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Tax and Healthcare Considerations When Retiring Abroad

Retiring abroad is a dream come true for many: experiencing a new culture, finding a nice little villa near the beach, a slower pace of life.  And while this is a reality for lots of retirees, there are still many healthcare and tax obligations to consider before you get to the part where you can sip margaritas with your toes in the sand.


Like they say, death and taxes are the only two certainties in life.  Even though you live overseas, you should expect to pay taxes in your home country unless you formally renounce your citizenship.  In fact, depending on your investments, how much money you’ll be taking abroad, and if you’ll be working in your new home, you might have to pay taxes in both places.  However, thanks to international deductions, earned-income exclusions and tax treaties, some of these same factors might also work in your favor.

Tax law is confusing within your country of origin, and your new destination will be no exception.  Before making the big move, try to talk with a tax consultant that specializes in overseas taxes and retirement programs.  Even if you’ve been using the same person for 20 years, your average tax guy might not be knowledgeable enough on international taxes to truly be helpful, and you can’t afford to take that risk.  If for some reason this isn’t an option, work with tax experts on both sides of your move to ensure you’ve appropriately organized your finances and are playing by the rules.

Insurance and Health Care

Since you probably won’t be covered by Medicare or your conventional insurance plan when overseas, finding a country with a progressive and inexpensive healthcare plan is a must.  Luckily, for many expats, one of the biggest benefits of retiring abroad is the low cost of healthcare and insurance.

Once you’re settled, many countries offer Pensionado programs (such as Costa Rica and Panama) that allow for a fast retiree-specific residency so that you’ll be able to participate in the comprehensive local healthcare programs.  Usually, and for much less than you’d be paying at home, you’ll have full coverage from prescriptions to surgeries.

Believe it or not, in some places (like Ecuador) another choice is to opt out of all insurance because it’s cheaper to pay out of pocket rather than maintaining the monthly expense of insurance.

The great news is that there are options out there for all retirees, regardless of their current health or tax situation.  Explore options based on your needs in order to find the best location available abroad for your retirement.

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