Australia’s No.1 overseas retirement destination revealed

Font Size:

New Zealand is the number one destination for Australians looking to retire overseas.

Global foreign exchange provider WorldFirst analysed thousands of pension-type international transfers by its Australian customers across 2016 and 2017 to gauge the leading destination for overseas retirement.

The data revealed that 19 per cent of all Australian pension-type international transfers via WorldFirst were made to New Zealand in 2017, declining slightly from 23 per cent in 2016.

The second leading destination for pension money transfers was the UK, in both years, though the data followed a similar trend, with a decrease to 17 per cent in 2017 from 21 per cent the previous year. 

Australia has strong migrant ties with New Zealand and the UK. Five per cent of Australia’s population are migrants born in the UK, and 2.5 per cent are New Zealanders according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Singapore had the third highest proportion of pension money transfers, with 15 per cent in 2017 up from 12 per cent in 2016.

Closely following were Thailand and the US, the next most popular retirement destinations, accounting for 13 per cent and 7 per cent of all pension transfers respectively in 2017.

“New Zealand is extremely attractive for those looking to retire overseas and presents many positives for pensioners: economically, geographically and culturally,” said WorldFirst’s Patrick Liddy.

“While Australia and New Zealand’s economies have followed similar positive trajectories over the past 25 years, New Zealand’s lower cost of living and comparatively cheaper properties – Auckland’s median house price is 28 per cent cheaper than Sydney’s – means every pensioner’s Australian dollar will go that little bit further if they spend it across the ditch.

“New Zealand also has strong cultural similarities to Australia, and its proximity – a short three-hour flight from Sydney and Melbourne – makes it is easier (and cheaper) to visit family and friends.

“We’re also seeing an increase in Asian destinations. Although the cost of living in Singapore is high, its strong economy is drawing in more Australian expats.

“An Aussie pension in Thailand, on the other hand, can go a lot further, and you have the added luxury of stunning beaches and cheap living costs.”

Would you ever consider retiring overseas? Which country would you choose for your retirement?

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


Growth is surging, but are retirees missing out?

Economy may be surging, but pensioners are losing out on the growth spurt.

Are retirees being frugal or struggling to survive?

What's the real story behind the spending habits of older Australians?

Are you financially literate? Survey results revealed

We asked you to participate in our financial literacy survey. This is what you told us.

Written by Ben


Total Comments: 19
  1. 0

    I have considered various destinations for retirement. But after spending some time, minimum 3 months there, the rose coloured glasses come off and the realities come into focus. Australia is hard to beat if you own your own home.

    • 0

      Have to agree with you Franky, have been to many countries and since you mention your own home does the clincher. You are not after cheap rent all the other realities fall away. OK, beer is cheaper and if you are a smoker you might save $120 a week but you can give that up. Just let other people stay somewhere for your stated 3 months and their glasses come off too. – But then again they might find a young partner . . .

    • 0

      Nailed it Franky. Watched some folk on TV last night who had fled to Aussie after experiencing the horrors in their homeland and years in camps waiting for settlement in OZ. LOVE Australia and the opportunities they have for their new home BUT some were saying that if, IF, conditions improved in their homeland they would like to return ‘home’. Guess its true – ‘home is where the heart is’.

  2. 0

    With foresight, I bought a house in the Bay of Plenty, NZ a few years ago and plan to use it in my retirement for holidays during the warmer months in NZ and otherwise enjoy the Queensland sunshine. Perfect set up for retirement. I will get to see my grandchildren and family on both sides of the Tasman.

    • 0

      I agree, I think the ultimate would be to live in NZ for 8 months and Queensland for 4. NZ is a great place for a family to go in school hols, but when it gets cold head for the sun.

