Retirement abroad does not mean that expatriates no longer have to concern themselves with taxes as retired American citizens who live overseas are still subject to the same tax laws as those who reside in the United States.
It is estimate that about 15% of the world’s countries are tax havens, but not all of those are beneficial as retirement destinations, because many present a prohibitively expensive cost of living or they lack sufficient medical care for the elderly. Most of the countries that are tax havens are small and affluent, offer an excellent standard of living and are well governed, but it does take some research to find a country that offers “it all”.
Many experts online offer lists of tax havens around the world, but only some would be considered, by our own expertise, to be great retirement destinations for the average, middle-class American expatriate, as well as the wealthier among us. There are a number of income, savings, investment and retirement fund issues to consider when choosing the right retirement destination, but there are also a number of different destination options, tools, programs and products that can help you best protect your assets and keep more of your money to yourself.
The following are our top 5 Favorites for lifestyle, quality of life, and affordability, as well as tax haven asset protection in retirement.
Andorra, though not commonly heard of, is a great favorite among experts for those considering retirement abroad. With no personal taxation and an excellent standard of living, the cost of living is moderate and the country boasts political as well as economic stability. Low crime rates make this small landlocked microstate a safe place to call home and particularly mild climate makes it a comfortable place for the elderly who may suffer from rheumatism or arthritis. Bordered by Spain and France, easy access to the rest of Europe make it a travel happy place and one that easily facilitates home visits to the United States.
People have long considered Panama to be one of the best locations for retirement because of its close proximity to the United States, great pensionado program that offers special benefits to those in retirement and comfortable lifestyle on a low to moderate budget. A convenient and tax efficient place to begin a business or invest, Panama has long been a great tax haven, but it is no longer the banking haven that it once was and North Americans in particular have found it difficult to open bank accounts or protect their privacy.
Big city life and gorgeous beaches, the tropical climate of Panama is appreciated by many and excellent health care at extremely low costs, as compared to the United States, make Panama a highly desirable location for retirement abroad.
Malaysia is the only Asian country that makes it easy to obtain foreign residency. With its diversity of lifestyle options, English speaking community and high standard, yet affordable medical care, make this tax haven an easy choice for expatriates who wish to retire overseas. The one caveat to this island paradise is that it is pretty far from the US, making home visits to family and friends a bit more costly and difficult.
Uruguay is a stable, tranquil country in the deep southern regions of the Americas and it offers easy residency establishment for retirees who wish to settle there. A tax haven makes it great for managing retirement funds or income and its stunning natural beauty and high quality of life make it a natural choice, and though some do consider the distance from the United States to be a bit of a con its lively community during high season and slow tranquility during low season create a nice balance in the lifestyles of retirees.
Though Belize is not the least expensive place to retire, and offers only limited health care facilities, its breathtaking beauty and proximity to the United States helped it make our list. English is the first language in Belize and the laws are easy to understand as they are British based.
As a “haven” Belize can boast that it is both a tax haven and a banking haven. Belize has had a series of offshore tax and banking laws in place for over a decade that allows for privacy, asset protection trusts, IBCs, maritime registration and insurance. In addition to that, Belize offers a special program for retirees over 45, making it easy to obtain residency and shipping your car into the country is relatively easy; though you will need to pay import duties, they are not nearly as high as many countries abroad.
Einat Mazafi is the owner of NYShipping, an International Shipping and moving company based in New York. She is also a specialist in providing the best relocation solutions to clients worldwide.