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Retiring Overseas: Here’s What You Should Know

Retiring Overseas: Here’s What You Should Know

Prior to COVID-19, the number of Aussies retiring overseas from Australia was on the rise with a 47% increase over the past decade. It’s a trend that’s expected to pick-up post COVID-19 pandemic.

What are the most popular destinations for Australian retirees?

Most migrate to New Zealand, Italy, Greece and Spain, with other attractive countries including Panama, Portugal, Malaysia and Thailand.

What’s causing this trend?

Overseas retirement seems to be driven by the pursuit of value-for-money retirement prospects. Many retirees seek affordable destinations that offer a superior standard of living.

Advantages of Retiring Overseas for Australians

As living costs surge and Australian retirement savings encounter challenges, numerous retirees are turning their gaze toward affordable yet high-quality destinations abroad. The idea of affordable international living is a major consideration driving people to retire abroad.

Cost of Living

Retiring overseas presents a more economical cost of living compared to Australia, especially in regions like Southeast Asia and South America.

These destinations often offer lower expenses on housing, food, and entertainment, enabling overseas retirees on fixed incomes to extend their savings and relish a higher standard of living. Furthermore, some countries offer special retirement visa programs with tax incentives, easing the cost burden.

According to the search results, the cost of living for retirees in Australia is high, especially in urban areas. To compare the cost of living for Aussie retirees in other countries, we can use the Cost of Living Index by Country 2023 Mid-Year provided by Numbeo:

The Cost of Living in Australia compared to popular retirement destinations

Based on these rankings, it appears that the cost of living for retirees in New Zealand, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Southeast Asia is generally lower than in Australia.

However, the actual cost of living can vary depending on factors such as location, lifestyle, and individual circumstances.

Lifestyle and Climate

Some of the top destinations for Aussies to retire offer a combination of factors such as lower cost of living, pleasant climate, beautiful landscapes, and rich cultures, which can contribute to a more relaxed and fulfilling retirement experience.

New Zealand: Close to home with stunning landscapes, from the beaches to the Alps. No visa required for Australians to live, work, and retire. A similar healthcare system and shared cultural ties make the transition easy.

Bali, Indonesia: With its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, and rich culture, Bali has long been a favourite for Australian expats. The cost of living is relatively low, allowing retirees to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle.

Thailand: Affordable healthcare, a low cost of living, and stunning destinations like Chiang Mai and Phuket make Thailand attractive. The country is also renowned for its food and friendly locals.

Portugal: English is widely spoken, the cost of living is low, and the country offers modern amenities. The Algarve region, in particular, is known for its pleasant climate and picturesque coastline.

Malaysia: The MM2H program offers long-term visas for retirees. Penang is a favourite retirement destination for Aussie seniors, providing a mix of cultural experiences and a lower cost of living.

Italy: Sicily offers an idyllic Mediterranean setting for retirees to enjoy. The island is known for its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and delicious cuisine.

Keep in mind that each country has different requirements for visas and application procedures, so before making any decisions, make sure you’ve done your homework.

Healthcare Options

Quality healthcare services are pivotal for retirees, and many overseas destinations provide excellent healthcare at notably lower costs than Australia.

According to the Tenterfield Star, Malaysia has one of the best healthcare systems in the Southern Hemisphere, with low rates for all Malaysian citizens and expats alike, as well as specialty healthcare programs designed to provide additional support for rural areas.

Thailand also offers affordable healthcare, with access to specialists and wellness programs becoming standard offerings in retirement communities.

In Portugal, English is widely spoken, and the country offers modern amenities, including state-of-the-art medical and healthcare facilities.

New Zealand has publicly funded medical services similar to Australia, making the transition easy for retirees.

It’s important to note that the aged care service provided by the Australian government is a mature and evolving service, with good continuity of care between hospital and community.

While the availability of quality healthcare services may vary depending on the destination, retirees can research and compare healthcare systems to make informed decisions about their retirement destination.

Key Considerations Before Retiring Overseas

Before retiring overseas, Australians should consider several key factors to ensure a smooth transition. These considerations are crucial for Australians planning to retire overseas when making informed decisions.

What factors should Australians consider before retiring overseas?

Legal and Visa Requirement

Before retiring overseas, it’s essential to research the legal and visa requirements for each destination. Here are the visa requirements and residency regulations for popular retirement destinations:

New Zealand: New Zealand offers a 1-year trial visa for Australians, allowing them to live and work in the country. After completing the trial period, it’s possible to apply for a 2-year visa or permanent residence.

Bali, Indonesia: Australian tourists can enter Bali for up to 30 days without a visa, but for longer stays, a Social/Cultural Visa is required. This visa allows for a stay of up to 60 days and can be extended for an additional 60 days.

Thailand: For longer stays, a Non-Lucrative Visa is required, which allows for a stay of up to one year and can be renewed annually. Retirees must provide proof of sufficient financial means to cover costs such as everyday living expenses during their stay.

Portugal: Portugal offers a Non-Lucrative Visa for retirees, allowing them to live in the country. The visa can be extended for up to 5 years, after which it may be possible to apply for permanent residency.

