are working in Shanghai, China right now. We are financially secure. We have two sons living in America and we would like to retire in the USA.
    These are some of our questions and if you could assist us any way you could, I’d really appreciate it.
    1. Is there such a community where many of people retired from working overseas?
    2. If there are such communities, are there any in East Coast?
    3. If there aren’t any, do you have any recommendations for us?

    Editor’s Response: Yours is an interesting question. I dont really know of any place in US that specializes in returning expats. Of course i suspect major cities like NY and Washington have many. You say you have 2 sons in US, you certainly might relocating somewhere near them (but maybe not too near). Good luck.
    (we will also post this on our Forum)
    PS: Our correspondent wrote back that her “2 US sons live in Chicago and New Hamshire. BRRRRRRR!”. Funny

    by topretirementseditor — December 4, 2011

  5. […] “10 Questions to Ask Before You Retire Abroad A Move to Ireland: A Texas Couple Moves to County Sligo Mexican Retirement Gone Bad Taking Baby […]

    by » 10 Best International Places to Retire Topretirements — September 9, 2013

  6. I am moving to the Baja soon and wa?nted some ideas on how to handle my SS funds. do I set up a t?Pay pal account to transfe them? What do you suggest

    by V. Brooks — September 5, 2014

  7. John,
    Perhaps you should consult the CIA website. You might not want to recommend places that are unsafe….Turkey for example.
    Also, just listing the most obvious retirement countries isn’t much of an insight.

    by observer — August 29, 2017

  8. Don’t forget the State Dept. website.

    by shumidog — August 30, 2017

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