Guide:
Retiree Visas

Retiree visas are offered by a number of countries around the world, often with pensioner benefits and other incentives. While retiree visas can oftern be temporary residence visas or permanent residence visa, they may offer a pathway to citizenship after a few years; a process that can be accelerated with property investment in most cases. All offer superior lifestyles with more spending power and the opportunity to live ones’ ‘dream life’ in retirement. The following list provides a brief overview of 10 of the most popular countries that offer Retiree Visas – from South and Central America to Europe and Asia.


Panama

An ideal option for retirees who enjoy nature and coastal living. Characterised by pristine beaches, islands and rainforests, Panama also offers a high standard of cosmopolitan living.

Benefits: Tax exemptions. The Panama Pensionado plan offers numerous pensioner discounts from 1 – 50% on everything from flights to health-care to movie tickets.

Process: Panama’s Pensionado Visa program offers permanent residence to anyone over 18 who can prove an income of min. USD 1000 per month (USD 1250 for a couple) – less 25% with a minimum investment of USD 100 000 in real estate. Applications must be made through an immigration attorney registered in Panama.

Taxes info: No taxes on pension or other global income.

Pros: Inexpensive, safe, mild tropical climate with no extreme weather events.

Cons: Increasing cost of living (though retiree benefits can more than make up for this)


Costa Rica

Another tropical paradise with rainforests and volcanic sand beaches, Costa Rica is named ‘The Rich Coast’ for its wealth of natural beauty. It is equally renowned for its ‘Pura Vida’ (Pure Life) culture and local lifestyles.

Benefits: Excellent but cheap government health-care, with private options. Mild and stable tropical climate. Established expat community with related infrastructure and services. Excellent spending power.

Process: ‘Pensionado Visa’ is available to anyone with a minimum life pension / retirement fund income of USD 1000

Taxes info: No taxes on pension or any other non-local income.

Pros: Low cost of living, healthcare infrastructure, and high standard of laid-back living.

Cons: Like any Central American country, things may be done a ‘little differently’ in Costa Rican time.


Nicaragua

‘The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes. Nicaragua is another nature-lovers paradise, with beautiful beaches, mountains, lush tropical forests. It’s also an explorer’s dream country – a melting pot of breath-taking scenery and cultures.

Benefits: Incentives include local sales tax exemptions for home construction & import duty exemptions on household goods. Offers maximum spending power for the best retirement lifestyle.

Process: If you are 45 or older with an out-of-country income of USD 600, you can apply for a retiree visa with Nicaragua’s Pensionado Program. Include family members at an extra USD 150 per month each.

Taxes info: No taxes on pension or other global income

Pros: Cost of living, good health-care

Cons: Corruption in governance, ‘Culture-shock’ factor – be prepared to learn Spanish at least.


Mexico

Mexico offers a magical blend of modern and diverse traditional cultures. Tropical coastlines offer resort-style or authentic coastal living, but there are as many lifestyle options as there are landscapes and micro-climates in Mexico.

Benefits: Free or very low-cost public healthcare along with several Gold Standard Hospitals. Excellent spending power for a vibrant retirement, making the most of the many active and festive experiences Mexico offers. Mild climate and amazing food.

Process: The Mexico Pensionado Visa is open to anyone with a minimum annual pension of USD 2000, or a min. of USD 85,000 in investment capital. (These figures can vary, as annual required income is tied to exchange rates and local minimum wages).

Taxes info: 15% withholding tax on pension income.

Pros: Low cost of living, proximity to the US, excellent healthcare options, low property prices and taxes, fantastic cuisine.

Cons: Corruption in governance can be a source of frustration.


Ecuador

Add Idyllic tropical beaches, Amazonian rainforests, magnificent Andean highlands, and the world-renowned Galapagos islands to beautiful colonial architecture and a melting pot of cultures – and you have Ecuador.

Benefits: Tax exemptions and pensioner programs offer significant savings – from flights to Public Health insurance on the retiree visa. Spending power is high, and there are endless choices between mountain and coastal living.

Process: The 9-1 Pensioner Visa is offered to anyone with a minimum life pension/retirement fund income of USD 800 per month.

Taxes info: No taxes on pension or any other global income.

Pros: Ideal for those who wish to spend their retirement exploring and adventuring between cheap cocktails in a hammock.

