What to Consider Before You Retire Abroad

What to Consider Before You Retire Abroad

Retiring abroad is a dream for many. Whilst it can be a hugely exciting prospect, it will be a big step and a big change. There’s a lot to consider before you move abroad to retire, to ensure it will be the right decision for you. 


You may already have an idea of where you would like to retire to. Perhaps you are looking for a specific climate, or a particular way of life. It may be that you want to move abroad but not too far away from your home country, or maybe you would like to move somewhere where you can already speak the language. 

Whatever is driving you, you should make sure to research your dream destination thoroughly before you commit to moving there. Ideally, you should look to speak to people who have already retired there, so you can get a more complete indication of what it’s like to live there. You may be able to find forums online with groups dedicated to people who have retired abroad and/or in the specific location you would like to move to. You could ask questions on these forums to speak to other people and hear their first-hand experiences. 

Remember, living in a location will invariably be quite different to taking a holiday there. Visiting can be great for getting the feel of a place, but living there day-to-day will involve different things, such as dealing with local bureaucracy, different financial systems, and potentially unfavourable weather in the off-season. 

You should also consider the specific location within your chosen country. There may be towns, cities and even neighbourhoods that will be better suited to your needs. If you have visited a town on holiday, it might not be the best choice to live permanently as it could be more geared towards providing for tourists. Instead, you might prefer to find a location a little removed from the tourist hotspots. 


Many countries offer visas specifically for retirees. Others may allow residency visas without the need for the applicant to work, but you may need to prove you have sufficient funds in your bank account. You should research the visa process for your chosen destination thoroughly. Often information can be found on the country’s government website. 

If you are able to contact retirees who already live in the country, you could also reach out to them to ask for their experience in applying for a visa. They may be able to offer advice that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. 

Different countries will have different processes for applying for visas. Some might require you to move on a temporary visa and then apply for permanent residency once you’re in the country. Others will require you to have your residence visa approved before you travel to the country. Bear in mind that some visa applications can take several weeks to be processed, so you should start applying in good time. 


Once you’ve finalised your destination, you can think about your accommodation. Different countries will have different rules regarding foreigners buying property there, so you should first research to see if buying will be possible. If not, you may have to stick with renting a property. 

If you are able to buy a property, you might find it beneficial to rent first. Taking on a short-term let can give you a base so you can view properties in person and at your leisure once you’ve moved to the country. You’ll also have more freedom to travel to different towns and get a feel of each place, so you can find the perfect location. 

If you don’t speak the local language, you might find it helpful to employ a relocation consultant who speaks your language. They’ll be able to help you find the right accommodation and also translate documents. Communities with a high expat population will be more likely to have people who can fulfil this role for you. 


Healthcare will be a priority whatever age you move abroad but can be of utmost importance as you get older and you find you have additional healthcare requirements. You may need regular check-ups, examinations, and screenings to ensure you keep in good health. 

Some countries may require you to pay for healthcare. Prices can vary depending on the location, but in some instances, fees can be high. Other countries may provide access to free, public healthcare, but you should bear in mind that it may not be up to a standard you are used to. Many retirees choose international medical insurance to ensure they’re protected whilst abroad. This will allow them to access private healthcare facilities, which are typically of better quality than public healthcare. They also generally have much shorter wait times and more choice when it comes to treatment. 

Private healthcare can also be helpful for those abroad as you may be more likely to find a healthcare professional who speaks your language. This can help to make things much easier and give you peace of mind that you’ll have full understanding of your healthcare needs and treatment options. 


You will be able to continue receiving your state pension wherever you move to in the world. You will need to tell the Department of Work and Pensions that you are moving abroad and give them a forwarding address. You can choose to have your state pension paid in to a UK bank account, if you will be retaining one whilst you’re abroad, or to a foreign bank account in the country you’ll be living in. 

Some countries have a social security agreement with the UK, which means your pension will increase every year. If you move to a country that does not have this kind of agreement, your pension will not increase. Countries that have an agreement include EEA countries, Switzerland, Barbados, Gibraltar, Turkey, and the USA, plus others. 

How you receive your personal pension will vary depending on your provider. You should aim to contact your workplace or personal pension provider in good time to determine their process for individuals moving abroad. 

The amount of pension you actually receive will vary depending on the local exchange rate. The value could go up or down, depending on the local currency and current rates. You can take some time before you move to work out how much your pension will be worth in the new country. 

Image: Bruno Van der Kraan