Malaysia: Malaysia has a variety of visa options for retirees, including the MM2H program, which offers long-term visas for retirees. Penang is a popular destination for Aussie seniors, providing a mix of cultural experiences and a lower cost of living.

Italy: Italy offers a 1-year Schengen visa for retirees, which can be extended for additional 1-year periods. The visa allows retirees to live in Italy and access its healthcare system.

A Non-Lucrative Visa is a type of visa that allows individuals to live in a foreign country without engaging in any gainful activities. This type of visa is often used by retirees who have sufficient financial means to support themselves without working.

For example, in Spain, the Non-Lucrative Visa is issued to non-EU citizens who want to move to Spain and have the financial means to support themselves and their dependents without participating in gainful activities.

The visa allows for a stay of up to one year, which can be renewed annually for up to five years.

To be eligible for the Spain Retirement Visa, applicants must show that they have a total amount of €27,115.20 per year or a guaranteed monthly income of €2,259.53. Additionally, they must show an additional amount of €6,778 for each family member they plan to bring along.

It’s important to research the visa requirements and residency regulations for each destination, as they may vary depending on the country. Additionally, it’s highly recommended to seek help from a financial adviser and consider the cost of living, personal healthcare requirements, and cultural factors before making a decision.

Financial Planning and Tax Implications

Detailed financial planning is crucial for Australians retiring overseas. Understanding the tax implications of retirement overseas is essential, as it can impact pensions, superannuation, and tax liabilities. Here are some key points to consider:

Superannuation and Tax Implications

When retiring overseas, Australians need to consider the tax implications for their superannuation. While superannuation income or lump-sum payments might be tax-exempt in Australia, this may not be the case in the country of residence overseas.

It’s important to understand the tax laws in both Australia and the destination country to avoid double taxation.

Age Pension

Australians may still be eligible for their Age Pension entitlement if they retire overseas, but their social security payments may change depending on their situation.

For example, if they leave Australia for more than six weeks, their Pension Supplement may drop to the basic rate, and their Energy Supplement may stop. It’s important to check with Services Australia and be aware of these changes and plan accordingly.

Health Insurance

Access to good quality public or private healthcare in the country of retirement is crucial. Australians should consider whether they can afford international health insurance with provisions for repatriation to Australia or other quality health insurance. The risks of not having adequate health insurance are too high to ignore.

Cost of Living

Research and compare the cost of living in potential retirement destinations to ensure that it aligns with your financial plans. Some destinations may offer a lower cost of living, allowing retirees to stretch their funds further.

Financial Advice

Seeking financial advice before retiring overseas is strongly recommended. A financial planner can provide guidance on managing tax liabilities, accessing superannuation, and making the most of retirement funds in an international setting.

Currency Exchange and Banking

Retiring overseas as an Australian involves several important financial considerations. These include currency exchange rates, managing finances across borders, and selecting appropriate banking solutions. Here are some key points to consider:

Currency Exchange

When retiring overseas, managing currency exchange rates is crucial. It’s important to avoid selling foreign currency low and buying Australian dollars high. Understanding and managing Australian taxation on foreign currency gains is also essential.

Managing Finances Across Borders

Managing finances across international borders requires careful planning. This includes understanding the implications for your super and tax. If you remain an Australian resident for tax purposes, you’ll typically be taxed on your global income from all sources, whereas foreign residents are only taxed on their Australian-sourced income. It’s also important to consider access to superannuation, taxation of superannuation, and the potential implications for the Age Pension.

Selecting Appropriate Banking Solutions

Selecting the right banking solutions is vital for retirees living overseas. This includes ensuring access to funds, managing international transactions, and considering the most cost-effective and convenient banking options for your specific location and financial needs.

Retiring overseas without a clear understanding of the finances of living abroad in retirement can be difficult.

Rather than regret one’s decisions later on, it is important for retirees to seek advice from financial and tax professionals to ensure that they have a sound financial plan in place and can navigate the complexities of international retirement.

What Happens to My Superannuation?

When retiring overseas, Australians need to consider the implications for their superannuation. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Access to Superannuation

Australians cannot access their super unless they meet the normal conditions of release, or if they are moving to New Zealand, which allows them to transfer their super to a local account.

There is no provision to simply transfer superannuation overseas, except with the narrow exception of transfers to New Zealand and into KiwiSaver accounts.

Taxation of Superannuation

While super pensions and lump sums are generally tax-free for retirees once they turn 60, some countries may levy tax on their income or ‘wealth’.

Australians should seek professional tax advice in advance of any permanent or long-term move overseas to establish how any income will be taxed.


Retiring overseas raises pertinent questions about managing superannuation funds. Australians have choices including whether to retain their superannuation pension income in an Australian bank account or transfer it to international funds, each with its unique tax implications and eligibility criteria.

For citizens or permanent residents, accessing super usually aligns with standard release conditions, except for relocation to New Zealand, enabling transfer to a local account. While tax-free for retirees over 60, other countries might impose income or wealth taxes.

Transferring overseas, except to New Zealand’s KiwiSaver, is generally restricted. Tax implications on super income or lump sums vary by location, necessitating professional tax advice pre-retirement.

