5 Countries That Offer Retirement Visas to Americans

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Retirees in Thailand at the Ko Samui temple
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Living abroad can be an attractive and affordable way to spend retirement.

And many countries offer visas specifically for American retirees. While often temporary, they are usually the start of a pathway to permanent residence.

There are certainly potential challenges to retiring abroad, including dealing with taxes, assuring you’ll have access to health care and possibly differences in language. But it can also be a unique adventure for the next chapter in your life.

Following are a handful of countries that are relatively friendly to American retirees, along with some basic information about the process of getting a retirement visa in each.

1. Panama

Panama City, Panama
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Panama is a narrow country at the southern tip of Central America, guaranteeing you’re never too far from ocean views regardless of where you call home. Its area is slightly smaller than South Carolina.

Aside from its famous canal, the Spanish-speaking country is known for having one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America and having an active expat community in the mountain town of Boquete.

You’ll need to obtain an immigration lawyer in Panama to submit your visa application and a health certificate issued by a doctor in Panama. Other requirements include an income of at least $1,000 per month, an FBI background check, a certified birth certificate and a valid passport.

This program, known as Panama Pensionado, comes with all kinds of service and entertainment discounts as well as an exemption for the import tax on household goods and new cars.

For more information: Embassy of Panama

2. Belize

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This English-speaking country on the Caribbean coast of Central America is home to Mayan ruins, jungle wilderness and the second-largest barrier reef in the world.

Its Qualified Retirement Program is open to people age 45 or older with an income of at least $2,000 per month who pass a security check. The program requires you to spend at least 30 consecutive days per year in Belize, but you’re free to gallivant around Central America the rest of the year.

The program comes with some benefits, including tax exemptions on income, capital gains and inheritance; import tax exemptions on personal property, cars, boats and aircraft; and the ability to purchase land or a home.

For more information: Belize Tourism Board

3. Indonesia

Bali Indonesia
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The archipelago of Indonesia is home to about 276 million people, making it the fourth-most populous country in the world. What’s one more?

The country, which has its own language, offers one-year renewable retirement visas. You’ll need to find a sponsorship travel agent in Indonesia to apply. Other requirements include proof of income and a place to stay, life insurance, health insurance and liability insurance. It is possible to acquire a permanent stay visa known as the KITAP after four years.

For more information: Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia

4. The Philippines

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The Philippines is another Asian island nation that welcomes American retirees. English is one of the two official languages here.

To apply for the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa, you’ll need to be at least 50 years old and receive medical and police clearance. There are different paths to qualify. For the two most common, you’ll need to deposit at least $20,000 in a bank here or deposit $10,000 with proof of sufficient monthly pension income.

The visa grants benefits including a one-time import tax exclusion on personal effects worth up to $7,000, a number of discounts and health benefits.

For more information: Philippine Retirement Authority

5. Thailand

Traveler in Thailand
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Thailand’s famous temples, palaces and beaches could be yours to explore if you’re age 50 or older, the U.S. Embassy in Thailand says.

You’ll need proof of monthly retirement income equal to 65,000 baht, or about $1,800. Another option is to maintain at least 800,000 baht (more than $22,000) in a Thai bank. You’ll also need to complete a background check and receive medical approval.

For more information: Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs