Since Brexit, the idea of relocating overseas for retirement might seem a little daunting. The good news is that there are plenty of EU and non-EU countries that offer excellent retirement schemes, as well as low living costs and fantastic weather.
Bethany Hemsley from Smart Currency Exchange shares her top five places to retire abroad in 2022.
There are currently around 12,000 UK nationals living in Malta, which is hardly surprising when the country enjoys approximately 3,000 hours of sunshine a year – just about the highest in Europe!
The cost of living is affordable too, with basic utilities being around 50% cheaper in Malta than in the UK according to Numbeo. Properties are also cheaper to both rent and buy.
The low taxes are a major attraction of Malta. Not only is there a double-tax treaty, meaning you only pay tax in one country, but you also won’t pay inheritance tax, gift tax or wealth tax. Stamp duty is also just 5%.
British citizens wanting to live in Malta long-term will need a visa. However, Malta has several attractive residency schemes including the Golden Visa which requires one of the smallest investments in Europe.
Unlike many others, you can obtain the Golden Visa if you are renting a property. The overall cost for this route would be €135,000. Alternatively, you can purchase a property for the value of €300,000 but there are other costs on top of this.
There is also a retirement scheme which enables retirees to receive special tax status through the Malta Retirement Programme.
In terms of healthcare, it is generally very good with both public and private options. British retirees may be able to qualify for state healthcare paid for by the UK using an S1 form, or you can opt for private health insurance which is fairly cheap compared to many countries.
France has a lot to offer retirees. Not only is it just an easy hop across the channel but property prices are exceptional value for money, the landscape is truly stunning and, according to the World Health Organization, the healthcare system is the best in the world!
What’s more, British retirees who receive a UK state pension can access this excellent healthcare system for free. All you need to do is fill in an S1 form.
As well as this, the lifestyle is laid-back, sociable and centred around quality time with family. France likes to stick to its old traditions, such as keeping lunchtime sacred (many shops and offices still close between 12–2pm). There is less of a feeling of being in a rat race, even in major towns and cities, and especially in small towns and villages.
Post-Brexit, British citizens wishing to retire to France will need to apply for a retirement visa. To do this, you will need to prove that you have a minimal income of around €1,200 per month (which is the minimum wage in France). However, in certain circumstances, savings are also accepted.
On the other side of the world entirely, and somewhere you may not have considered retiring to, is Malaysia. Regularly ranking as one of the best places to retire abroad, you’ll find many expat communities dotted across the country.
Offering a unique and beautiful combination of modern cities, unspoilt rainforests and paradisal beaches it really is a great option.
Malaysia have made it incredibly easy for foreigners to retire there with the Malaysia My 2nd Home Visa (MM2H). This visa gives you 10 years of residency and unlike the Thai and Philippine retirement visas, you can leave and re-enter Malaysia freely without having to report your immigration each year.
If you are over 50, you must prove that you have a monthly income of RM10,000 (about £1,850), liquid assets of RM350,000 (about £65,000) and deposit RM150,000 (about £33,000) in a bank in Malaysia.
Almost everyone in Malaysia speaks English as it is their first business language so you should have no trouble communicating while you’re out there. Some good places to settle include the vibrant cities of Kuala Lumpur and George Town, the chilled-out beach town of Kota Kinabalu and the beautiful cities of Penang, Ipoh and Kuching.
Another exotic retirement destination is Panama. According to Business Insider, Panama was nominated as one of the most popular countries to retire to in 2020. With great connections to the United States, Panama offers retirees a truly idyllic and sophisticated lifestyle.
The low cost of living is another major appeal for many expats. Foreign residents do not pay any tax on foreign earned income — including pensions and any other funds set up outside of Panama. Your day-to-day life would also be cheaper than in the UK. You could eat at a nice restaurant in the glamourous Panama City for around £17 for two people.
Interestingly, Panama’s retirement visa – known as the Pensionado visa – is available to anyone with a life-long pension. This means that you do not actually need to be of retirement age, you just need to provide evidence that you have a monthly lifetime pension.
The government also offers foreign retirees’ special benefits such as a one-off duty exemption for importing household goods to a value of $10,000 and duty exemption for importing a new car.
Healthcare varies across the country; however, private healthcare is very affordable, starting from as little as £30 a month for basic coverage.
People have been choosing to retire in Portugal for decades and its popularity shows no sign of waning. The Algarve, in particular, is a favourite among retirees due to its great weather, stunning beaches and excellent range of activities, including some world-class golf courses.
There are several visa options available to retirees. The Portuguese Golden Visa is one of the best and most flexible in the world. By investing in the country, most commonly by purchasing a property worth €500,000, you will receive five years of residency as well as an opportunity to apply for permanent residency and citizenship. The best thing about this visa, though, is that you only have to stay in Portugal for a minimum of seven days a year.
Another excellent option is the D7 residence permit which allows you to live in Portugal and travel freely within the EU. To qualify, you will need to show evidence of an income that is comparable to the Portuguese minimum wage (€635 per month), but this can be a pension!
Portugal also offers a Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) which allows retirees to benefit from just 10% tax on their pension. This is highly desirable as the usual Portuguese income tax can be high, ranging from 14.5% to 48%.
This article was written by Bethany. Bethany is a specialist writer on buying overseas property, emigration and personal finance. As well as being a homeowner in Spain herself, Bethany has worked extensively with international estate agents, property lawyers and payments specialists.
Millie is a perfectionist with a passion for property and writing articles. You’ll find her researching the latest housing trends and the newest up and coming areas worth investing in. Read more about Millie here.