To put it simply, Australian residents retiring abroad must consider the benefits of leaving super in Australia, foreign transfers, and access choices. Understanding residency, visa restrictions, tax implications, and living expenses is critical.

Can I Get the Pension Overseas?

To receive the Australian Age Pension while living overseas, individuals must meet certain eligibility criteria and follow the necessary process. Here are the key points to consider:

Eligibility and Process

Residence: To be eligible for the Age Pension, individuals need to be a resident of Australia or a country that has an International Social Security Agreement (ISS) with Australia.

Claiming: If residing outside Australia, individuals typically need to return to Australia to claim the pension and remain in the country for at least two years before proceeding overseas.

Reporting: It’s important to report income and any changes in circumstances while overseas to ensure continued eligibility for the pension.

Payment Considerations

Rate Changes: The Age Pension payment rate may change when leaving Australia, depending on the individual’s situation.

Income and Assets Tests: The income and assets tests also apply to pensioners living overseas. The pension amount is subject to these tests, and individuals with income or assets above the threshold limits may receive only a part pension.

Proportional Rate: Australian pensions paid overseas are paid at a proportional rate reflecting the length of residence in Australia. For example, a person with 20 years of working life residence would receive 20/35ths of an Australian pension rate.

Impact on Pension Amount

Social Security Agreements: For claims made since 1 July 2014, a person with 35 years of residence during working life can be paid a full pension, subject to the means test. With less than 35 years, the rate is worked out on a proportional basis.

Payment Duration: The payment may stop if individuals return to Australia to live, start getting the Age Pension after returning, or travel outside Australia during the next 2 years after returning.

To sum up, individuals planning to retire overseas and receive the Australian Age Pension need to carefully consider the eligibility criteria, reporting requirements, and potential impacts on the pension amount, including rate changes and income/assets tests. It’s advisable to seek specific guidance from Centrelink or relevant authorities to ensure a clear understanding of the process and requirements.

Can I Access My Super Overseas?

Australians planning to retire overseas can access their superannuation funds, but there are certain conditions, regulations, and potential tax implications to consider. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP): If you worked in Australia on a temporary visa and meet specific conditions, you can withdraw your super as a DASP after leaving Australia. You must make your claim within six months of leaving Australia and can apply through the ATO’s online application system or by downloading and posting a paper application form.

Eligibility: To access your superannuation, you must meet the relevant eligibility criteria, such as turning 65, reaching your preservation age and retiring, or under the transition to retirement rules while continuing to work.

Tax Implications: The tax treatment of your superannuation withdrawal depends on several factors, including your residency status and the tax laws of the country you are retiring to. In some cases, you may be able to withdraw a lump sum directly from a foreign super fund without paying tax if certain conditions are met.

Transferring Superannuation Overseas: If you are migrating permanently to another country, such as New Zealand, you may be able to transfer your Australian superannuation to a foreign superannuation scheme, like the New Zealand KiwiSaver scheme.

Continuing Superannuation Contributions: If you are working for an Australian employer internationally, they may still be required to make Superannuation Guarantee payments into your account. Australia has bilateral social security agreements with several countries to avoid double superannuation coverage.

Before leaving Australia, it is recommended to gather all necessary information and start your DASP application while still in the country. This will make it easier to certify documents and ensure a smoother process.

Expert Advice: Before You Retire Overseas

Seeking advice from legal and financial experts specialising in international retirement planning is valuable for Australian retirees for several reasons.

When retiring abroad, Australians need to consider various factors such as access to superannuation, tax implications, currency fluctuations, and international health insurance.

A financial planner can provide guidance on these complex issues and help retirees make informed decisions.

Additionally, legal experts can assist with understanding the legal and regulatory requirements in the country of retirement, ensuring compliance with local laws, and protecting the retirees’ interests.

Overall, seeking advice from specialists in international retirement planning can help Australian retirees navigate the complexities of retiring abroad and make the most of their retirement savings and social security benefits.


The advantages of retiring overseas include a more economical cost of living, pleasant climate, beautiful landscapes, and rich cultures.

However, before retiring overseas, Australians should consider several key factors to ensure a smooth transition, such as legal and visa requirements, financial planning, tax implications, and personal healthcare requirements.

Seeking advice from a financial adviser and tax professional is strongly recommended to ensure that retirees have a sound financial plan in place and can navigate the complexities of international retirement.

It is also important to research the visa requirements and residency regulations for each destination, as they may vary depending on the country.

Overall, individuals who are approaching retirement and plan on moving overseas should carefully evaluate their personal circumstances and seek professional advice before making any decisions.

Plan Your Retirement with Central Coast Financial Planning Group 

Retirement is a significant life milestone that allows you to rest and enjoy the fruits of your hard-earned labour. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all plan, and since everyone has specific needs and wants, hiring an expert retirement adviser can help you plan a secure and comfortable retirement.

If you want to enjoy retirement with peace of mind knowing there is a financial strategy to take care of the future, speak to the team at Central Coast Financial Planning Group. We help our clients enjoy their dream retirement through personalised financial advice.

Call us or book online to secure your consultation today!



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