Here’s Why More Retirees Are Ditching the U.S. to Retire in a Foreign Country


By Gina Ragusa | Cheat Sheet

With approximately 400,000 retired Americans living abroad, moving overseas later in life is becoming a popular trend, according to CBS News. Why? Many say they get more for their money living outside the U.S. and scratch that travel itch. Plus, some find living in a tropical climate to be better for their mind and health too.

Where are U.S. retirees heading? Portugal appears to be a popular destination, but so does Mexico, Malta, Italy, and France. If you’ve been dreaming about retirement or are on the verge, here are some reasons why so many of your peers are heading overseas.

You can stretch your dollar

One Texas couple moved from Crockett, Texas to Costa Rica in 2011 and only needed about $2,500 a month to live an easy life, according to Kiplinger. The couple had a gardener and a housekeeper, plus they dined out traveled frequently. They also lived in a resort area and purchased a home for about $320,000. A comparable house would probably run close to $750,000 in the U.S.

Retirement is more of a reality

Some people chuckle when asked about retirement because it just seems unattainable. However, if you consider retiring overseas, you may be able to fulfill that retirement dream, CNBC reports. “Outside the U.S., the cost of living can be half what it is in the States, especially in regards to health care,” Dan Prescher, a senior editor at International Living told CNBC. More people are using this option over the last 10 years, making the notion of moving overseas the gateway to retirement.

Technology makes money management easy

Several years ago, you’d be reliant upon getting funds from a bank branch. However, online services such as direct deposit and remote deposit capture make money management a breeze, Kiplinger reports.

Some retirees maintain a bank account in the U.S. and the country where they reside, which may be a good idea, especially if you make trips back to the U.S. Maintaining a U.S. mailing address is important if you plan to keep your U.S. bank account, as banks tend to close expat accounts due to rules under the Patriot Act.

Healthcare expenses may be considerably cheaper

Even if you have Medicare to cover expenses, healthcare in the U.S. can possibly consume your retirement savings, especially if you have health problems later in life. Retired couples could end up spending upwards of $275,000 in healthcare alone, according to a study by The Motley Fool, so some look for a better solution.

Countries with inexpensive healthcare include Mexico and France, where the average visit to a physician is a mere $26, plus the government covers about 70% of the expense.

You can find adventure

You’ve been doing the right thing for years. Paying your bills, raising a family and showing up for work, day in and day out. If travel is on your list, moving abroad in retirement may be the perfect time to kick off your adventure.

This may mean dropping a few bucks to learn a new language, but that makes the adventure even more fun. You should also be open to living outside your comfort zone too. Even though you may need to make a few adjustments to overseas living, 86% of retirees in a Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies poll said their mood improved when they were able to travel.

Relaxing under a palm tree is more attractive than shoveling snow

Cold, cloudy weather can be depressing for just about anyone, but older people find dismal weather particularly harder to handle, Wise Bread reports. Not only does climate impact mood, warmer temperatures encourages outdoor activities and may help retirees stay more active. Bike riding, swimming and even surfing your way through retirement sounds a lot healthier than shoveling snow.

Travel and adventure may keep the brain engaged

Learning something new may keep the brain active, which includes learning a new language, reading, or learning a musical instrument, according to Everyday Health. Travel may also reduce stress and even help to forge friendships, especially when traveling in a group, Forbes reports. Being in a new environment also builds brain health and resilience, which may also sharpen your observation and sensory skills.

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