Retire Abroad, Should You Be Considering It?

Millions of Americans are Retiring Abroad Should You Be Considering It?

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Inflation is Making Retirees Reassess their Options

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently stated that the number of Americans drawing their benefits from overseas grew from 413,000 to 760,000 in the last three years.

However, even that substantial growth is an underestimate as many retirees deposit their funds in US banks but draw the cash overseas, and these withdrawals are not visible to the SSA.

While less precise, the State Department estimates that 9 million Americans live abroad, and experts suggest that 5 million of these have retired abroad, or 12% of the nation’s 45 million retirees.


Living outside the United States

Baby boomers increasingly understand the advantages of living outside the United States. The current economic woe paired with rising energy and living costs at home, while returns on investments and asset values fall, are all furthering the trend.

Inflation, in particular, is making many people look favourably at the cost of living overseas. With covid receding, the number of emigrants is escalating even more aggressively.

Overseas Residence

In this article, we will examine why so many Americans are making this decision Retire Abroad and why now. We will then discuss where they are heading and, in a final contribution, how overseas residence may be achieved by those interested.

The first driver frequently comes down to finances. An income that may be comfortable or even tight in the United States can often give a lifestyle considered luxurious overseas.

In destinations like the Caribbean, some of the Mediterranean countries, or those in Southeast Asia, the cost of living is significantly less. We will take one popular location from each area – Grenada, Portugal, and Thailand – to examine this with more precision.

The table below summarizes the key elements of the main programs for you.
(Please note: the table is a summary only. For more details, please talk to a trusted legal professional.)

Cost of living

According to, a website monitoring the cost of living globally, a one-bedroom apartment in a city in Portugal is 57% cheaper than in an American city, costing a little over $500 per month. In Grenada, it is 60% less and in Thailand 80%. Essentially, for half the price paid in America, it is possible to have a larger and more luxurious apartment with a view, pool or even a gym.

The overall cost of living is also less vis-à-vis America, by 34% in Portugal, 21% in Grenada, and 43% in Thailand. Clothing prices are about the same, except for Grenada, where average prices they are down by 30%.

However, groceries are 5% (Grenada) to 51% cheaper (Portugal), and a meal and drink in a casual restaurant is 45% (Grenada and Portugal) to 88% (Thailand) lower. Inflation is a problem almost everywhere due to energy and food prices, but in these countries, the percentage increase is off a much lower base price.

The table below summarizes the key elements of the main programs for you.
(Please note: the table is a summary only. For more details, please talk to a trusted legal professional.)


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    Apart from housing and living expenses, another major consideration for those over 60 who wish to Retire Abroad is healthcare. Although Medicare pays certain costs for those aged 65 or over, it does not cover such things as most dental work or long-term care, and it can come with other out-of-pocket expenses. All three countries mentioned above have good healthcare systems, but the costs are often dramatically lower.

    In Thailand, for example, an appointment at one of the country’s top hospitals is around USD 25, and a dental crown is about USD 200, compared with thousands in the U.S.A. Long-term nursing care can be as little as one-sixth the cost in the United States.

    In addition to the fact that it is quite stimulating to be living somewhere new, many of the most popular countries for American retirees are notable for their scenery, beaches, and year round sunshine. Travel is very popular with this age group, and the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Southeast Asia all offer a dozen or more cultures and places to explore within a three-hour flight, making it less expensive and quicker to visit.

    Additionally,, entertainment possibilities are often much broader than in any one location in the U.S.A, with everything from water sports to hiking, golf to art, wineries, shopping, and restaurants. Again, often at 30% or more or less than Stateside.

    Many of these countries also provide more favourable tax regimes, making financial management easier. In some cases, this includes no tax on income sourced overseas, no wealth tax, and no inheritance tax.

    Lastly, safety is a critical issue for many, especially for those who are older. The US State Department has an up-to-date rating in this respect for every country in the world, from 1, which is “Normal,” to 4, where it recommends “Do Not Travel.” All the countries we have discussed thus far have a score of 1.

    The more in-depth and independent Global Peace Index ranks countries across 23 parameters for safety; America is in the middle at 126th.

    The relatively small Caribbean Island states are not included, however, Thailand is considerably safer than the United States at 103rd and Portugal at 6th is one of the safest countries in the world. There are exceptions, but in most main countries for retirees, personal security is similar to, or better than, in the United States.

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    If you would like to discuss your plans with one of our professionals, please email us at [email protected]. Unlike agents or non-authorised firms, HLG is a professional immigration law firm, and as such, has an obligation to advise you on the best options and on the programs most suited to your goals.