Thinking of retiring overseas? Check out this guide first

Pick an overseas dream destination: would you like to retire there?

It’s a dream for many Australians to retire to another country, but could this be your reality?

It may be sunning yourself on a foreign shore, it may be the culture and it could even be the cheaper cost of living, but whatever the reason, the following tips will help you make your decision before you farewell Australia for good. 

Money, money, money

Before you start looking, your first step is to get some professional advice.

Moving to another country is not like a fancy tree change to another state. You are going to have to do some serious research into what you can and cannot afford, the tax implications, how you are going to support yourself and what support you can expect from the Australian government. 

Unless you have a high level of financial literacy, you are going to need some professional advice. 

Some of the financial issues you should raise with an adviser should include:

  • Will you need to work to support yourself, and are you eligible to work in another country?
  • The taxation on, and access to, your super.
  • What pension payments you will be eligible for and how they will be paid.
  • What health insurance you can access and if you will still be eligible for Medicare if you return to Australia. Is there is a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Australia? These reciprocal agreements allow Australians to access some healthcare for free in certain countries, however, there are limitations on what’s been negotiated and each country has different rules. Find out more here.
  • Housing – some countries do not allow foreigners to buy property.

Try before you buy

So you have a financial plan, but part of that plan should include a trial living in your target destination for at least six months, 12 months if possible.

This allows you to make your mind up before making one of the biggest life decisions ever. So, no pressure.

Issues you should consider include:

  • Available healthcare: retiring to another country because it’s cheap may also mean a considerable drop in healthcare standards just when you need them the most. 
  • The weather: warmer climes often come with a monsoonal rainy season that will rot your clothes, and colder ones with a winter that may never seem to end. 
  • Everyday culture: if you have enjoyed a holiday at your proposed destination, that is a vastly different experience from living there. 

Think about a normal day. You may have had a day at work in a clean, well-supported workplace with plenty of wifi. On the way home in your in late model car you have driven on well-maintained roads and popped into the supermarket for something quick for dinner. Sounds like an ordinary day, right?

Well, all of those things may not be possible in a country that’s cheaper to live in, but in no way matches our living standards. 

Take just about any Pacific island nation for, an example, all with any amount of beautiful five-star resorts for tourists. But step back into everyday life and it’s like another country again. Poor sanitation and housing, simmering cultural tensions and high living costs.

Experiencing the culture, delights and difficulties of another country on a day-to-day basis is the only way to make up your mind about your desired new home.

Visas and residencies

There should be some serious investigation as to your residency status when you move to another country on a long-term basis or forever.

You may qualify for a visa for retirees. This may be labelled as something else, but it’s basically a tempter to attract rich retirees to a country that wants your foreign cash. As a rule, they also mean you don’t have to work to stay.

You should also check out when and how many times you can renew your visa. You don’t want to go through all the hassle of uprooting your life and then finding two years later your visa has run out permanently. Awkward.

Whatever the visa, if it’s for a long-term or permanent stay, you will almost always need to provide some evidence of financial self-sufficiency.

What’s your backup?

What if it doesn’t work out? You could hate it, or suddenly need a high level of healthcare or cheaper healthcare.

What if you only want to spend a few years living overseas? Do you have a plan? 

You may not be able to afford to move back to your old stomping ground with Australia’s escalating housing prices. You may have lost touch with family and friends who have moved on, so slotting back into your old life may not be possible.

Always take the long view and keep open the possibility that you may have to return to Australia – whatever the reason.  

Are you considering retiring overseas? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Retirement age for Aussies jumps

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. Do lots of research including into population density and criminality figures. Is there Australian diplomatic representation in the country? Try before you buy is very wise advice. While you are “trying” make sure you learn the language (at least speak and read) of the country concerned.

  2. Don’t get sucked into buying property with some of these proxy trustee deals with local “fixers” . Buying immovable assets in countries you don’t have “blood” citizenship in is risky.
    Your visa is your only right to be there…if that’s denied an extension or your temporary resident card etc , is not renewed , you’re stuffed. If it doesn’t fit in a suitcase , consider it stays behind. I’ve lived overseas 13 years & have seen several expats get screwed over with property “deals”. You can rent for peanuts……why buy a cow when milks so cheap.

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