Retiring overseas offers many potential advantages, including a year-round mild climate, and a significantly lower cost of living as compared to most places in the U.S. Another possible upside: the benefits some countries provide to retirees, including American ex-pats.
Here are the top four countries for such benefits, according to a study by International Living
Panama — This Central American country makes it cheap and easy to become a legal resident via its “Pensionado” program. To qualify you only need to prove that you have a minimum $1,000 per month income. As a pensionado or “pensioner” you will be a permanent legal resident of Panama and enjoy the wide range of discounts provided to all the country’s retirees, including 25%-30% off transportation tickets and 30%-50% reductions on hotel rates. Pensionados also get a break on healthcare charges, including 10%-20% off consultations, medications, eye exams and hospital bills.
As a foreign pensioner, you are also exempt from some taxes and fees, including luxury taxes on cars and closing costs on homes.
Ecuador – American retirees 65-plus who obtain an Ecuadorian national ID card are entitled to significant refunds, including a rebate on a big chunk of the sales tax they pay each year. Bus and airfare are half-price for retirees, as are tickets to many entertainment and cultural events and venues.
Belize – As if its Caribbean beauty wasn’t enough, Belize offers significant incentives for older Americans to relocate. Beginning at age 45 you can apply for the country’s Qualified Retirement Program (QRP). As a QRP, you can import all of your belongings without paying taxes or duties. During the first year, that even includes a car, boat or plane. Also, your foreign-earned income is exempt from Belizean taxes.
Oh, and you only need to spend one month per year in Belize to take advantage of this program.
To enroll in the QRP, you need to deposit $2,000 per month or $24,000 annually into a Belizean bank account. You need to renew your QRP status each year, which requires proving that you have either the income or savings to keep making the required deposits.
France – France? Yep. The 60-plus crowd receives generous discounts on travel and cultural admissions. The French national rail system offers an annual senior pass for about $75 that guarantees a 25% discount on every train ticket purchased – 40% off first class! Book in advance and you could save even more. Air France offers various discounts to those 65-plus and exempts them from change fees.
Movie theaters, museums and many tourist attractions offer senior discounts up to 40%. While some of those breaks are supposedly reserved for European Union residents, International Living notes that you can usually get the discount simply by asking for it.