    • 0

      MJ & grey hair 🙂 Agree with both of you. I have, when younger, worked and lived twice in NZ. 2 of my children were born there. Seriously thought that I would spend the rest of my days there, in retirement, but decided to return to OZ to finish our childrens education and for them to avail themselves of, in my opinion then, better career opportunities. They did obtain and now enjoy great career paths and I eventually retired. My wife and I for over 20 years spent one or two periods a year in NZ indulging in our passion of ‘tramping’ (bushwalking) and enjoying the many delights that our ANZAC neighbours can offer. We love both countries (off again in 4 weeks) and can only recommend any Aussies who haven’t visited to jump on a plane for 3 1/2 hours and be prepared to enjoy yourselves. Having made sure you have, of course, seen as much as you can of your wonderful homeland 😉

  3. 0

    The ‘pension-type international transfers via WorldFirst to New Zealand’ may just be New Zealanders returning home after living in Oz.

    • 0

      That could be right, Scott. There is no means testing in NZ as yet and in that case I think it might be interesting for Kiwis to return home as long as the information exchange does not catch them out.

    • 0

      Every chance you’re right Scott with the downturn in some sectors (high paying) in WA and Qld of recent times. Plus other factors too – getting older and wanting to return permanently to the embrace of whanau and having earned/profited from working/living in OZ for many years etc.

  4. 0

    I heard the rents and utility expenses are higher than here. New Zealanders come here because the cost of living is cheaper here. Anywhere is a great place to live when you can afford to live there.

  5. 0

    I thought the Aussie pension transferred to Thailand had some cost of living adjustments made to it.?

    • 0

      Possibly negative adjustments – you lose your energy allowance for a start. My big question would be the cancellation of the Medicare Card which is not usable in foreign countries with the exception of possibly Malta.

    • 0

      Hi Charlie, I have a Thai wife, so know many Oz guys who have likewise, – Thai women look after their men, hard to beat, but they expect you to look after them in return, – the which many Thai men do not.
      Most of these guys have young girls, – often a family, – some of these women are heart-stoppingly beautiful, but like beautiful women everywhere can have large expectations, – My wife is an old peasant farmer woman, – nearly my age, (68) and there are things more important than beauty.
      Whatever, when you get older you can have health problems, – Thailand has good hospitals etc, but living in your idyllic village in the jungle with your loving wife can suddenly become awkward as there may be insufficient transport to get you to the hospital in time if you have a stroke etc.
      Hence I find my new acquaintenances, (husbands of Thai ladies) trending towards staying in Oz as they get older as life is so good they want to prolong it as much as possible.
      Perfectly uderstandable.

  6. 0

    I dont know why anyone needs to use transfer services for living costs. Seems an archaic process in this age of internet banking. I live overseas and all my money stays in Australia. My credit cards have automatic direct debits set up and I never have to worry about money or payments.

    The story does specifically mention pension transfers so its not capital transfers that they are referring to. I guess a lot of people are still scared of the internet and using credit cards. If only they knew it’s 1000% safer than carrying cash.

  7. 0

    Fuel at NZ$2.20/litre approx. Food dearer than Australia( carrots $2.39/kg, Milk 2.35/litre),housing expensive.
    Try dealing with builders. My last experience for a quote of $500 + gst, final account came in at $2300 incl GST. Not a bad markup from a quote to the final job account.
    Went to dispute. Advised to have a statement sign off by a witness (JP) Comment by referee “I could ask the builder as he was at court whereas the other party didn’t front. Justice Dept advised to send the statement which I did. Got screwed by the NZ Justice system. You want to live in NZ on retirement??????.
    Building products through the roof ie 90mm plastic drainage pipe 6m length approx $50/6m length. Aust only $15/length. 90o bends in NZ $12 Aust $1.10.
    Middle of the North Island only warm weather for approx 4 months of the year. Stay in Australia
    If you like rugby well and good. Fush and Chups is cheaper than Aust.

