Retirees are leaving America to save money By Gregory Bresiger
Retired Americans who are down on their luck are moving out of the country to stretch their savings and Social Security income.
“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 Living.com.
Stevens said the expatriate 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 said.
Possibly the most important factor for a generation of undersaving Americans, Stevens said, is in many places “a retiree can live comfortably for less than $2,000 a month.”
Kathleen Peddicord, 55, who took the plunge 20 years ago with her husband, is the author of “How to Retire Overseas: Everything You Need to Know to Live Well (for Less) Abroad.” She said 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 wrote.
Indeed, the number of American retirees living elsewhere is rising, according to the US State Department, which says 8.7 million Americans are living abroad. It projects that number 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 federal government. But Stevens said those numbers are likely undercounted.
Most Americans are retiring to places where US currency is welcome and retirement budgets work, according to a travel expert who has written for numerous publications.
Peddicord said that living abroad can start as a financial move but often becomes something more meaningful.
“For many, the decision begins with a concern that their retirement nest egg may not be big enough to carry them through,” she said.
But she added that “every retiree I’ve known who has taken the bold, brave leap and moved to a foreign country has come to realize that the real benefit isn’t the reduced cost of living but the enhanced quality of life.”