Many Americans view foreign countries simply as places to visit, but a few who are “in the know” understand that they can be great places to retire as well.
In addition to offering a different culture, many countries specifically court foreigners by providing financial and lifestyle incentives to retire there. Retiring abroad is a major life decision, and you’ll have to keep your eyes open to all the pluses and minuses that come with spending your golden years overseas. But it’s worth taking a look at the perks that you can take advantage of if you decide to take that step.
Panama has become a mecca for American retirees, thanks in part to its warm climate and relatively inexpensive cost of living. But its Pensionado Visa is the one against which most other countries are measured. Retirees who qualify are granted a host of benefits, including:
- 50% discount for expenses or closing fees on financial transactions for commercial or personal loans
- Exemption from payment of SFIC transactions in personal and commercial loans
- 15% discount on personal and commercial loans on their names
- 1% discount on the interest rate of mortgages for housing for personal use
- 50% discount on passports
- 25% discount on domestic and international airline tickets
- 50% discount on hotel rooms Monday through Thursday and 30% discount on weekends
- 20% discount on prescription drugs
- 15% discount on dental and optometry exams
- 30% discount on intercity buses, boats, ships and trains
- 25% discount on food in restaurants
- 15% discount in fast-food restaurants, if those are national or international franchises
- 15% discount of the total bill for services in hospitals and private clinics
- 20% discount on physicians and surgeon fees
- 20% discount on fees for technical and professional services
- 20% discount on all prostheses and all devised and assistive accessories as well
- 25% discount on electricity, telephone and water bills
- 50% discount on recreation and leisure activities such as movies, concerts, theaters, sporting events and other public events every day
- 50% discount on airport tax
- 20% discount on coffins and urns
- Exoneration from import tax (only once) on all goods, belongings and appliances for personal use up to the value of $10,000
- Exoneration of the import tax of one car every two years.
This long list of benefits outclasses every other visa offered by a foreign nation to American expats, and you don’t even officially have to move to Panama to qualify. As long as you spend at least one day in the country per year, you can maintain your visa status.
The Annual Global Retirement Index 2022 dubbed Portugal one of the five best places to retire overseas — and with good reason. A high quality of life, low cost of living and a generous retirement visa all play important roles. With a Portugal visa, you’ll have access to the company’s healthcare system, educational system for any dependents and the opportunity to acquire permanent resident status after five years.
If you’re 45 or older with a retirement income of at least $2,000 monthly, you may qualify for the Belize Qualified Retirement Program. By meeting just a few other requirements, including staying for at least 30 consecutive days in Belize at least once per year, you can gain access to a host of benefits, from residency status and duty exemptions to tax exemptions, dependent benefits and land purchasing rights.
The beautiful beaches, affordable lifestyle and English-speaking population all add to the appeal of retirement in Belize.
The sun-soaked Philippines are very friendly to foreigners, particularly in terms of acquiring a retirement visa. A quite inexpensive place to live, the Philippines is also home to some of the world’s best islands. Acquiring a Special Resident Retiree’s Visa entitles an expat to an indefinite stay (with multiple entry/exit privileges), a waiver of import duties and taxes on up to $7,000 of personal effects, and exemption from taxes on pensions and annuities.
SRRV holders also don’t have to pay the Philippine Travel Tax when they leave the country. This visa also allows expats access to the PHILHEALTH system.
Many other countries offer retirement visas to expats, but some just grant the ability to reside in the country without access to things like healthcare or discounts on services. Individual cities in some countries, including Spain and Italy, may offer financial perks for expats to live and invest in them, primarily due to shrinking populations. With a little legwork, you can likely find an option that is attractive to you.
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