Retiring abroad is a dream for many Brits, but sometimes the financial implications and potential drop in care provisions can be off putting. Thankfully, there are many countries around the world that combine an idyllic retirement environment with a stable economy and a welfare system that can put any retiree’s mind at ease.
We have put together a list of some of the top countries to retire to if you are looking for low taxes, a great healthcare system and an overall retirement experience that will leave your friends and family queuing to visit.
Boasting beautiful, long beaches and a tropical climate that draws expats from across the globe, Costa Rica is an ideal retirement destination for those looking for somewhere truly special. Knowledge of Spanish will help you settle in, but the growing expat population here means it is not essential for those who are just arriving.
Living costs are also reasonable, particularly when it comes to healthcare. Larger cities in particular deliver good quality healthcare for low prices, making them attractive to older expats seeking the security of a reliable medical system. To top it all off, Costa Rica also has a taxation policy in place that means retirees will not have foreign income taxed, reducing the financial responsibilities of British expats seeking a new life in this exotic paradise.
France is a popular retirement spot for Britons, being situated within touching distance of the UK but still providing a change of pace for those requiring it. It also offers a sense of familiarity to retirees, many of whom have journeyed across the pond frequently throughout their lives. Unfortunately, Brexit has resulted in the loss of automatic rights for British expats, so you will be required to go through the residency application process.
In spite of this, France has a lot to offer retirees. In terms of taxes, one of the biggest bonuses is that anyone taking out their pension pot as a single lump sum will pay just 7.5 per cent tax, with a 10 per cent tax-free allowance. In addition, while French tax laws can be complicated, there is a range of allowances and discounts on offer that make it significantly more viable for expats.
The healthcare system in France is another big plus. The majority of healthcare fees are reimbursed through state insurance, particularly if you are over the age of 65. The medical system in France is also particularly high quality, offering excellent standards of care to long-term citizens and expats alike.
Cyprus is a popular retirement destination for British expats, delivering an idyllic Mediterranean culture and atmosphere while remaining within easy distance of loved ones in the UK. The island is rich with both Greek and Turkish culture, offering beautiful beaches and numerous historic attractions that could keep any retiree busy day after day.
When it comes to taxes, the double tax treaty that exists between the UK and Cyprus prevents excessive taxation on any retirement earnings or income. As a Cyprus tax resident you will have the option of either paying a fixed tax rate of 5 per cent on your pension income per year or paying tax via the country’s tiered income tax system.
The country has a growing reputation for providing an ideal environment for expat retirement, boasting a low cost of living, low crime rate and widespread use of the English language. Britons are welcomed with open arms in Cyprus, and even the healthcare system is easily accessible. Not long introduced, the high quality healthcare system is based on contributions from residents and is free to users subject to an annual cap.
Another European retirement destination that offers easy access to the UK, Bulgaria is an increasingly popular option for those seeking a cheap but picturesque retirement. From beautiful beaches to popular ski resorts, there are activities on offer all year round that are sure to keep even the most active expat busy.
Healthcare is another bonus for those seeking to retire in Bulgaria, being both state-funded and universally available to all who have residency. When it comes to taxes, pensions for British expats are taxed at a flat rate of 10 per cent — well below the 20 to 40 per cent tax rate in the UK. The Bulgarian government also offer a tax-free allowance of €4,050 per year, so your retirement earnings can go even further.
The Dominican Republic
From beaches and golf courses to tropical weather and a low cost of living, the Dominican Republic is a Caribbean paradise that’s certainly worth considering if you plan on retiring to somewhere truly special. One of the country’s main draws is its beautiful coastline, but it also boasts a culture and history that makes it a truly special place to call home.
Thanks to a now stable political system, the healthcare across the country is going from strength to strength, being both high quality and affordable. Pension income is also tax-exempt, significantly reducing tax implications for British expats. While the expat community here is growing rapidly, it is still recommended that you get a good grasp of Spanish before making a move to this far-flung retirement haven.
One of the most highly rated retirement hotspots for Britons, Malta combines a sense of familiarity and historic connections to the UK with a beautiful climate and stunning beaches. The country also offers a low crime rate and a high proportion of English-speaking residents, making it easy for expats to adjust to their new life.
Malta is ideal for British expats when it comes to taxes, offering a retirement programme that will see you benefit from a flat rate of 15 per cent on any income you remit to Malta. A double taxation agreement also means that UK citizens do not have their pension taxed in the UK, so you will only have to pay Malta’s 15 per cent tax rate. When it comes to healthcare, Malta offers a healthcare system that is free at the point of delivery and offers the same level of care to locals and expats alike. UK retirees are also entitled to receive free treatment in the UK if preferable — a unique system when compared with other options for retirement locations.
Turkey may be best known for providing cheap yet exotic holidays, but it is also rapidly becoming one of the most popular retirement spots for Brits seeking a new life abroad. Key to its success is the low cost of living, which is aided by the zero per cent tax rate that expats pay on their pension income in Turkey.
In case that wasn’t enough to tempt you, Turkey offers a strong healthcare system that allows expats to join after just one year of residency for a small fee. Once you have joined, you will receive the same access to the public healthcare system as the locals. In order to retire to Turkey, British expats will need to demonstrate their income and apply for a residence permit. However, any hoops you will be required to jump through are a small price to pay for a new life in this warm, relaxed and friendly country.
Taking the first step
Before you make a decision about where you wish to retire and take your first step towards expat life, it is important to take a closer look at your finances. Consider contacting an independent financial advisor who has expertise in the country you wish to move to. They will be able to guide you as you explore your retirement options and will offer detailed advice on the taxes you will be subject to when you move to your new home.