How to Retire Abroad: What to Consider and How Advisors Can Help


Many people look forward to traveling during their retirement. But a growing number of Americans are going further: spending their entire retirement abroad.

There are now nearly half a million Americans spending their golden years abroad – and that number is growing. According to the Social Security Administration, at the end of 2021, 443,546 retirees were cashing their SS checks while residing in other countries. This is a 28% increase over 2011.

A number of factors could be behind this surge. Patricia Casaburi is the CEO of Global Citizen Solutions, a consulting firm that helps aspiring expats — mostly Americans — find the right visas and residency programs. Clients cite a combination of reasons for moving, she said, including “disenchantment” with America’s political polarization, but also a sense of adventure.

“I think they enjoy the lifestyle,” Casaburi said. “They seem happy with the food, the discoveries, they have so much to look forward to – because it’s all new experiences.”

The most popular destination for its customers these days is Portugal, which offers a low cost of living, good weather and a largely English-speaking population — a good combination for the 9,945 American retirees who live there, according to the SSA. . Next is Spain, which has many of the same benefits but fewer English speakers, and which currently has 8,195 American retirees. Third on the list is the Caribbean – primarily St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda – where American retirees can enjoy beautiful beaches and scenery while staying closer to home. Overall, 18,747 American retirees live in the Caribbean and Central America region.

But retiring abroad isn’t as easy as jumping on a plane. There are plenty of things retirees should consider to make sure their target country is right for them – and a helpful advisor can walk them through the checklist. Adam Scott, CFP and founder of WellAcre Global Wealth Advisors in Santa Monica, California, has helped many of his clients relocate to Spain, Mexico and Thailand, among other destinations.

“The more you can learn and prepare for in advance, the smoother your transition to your new home will be,” Scott said.

Here are the financial considerations to discuss before a customer books a flight:


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