Weekly Insight: Retiring Abroad

Spending vacations abroad is becoming increasingly popular. International travel grew 8% from last year, which means that almost 67 million Americans traveled outside the U.S. The most popular travel destination for Americans is Mexico. We all love a good vacation, but have you ever considered extending your vacation…permanently?

Retiring abroad has grown increasingly popular.  The number of U.S. citizens moving abroad has increased about 20% since 2010. The Social Security Administration estimates that around 400,000 United States citizens retire outside the United States, and that number is expected to increase in coming years. Many Americans choose to retire abroad due to the low cost of living, the desire to experience new cultures, better weather, and easy access to beaches and margaritas. Here is a list of the Top 5 Countries that can give you just that.
5. Columbia

Colombia, located on the northwestern tip of South America, has become one of the most popular tourist destinations due to its beautiful scenery and culturally rich cities. Retirees can live in Colombia for less than $2,000 a month, with the cost of living in Colombia being 53% lower than in United States. Colombia is also well-known for offering excellent healthcare at a low price. Colombia has a temperate climate, is only a three-hour plane ride from Florida, and is in the Eastern time zone. Geographically, it is the size of California and Texas combined. There are lots of activities to do there, and flights to and from Colombia, as well as bus travel inside the country are relatively inexpensive.
4. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the most popular tourist and retiree destinations in Central America, due to its numerous beach towns, rainforests, and volcanoes. It has been rated as one of the safest and easiest countries to adjust to in Latin America due to its friendly locals and easy accessibility to modern services and conveniences. A retired couple can live comfortably in Costa Rica for just $2000 a month, and healthcare is top tier throughout the country. Retirees can enjoy a tropical climate year-round, and whitewater rafting, canopy tours, and nighttime rainforest hikes are just a few things to do when you get bored with sitting on the beach.
3. Ecuador

Ecuador is located just south of Colombia, and is currently home to about 10,000 American retirees. Ecuador’s popularity stems from its extremely stable climate. It is located directly on the equator, and a cooler climate (if that’s what you desire) can be found in the mountains. Healthcare in Ecuador is among the best in South America, and extremely affordable. In fact, a couple can retire comfortably on just $1500 a month. Ecuador also offers great retiree benefits, as over-65s get discounts on flights, public transportation, and utilities, as well as up to 50% off entry to movies and sporting events!
2. Panama

Panama is located between Costa Rica and Colombia. It is best known for the Panama Canal, which brings a high level of infrastructure, top-notch cellular and Internet connections, and a broad international mix of people to the country. About 25,000 Americans call Panama home, largely due to the vast retirement benefits the country offers, which include up to 50% discounts on entertainment, public transportation, airline tickets, healthcare, hotels, and restaurants. Although Panama is a bit more expensive than some of the other countries on this list, the cost of living in Panama is still 25% lower than in United States. Healthcare here is among the best in Latin America, and the tropical climate and proximity to the United States make Panama one of the top retirement destinations in the world.
1. Mexico

Mexico was not only the most popular travel destination last year, but also the most popular retirement destination abroad. Home to about 1.2 million Americans, Mexico’s proximity to the United States and its beautiful, tropical climate make it an enticing retirement option. Mexico offers a balance of foreign culture and a familiar First-World lifestyle, with the friendly locals and a large number of expats. The cost of living is the lowest on our “Top 5 Retire Abroad” list since a couple can live well on just $1200 a month, and this number continues to get lower as the peso has weakened against the dollar in the last few years. There are top tier hospitals and doctors throughout the country, and most doctors have received at least part of their training in the U.S. or Europe. The retirement benefits offered to legal residents who are 60+ include 5-50% discounts on airline and bus tickets, medical care, museum entrance fees, healthcare, groceries, restaurants, and hotels. The only visible flaw in Mexico is the crime rate in certain areas. Click here to see the states to avoid in Mexico as stated in the U .S. State Department’s Travel Warning.

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If you would like to take a look at the top 25 places to retire as listed by the Annual Global Retirement Index, see the chart above. If you are just thinking about traveling abroad (not quite retiring yet), check out this post, as well as the newest world happiness report for countries worldwide.

Let me know your thoughts on this list, and feel free to email me with your own recommendations on where to retire abroad! As always, if you have any questions on how to plan for a retirement abroad, feel free to give me a call.

Today's article written by Surevest intern Peter Bos, a junior at the University of Michigan.


Jeremy A. Kisner, CFP®, CPWA® is a Senior Wealth Advisor at Surevest Wealth Management and author of book: A Good Financial Adviser Will Tell You.
Weekly Insight: Retiring Abroad was published: by
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