How to Retire Abroad Early

There are few dreams more compelling than the thought of retiring abroad early, to a faraway place, where you can spend the prime of your life having adventures and relaxing on sunnier shores.

Retiring abroad can be a great way to ensure your retirement money stretches further, allowing you to take advantage of a lower cost of living and a pace of life that will let you make the most of your golden years.

Of course, being able to retire abroad early is no mean feat. It requires razor-sharp control of your finances and plenty of insider knowledge about how to take advantage of existing schemes and infrastructures aimed toward foreign retirees.

Here are the top pro tips for anyone interested in early retirement abroad.

Retiring Abroad Early – How to Make It Happen

a couple retiring abroad

1. Invest in Income-Producing Assets

Enjoying a stress-free retirement abroad is easier to achieve when you know you will have steady income streams after you have stopped working.

Remember: It is always better to rely on more than just your pension pot or 401K.

Real estate is undoubtedly one of the best ways to shore up your future income. Investing in a property that you can reliably rent out for years to come will ensure that you have a crucial safety net.

You can also consider investing in low-risk stock portfolios or buying up treasury bonds.

The goal is to ensure that you are making your existing money work for you rather than just letting it sit in a bank.

2. Pay Your Mortgage Off Quickly

The number one obstacle to your dream retirement in sunny Spain or Mexico is likely to be your existing mortgage.

If you want to set yourself free and increase your long-term financial security, you will want to pay off your mortgage as soon as possible.

You may want to consider remortgaging your house. By doing so you may get more favorable repayment terms or shorter-term times that will see you pay less in interest over the lifespan of the mortgage. You can start this process for free by using an online mortgage advisor service to negotiate a possible remortgage deal that best suits your ambitions to retire abroad early. Such advice can lead to significant monthly savings that will work towards your goal.

I managed to pay off my mortgage well ahead of schedule by saving as much as I could and making an extra mortgage payment several times a year. Now I’ve moved to Spain and rent out my property which generates a steady income every month.

3. Choose Your Country Wisely

Calpe's beach on Spain's Costa Blanca
Moving to Spain to retire abroad

Many people want to retire abroad to a place where they have happy memories. Perhaps from studying abroad in college or taking a memorable vacation there.

While this is all well and good, it is not smart for this to be your primary motivating factor when choosing a destination. You may have had a great vacation in Norway, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is one of the most expensive countries to live in, with very restrictive policies for foreign retirees.

Always look at the cost of living and the barriers to residency for any country you are considering. Many of the best retirement destinations have the lowest costs of living and the most favorable visa requirements, so look at these first.

Once you’ve decided on a country or created a shortlist of countries, find out as much about life here as you can.

Join Facebook groups for expats or retirees in the country of your choice. Or search for relevant forums. These groups and forums are filled with useful information and people willing to answer any questions you may have about retiring abroad.

And ideally, of course, visit the country a few times before you make the move to get a real feel for what life will be like here.

4. Take Advantage of Schemes for Retirees

As mentioned, there are initiatives and schemes available designed specifically for people like you who want to live the dream of retiring abroad early.

For example, countries such as Portugal, a rapidly-growing retiree hotspot, operate a Non-Habitual Residency Scheme that allows retirees to live there without paying any taxes at all for the first ten years.

Similar such schemes abound in every corner of the globe, with Costa Rica, France, Italy, Mexico, and Malaysia all having their own incentive schemes for retirees wishing to bring themselves and their cash to their shores.

Tip: Spain offers an easy to obtain visa for retirees called the non-lucrative Visa. My friend Duane moved to Spain from Canada on this visa. He created this practical eBook describing exactly how to obtain it.

5. Count Every Penny

A primary motivation for many people who retire abroad early is the opportunity to enjoy a much lower cost of living than would ever be possible in their home country.

However, this is not a free pass to spend freely as soon as you arrive at your dream destination. You will want to be certain that you can actually afford to live out the best years of your life in the country of your choosing, which means careful budgeting and accounting for every cost.

Use an online calculator to figure out how much you will need to cover the housing, healthcare, leisure, utilities, travel, and administrative costs of the country you wish to move to. Once you know this, you can start to plan effectively. is a useful website that gives information about the cost of living in different countries.

6. Don’t Forget Healthcare

There’s no denying the fact that healthcare is one of the most important considerations you will have to factor with when choosing a retirement destination.

You will need to ensure that you can obtain affordable health insurance for your destination of choice and that you will be able to access the public health systems as a retiree, which you are increasingly likely to need the older you get.

Also, make sure to do thorough research on the healthcare systems and infrastructures of any country you are considering. Some countries have poor-quality healthcare that you will not want to deal with should something go wrong.

Again, using Facebook groups and forums is a great way to get information from others who have already retired abroad and faced all the situations you will be facing.

Retiring Abroad Successfully

a cocktail on the beach

These are the essential tips for anyone wishing to retire abroad early.

And yes, it requires some saving, planning, and perhaps a few years of frugal living, but if you go into things properly prepared, you will be able to realize your dream!

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Sanne Wesselman

Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing.
I spend most of my time living and working abroad and use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.

2 thoughts on “How to Retire Abroad Early”

  1. Great write-up, Sanne! These 6 points cover all the basics very nicely. It does take a lot of upfront work to retire abroad early, but, for the right person, the rewards are priceless! Highly recommended!

  2. Excellent article. Remember as well that your pension from the the country you have left may well be taxable in the country you go to. My British Telecom pension from the UK is taxed here in Spain but my Police UK pension is not taxed, as Spain does not tax government pensions. Also, try not to rely on your pension coming through every month as it will vary with currency exchange rates. Better to be able to manage when you can and when the exchange rate is favourable, transfer over a lump sum. For this reason, it’s always good to keep a couple of bank accounts open in the country you have left.


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