Expat Resource Centre

What to consider when retiring abroad

With so many places in the world inspiring dreams of a more relaxed lifestyle, it’s no wonder the population of expat retirees keeps growing. But it’s not all roses in paradise.

According to a survey by the Best Places in the World to Retire site, the three top expectations of expats who retire abroad are a lower cost of living, a less stressful lifestyle and better weather. The results found also that most retirees abroad achieve two of these things – but the hope for a simpler, less stressful life proves more difficult to materialize.  

Take a look at some of the common challenges that expats face when retiring in a different country.

retiring abroad


International tax burdens can be frustrating for many retirees. Complicated tax issues can also make it difficult to buy property abroad, and understanding all the local laws and implications can be a daunting task. If you are having trouble, consider seeking advice from an expert in immigration tax – it can be costly, but it may help you to keep in line with the tax authorities.


Moving to a country with better weather can come with compromises, and one of these can be high-quality health care. Health standards can vary significantly from country to country, and there are major differences in waiting times, cost, and accessibility for expats. In many countries it’s difficult to find good quality healthcare in remote or rural areas, which often translates in an inconvenient need for patients to travel to more populated areas in order to receive good medical treatment.


Although online banking has made it much easier to manage money from abroad, restrictions in some countries can make it difficult to transfer funds. Opening an account in a foreign country can also be a challenge because of different regulations.

Cost of living

According to the survey from Best Places in the World to Retire, many expats manage to lower their cost of living when retiring abroad. But in some cases, weakening currencies lead to retirees ending up losing money rather than saving. Also, the high rates of inflation in some countries can be difficult to predict. It’s important to determine your budget and allow for exchange-rate fluctuations and inflation.


With immigration rules changing from one country to another, expatriates sometimes need to renew their visas periodically – which usually comes with a price. The paperwork required can be a hassle, and something that most expats have to go through. 


Adapting to a different culture is part of the challenge of living abroad, and retirement is no exception to the rule. A different language can be one of the main worries. However, many destinations are growing in popularity amongst expat retirees, and it can be a good idea to do some research and find other expats in your location and international groups that can help you to adjust.

Source: Based on information from CNBC, Market Watch report on poll results from Best Places in the World to Retire and CBS News.