Cons: Developing economy – so expect a few ‘potholes and co.’


Argentina

One of the largest countries in the world, Argentina is a highly developed economy that still boasts vast undeveloped and natural areas. Retire in style in Buenos Aires or enjoy a retirement ‘away from it all’ in many remote locations – from Patagonian mountains to beach resorts.

Benefits: One of the best counties for ex-pat spending power in a developed nation after the devaluation of the Argentinian peso. You can also earn local income to supplement if you wish to.

Process: The Argentinian Pensionado Visa is open to anyone who can prove a pension or other foreign income of as little as USD 850 per month.

Taxes info: No taxes on pension or other global income.

Pros: You will be eligible for citizenship after only two years. The rich but very European culture is less of a “culture shock.”

Cons: Current tight limits on daily bank withdrawals.


Spain

Land of the Costa del Sol, the Flamenco, Tapas, Gothic architecture, and many other iconic cultural flavors.

Benefits: All the benefits of a first-world European country, including excellent health care.

Process: The Spanish ‘non-lucrative Visa’ is offered to retirees with at least €30 000 in the bank. Private health insurance is required.

Taxes info: Depending on the country of origin, foreign incomes are either fully or partially exempt from tax, taxed at a lower rate than that for citizens, or as investments – with contributions deducted from income.

Pros: Easy access to other Schengen countries, cheaper food prices from fresh-produce markets.

Cons: Higher cost of living, and you may not earn local income.


Malta

Malta is the largest island within a small archipelago in the Mediterranean. Known for medieval architecture hailing back to the Crusades, high-end Mid-island (with Superyachts) right through to rural and fishing lifestyles and economies.

Benefits: Retirees benefit from a number of pensioner discounts – from transport to health care.

Process: Maltese Retirement Programme (MRP) is open to non-employed, high-net-worth individuals who must receive a pension income directly into a Maltese bank account. Applications must be made through a registered Mandatory.

Taxes info: All foreign income, including pension, is subject to a 15% flat tax.

Pros: Excellent climate, health care, and the unique atmosphere of living on a small island, yet still close to the rest of Europe.

Cons: Only EU, EEA, or Swiss Nationals may apply.


Thailand

Hot, humid, and busy, Thailand has nevertheless been one of the world’s most popular destinations for ex-pat retirees, thanks to the very low cost of living, food, the many beautiful tropical islands, and lush nature.

Benefits: From Phuket to Bangkok, Thailand offers exotic, low-cost tropical islands or vibrant city living.

Process: *Thailand’s Retiree Visa is an extension of a ‘Non-Immigrant O Visa’ or ‘Non-Immigrant OA Visa’ called the ‘Extension of Stay Based on Retirement’. Available to anyone over 50 with a monthly income equal to 65,000 THB, along with a pre-application (by 60 days) security deposit of 800,000 THB. Must be renewed annually. A long stay version requires a 3 million THB security deposit and must be renewed every 5 years.

Taxes info: Global income is subject to local income tax regulations if you are resident for more than 180 days per year or if brought into Thailand in the same year it was earned.

Pros: As a trade hub and doorway to East Asia, ‘bucket list’ travel through the region is cheap and easy from Thailand.

Cons: Retirement visa holders must confirm their residential address to the Immigration Office every 90 days.

* Recent proposals to change visa requirements to include property ownership as a requirement.


Portugal

Boasting a world-famous Iberian coastline with some of Europe’s best beaches and options for coastal living, Portugal has always been rated as one of the best countries for retirees. However, recent changes in tax and property regulations put it last on this list.

Benefits: Excellent health care. Low cost of living compared to most other European countries. standard of living, scenery, old-world culture, and wines. Retiree Visa is a pathway to full residency.

Process: Retire in the Algarve with a Portuguese D-7 Retirement Visa to anyone with an annual income of €7.200 with an additional €3.600 for spouse or dependant adult, and €2.160 per child.

Taxes info: 10% tax on foreign pension income since 2020.

Pros: Affordable but high standard of living and a pathway to free movement in the EU for retirees from non-EU countries.

Cons: The increasing cost of living due to the influx of ex-pats

If you’re interested in retiring offshore, send us a note to [email protected] to discuss the available options for your case. Our team will be glad to assist you.


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