Retiring abroad: 6 crucial factors to consider before moving overseas

Expat life
07 Apr 2023
6 mins read
Written by Team Instarem

Are you dreaming of spending your retirement in a far-flung, exotic location? Have visions about trading in your daily commute for exploring new cities, picking up new hobbies and having a richer cultural experience? While the idea of retiring abroad may sound like an adventure, it’s important to think through the practicalities.

Whether you are just starting to consider retiring overseas or already have one eye on packing those suitcases follow these six crucial factors before taking the plunge into expat life! 

Research the best cities to retire

Retiring is a huge milestone in life, so it’s important to make sure you pick the right place to settle down. You don’t want to end up somewhere that – yeah, ok – was fun for the first few months until suddenly the cultural nuances become all too tiresome for your old bones.

Sure, Rio de Janeiro or Bangkok may seem like fun for a few weeks but when it comes to settling down for the long run there are additional factors to keep an eye out for.

What will your happy retirement life look like? Are there cultural and language barriers that may be more than an initial challenge to overcome? Will this destination ensure your desired level of joy for your golden years ahead?

If not you’d better go back to the drawing board – no one wants a tequila-induced regret come time to retire! Do some research, assess what works best for your needs and lifestyle, and find the perfect place that will give you everything you need throughout retirement.

Visas/immigration requirements

If you want to settle somewhere long-term, it can be daunting to navigate the rules and regulations of getting a visa.

Many countries have tight laws around immigration and new passport stamps are required from time to time. It can feel like a never-ending Visa Run if you don’t have the qualifications for residence!

That said, there are definitely some places that look attractive on paper but require a ton of paperwork, or have high thresholds for immigrating permanently.

For example, countries, such as Switzerland, make it extremely difficult for foreigners to gain full-time residency; others, such as Panama, are exceptionally flexible when it comes to wooing foreigners to retire within their borders.

Make sure that all necessary visas are acquired before leaving your home country – check with an immigration lawyer if possible – since there are usually strict timelines for when these must be obtained by individuals looking to retire overseas.

Budgeting & savings plan

Planning how much money you need to retire is hard enough, let alone tying it to the cost of living in a foreign country. Don’t be tempted by how low the cost of living might seem–developing countries can see humongous spikes in their cost of living as they develop.

You don’t want to end up stuck in a foreign territory with no way back home. I mean, Bali might be paradise right now…but how about 20 years down the line? Suddenly those once economical flights become unfathomably expensive when $1,200 is equal to five months of your retirement expenses!

If you still want to flap your wings, you need to make sure your budget plan is solid and can support this lifestyle change. Consider all potential income sources as well as any expenses that should be taken into account when making the move overseas.

Taking proactive steps to map out a budget plan can help keep you from being short-changed or having to limit your fun experiences in foreign lands.

Consider tax implications

There is one pesky thing that will remain with you no matter where you go: taxation.

That’s right – taxes tag along for the adventure and won’t be left behind! And remember, just because you have moved to a different country, this doesn’t mean you won’t have to file your taxes back home. This could get messy if you’re paying taxes in two countries. To avoid headaches down the line, do some research on the local tax laws in the country you are moving to and then get advice for any arrangements that the country may have with yours. Get the right advice from a qualified accountant or lawyer to stay on top of the situation.


Take some time to arrange your health insurance before taking the leap. There’s nothing worse than finally retiring to your dream destination only to realise that there’s no medical facility nearby – or that you can barely afford it!

Do some research on the locals and their healthcare practices and make sure you have an adequate plan in place if you get sick or injured. That way, as your age continues to increase, your medical coverage doesn’t have to decline – and neither does your quality of life.

Pension & retirement benefits

Retirement benefits are indeed like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for many retirees. But the irony is that even if you do manage to retire overseas n- getting your money out of the country without incurring extra taxes can be another challenge altogether.

That’s why it is important to understand exactly how pension contributions will work if you move abroad – any changes can have knock-on effects in terms of retirement funds later down the line

Countries such as Cuba, North Korea, Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Georgia won’t accept cheques or bank transfers from retirement companies.

The best thing to do is set up an appointment with a financial advisor so you can protect what may be life’s biggest investment: your retirement fund.

Have some familiarity with the country you’re retiring in before actually taking the plunge!

It may sound crazy, but if retiring overseas has crossed your mind, then a trial run could be just the thing you need. Consider it as an extended vacation: hop on a plane and explore the culture, see how well you fit in – and do it all while being on the lookout for great deals and opportunities!

Whether it’s retiring long-term or settling down somewhere great part-time, doing a trial run in a new country could be a great way to decide which location is best suited for you. After all, life is too short to pick up stakes blindly.

So why not give retiring overseas the trial-run test drive? You never know where you might end up…

Before you go…

Have you been daydreaming about retiring to somewhere exotic? If so, planning ahead with your finances is key.

With Instarem, you can securely send money and receive money from other countries around the world.

Try Instarem for your next transfer.

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*Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned.

About Instarem

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