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Retiring Abroad: What You Need To Know

posted 2 years ago


As one gets older, the thought of where you would like to retire is raised. Over recent years, retiring abroad has fast become a new and exciting adventure for many. However, the legalities and practicalities of making the adventure workable are important and depend on the choices you make. They determine how simple or difficult the journey in reaching your goal will be.

Destination, is of course, important as are the pros and cons of each location.

Below are just a few points to consider:

  • What type of visa is most suitable for me?
  • What are my rights and obligations as an international retiree?
  • Can my family freely come to visit me?
  • What are the tax implications?
  • Can I purchase property?
  • Do I need a will in the country of destination?


The first and most exciting decision to make is where exactly you want to retire.
The world is your oyster and there are so many amazing options. Currently, the most popular locations include Portugal, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and Colombia. These are based on objective factors including health care, climate, cost of living and ease of securing a visa. Asia is also another top destination as it also offers many interesting options, especially when it comes to affordable private health care.


The choice of destination could restrict or widen the paths available to you to be able to retire there. This could be through a citizenship-by-descent, citizenship-by-investment, a nomad visa or a retirement visa path.

For example, some countries offer citizenship-by-descent, meaning that as long as a parent or grandparent was born there, you could apply for full citizenship and receive all its associated benefits. Ideally, that country will also allow you to keep your existing citizenship i.e. hold dual citizenship, so you do not lose the ability to easily travel or move back to your former home. Countries that allow for dual citizenship-by-descent include Australia, Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and several more.

In other countries such as Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts & Nevis, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Turkey and Vanuatu, citizenship-by-investment programs are the most effective way to secure an alternative citizenship and passport with all its benefits and rights to retire, in exchange for a dedicated investment.

An increasingly popular trend emerged few years ago and now many countries have initiated nomad visas as a means of tourism and economic stimulation. These visas (often referred as digital nomad visas, remote visas, or freelancer visas) combine the perks of working remotely with the bonus of living abroad and are currently available in over 25 countries such as the Bahamas, Iceland, Mauritius and Taiwan.

If an alternative citizenship or a nomad visa is not what you are looking for, then consideration of the destination’s visa requirements is important. Visa types and requirements vary widely: a temporary residency permit might be limiting in time or renewable and will naturally come with paperwork and renewal fees. You will often have to live in the country for a certain number of years before you can apply for permanent residency or citizenship, if that is your end goal.

Some countries, such as Thailand, the Philippines, Colombia and Panama, have visas specific to retirees who can demonstrate that they meet a minimum monthly income requirement. Other countries offer residency to foreigners who make real estate purchases.


Your first instinct might be to buy property in your newly adopted country. However, one should not assume that the real estate market or homebuying standards are the same abroad as in your native country. Some countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines have important restrictions on where – and what – foreigners can buy and own legally.

If you are set on buying, it is important to first explore your options with the help of a qualified lawyer who understands the local market and can advise you on both the immigration and the property angles. A reputable lawyer can advise you on the possible restrictions you may come up against and assess any potential legal complications for any properties you are interested in and assist you in opening a local bank account and the possibility – or impossibility – of securing local financing for your purchase.

Buying property alone may not provide the right to live there.

Renting could be a safer option when you first arrive in the country, and you are exploring where you might want to live. But again, the rental process in other countries is often very different and can include providing a substantial security deposit, a requirement to pay a full year ahead, or unique requirements related to renting a furnished property.


In most countries, immigration is restricted to authorized immigration lawyers to guide and advise you and your family. Retiring abroad does have an immigration component, hence doing your own research and due diligence on the type of professional to assist you, is highly recommended. Unlike agents or non-authorized firms, a professional immigration lawyer has an obligation to advise on the best destination and program most suited to your objectives and lifestyle.

For more information about our services, please visit our website at www.harveylawcorporation.com

If you would like to discuss with one of our professionals regarding your retirement plans, please contact us via email at [email protected]



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