Getting out of the country is taking on a new meaning for millions of Americans.

That’s because some of them are finding out that they have undersaved for retirement and have run out of years to save. So, they increasingly opt for an outside the border solution. It is highly unusual, but it could make their budgets work.

Head for the Airport

“For folks worried about stretching their nest egg even a few years spent in a good value place abroad can make a big difference on the bottom line. Moving overseas can be a solid strategy for shoring up savings,” according to Jennifer Stevens, executive editor of International

Stevens says the expatiate option is enticing many Americans.

“It’s never been easier to retire overseas—the infrastructure is better than ever, technology keeps you connected to family and friends back home, and there is a wealth of safe, welcoming, beautiful options overseas,” she says.

In part this retirement outside the country idea is because many of these potential retirement places don’t require a foreign language, travel experts say. (See notes “English Spoken Here”).

Where Dollars Go Farther

Possibly the most important factor for a generation of undersaving Americans, Stevens says, is in many places “a retiree can live comfortably for less than $2,000 a month.”

And Americans are taking note of these bargains.

Indeed, the number of American retirees living elsewhere is on the rise, according to the U.S. State Department, which says 8.7 million Americans are living abroad. It projects those numbers will rise in the next decade.

Some 500,000 Social Security payments are sent overseas, about 100,000 more than two years ago, according to the government. But Stevens says those numbers are likely undercounted.

These Americans are retiring to one of the many places where American money is welcome and retirement budgets work, says a travel expert who has written for numerous publications.

More than the Money

Kathleen Peddicord says living abroad can start as a financial move but often becomes something much better.

“For many, the decision begins with a concern that their retirement nest egg may not be big enough to carry them through.”

But she adds that benefits can be more than financial.

“Every retiree I’ve known who has taken the bold, brave leap and moved to a foreign country at this later stage of life eventually comes to realize that the real benefit isn’t the reduced cost of living but the enhanced quality of life,” she says.

Peddicord, 55, who took the plunge twenty years ago with her husband, is the author of “How to Retire Overseas. Everything You Needed to Know to Live Well (For Less) Abroad.”
Nevertheless, despite calling the experience “an adventure,” Peddicord knows money remains a primary issue for many. She says the most tax efficient countries for Americans living abroad are Panama, Belize, Uruguay and Malaysia.

“The positions of these countries on taxing is about as good as it gets. In these four countries, you pay tax on only what you earn in the country. Earn no income within the country, and you pay no tax in the country,” she writes.

Peddicord has lived in Ireland, France and Panama. She is now very interested in living in Portugal. She says that it is an overlooked country with a lot of appeal for retirees and others who just want to live abroad for a while.

A Halfway Approach?

Some who may still be spooked by the challenge of a foreign retirement might consider an intermediate step. Stevens notes some Americans are considering a part-time retirement overseas.

They’re ditching the snow shovel,” she says, “and spending three or four months on the beach in Mexico or escaping the heat in places like Arizona and heading to the highlands of Ecuador over the summer.”



English Spoken Here

Here are some island nations where you will not only survive on your money but also with your mother tongue.

*The Islands of Belize

The weather is hot year-round. Belize is one of the least densely populated places on earth. American dollars are accepted and will stretch a long way here.


About 90% of the population speak English. Business transactions and official documents use English. Many speak Italian as well as English and Maltese. The currency of Malta is the Euro.


A very popular vacation spot because it is warm and sunny all year. A sea breeze makes the humidity bearable and perfect for sea sports. It is the most developed nation in the Caribbean but it is also more expensive than others in the region.

Source: “How to Retire Overseas: Everything You Needed to Know to Live Well (For Less) Abroad.”


Gregory Bresiger
Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent financial journalist from Queens, New York. His articles have appeared in publications such as Financial Planner Magazine and The New York Post.