  8. 0

    I was born and raised in NZ but have lived in OZ (Queensland and Victoria) since 1969. My brother still lives in Christchurch and I visit him every two years or so. I’m now retired on an Australian part age pension and a small amount of super. When last in NZ I inquired at Work and Income (NZ equivalent of Centrelink) about the sort of age pension I would receive if I ever returned to live in NZ . I was told that I would be eligible for roughly whatever it was Centrelink was paying me when I left OZ and I wouldn’t qualify for the NZ non means tested age pension until I had lived there for another few years (from memory maybe five years) so I don’t see any immediate benefit in going back.My impressions are that pretty well everything in NZ is a bit more costly and, because I have lived in regional Victoria where housing is still affordable compared to Melbourne, I would find that buying equivalent housing in Christchurch (which still isn’t as dear as Auckland) would be just beyond my reach. But, if you have money behind you, there are some very nice places to retire in NZ and I agree with bobm the fish and chips are bloody good, much better quality and value than in OZ!

  9. 0

    Have lived in NZ twice, me Aussie wife kiwi, and I believe that its the best place in the world to bring up a family. However, after a while you realise that everyone is doing it tough financially, its freezing cold in winter and the winters are long. Electricity is extremely expensive on generally lower wages. A lot of new houses have underfloor heating but no-one can afford to turn it on, its just a selling point for resale.
    Do not expect your child on leaving school to get a half decent job unless they went to the right school (Christchurch especially) and to do that you need to live in the right catchment area. I found that the first question anyone asks is what do you do for a living, so they can pigeon hole you straight off and the second question will be what school did you attend.
    We went for all the right reasons fresh air slower pace of life, better quality of life but came back both times for mainly economic reasons.
    Last time I was there I was quizzed a couple of times about them retiring in Oz and I explained to them that if they have any money they may not get a pension which they found hard to believe (theirs is not means tested and you can continue to work if you wish and own a rental property) The only thing wrong is U have to live there to get it. NO Thanks

  10. 0

    I was born in Yorkshire England and emigrated to Australia with my family as ten pound poms, although it was free for me as I was only 19 yrs old. After fifty years in Australia I still miss England and realise that my heart is still there, probably because I miss the beautiful rich green countryside and the beautiful and unique old architecture and history. Hating the heat of the Australian summers and coping ok with the winters here I think I would cope with England’s weather especially as it seams to be warming slightly with global warming. The years of Australia being the “Lucky Country” are over and politics and a lot of politicians are hopeless, selfish and are only concerned with building their fat bank accounts and supporting the 1%. When it comes to infrastructure spending it takes them years of talking then years of building if at all, I won’t start on banks. Anyway I wondering if a few pom’s could write about their experience of going back to the UK after spending years in Australia. Oh yes, I own my own house after retiring last year and I’m in very good health.



continue reading


Tobacco and childcare drive cost of living increase

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.9 per cent in the December quarter. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics...

Age Pension

Retirement system ‘uncertain for almost all retirees’

Australia, a nation of almost four million retirees, has one of the world's best retirement systems. The 2020 Mercer CFA...


The big question: How much do I need to retire?

Life expectancies continue to rise, and with that comes a host of challenges. For governments, there's the increasing cost to...


Understanding the true cost of retirement

The Australian government spends billions on boosting retirement incomes. The two biggest costs, the Age Pension and superannuation tax concessions,...

Age Pension

Adequacy of retiree nest eggs

YourLifeChoices conducts several surveys each year to gauge the financial, physical and mental health of our 260,000 members. The aim...

Age Pension

Age Pension payments in 2021 – what you need to know

World heavyweight boxing champion, Olympian, ordained minister and successful entrepreneur George Foreman returned to the ring at the age of...

Age Pension

Services and rebates that can save you hundreds

Last year, I put together a retiree checklist. In 2021, there are some additions. This is a long list and...

Age Pension

Pension rates, PBS entitlements, health fund changes

YourLifeChoices keeps you up to date with retirement income changes. PBS co-paymentsThe maximum co-payment for general patients for drugs listed...