Now could be the best time for you to retire overseas… So would you do it? 108



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Right now, the Aussie dollar is significantly lower than it has been in quite some time. The struggling economy and weak dollar means that things may continue to get more expensive here but cheaper overseas. The logical thing to do? Look for ways to make your dollar go further, and this could mean retiring overseas somewhere with a lower cost of living…

According to the Huffington Post, the cheapest places to retire well from around the world were Chiang Mai in Thailand, Cuenca in Ecuador and George Town in Malaysia. The countries with easiest residency included Colombia, Malaysia, Panama, Philippines and Thailand.

If you’re thinking about retiring overseas, here are some of the things you should know…



Whether you would like permanent residency or you are looking to timeshare between Australia and another country, there are plenty of options available. For example, in Bali, a popular retirement destination, you can live there as a resident or you can consider yourself on an “extended holiday” for six months of the year every year. For tax purposes, if you are a resident you are subject to Balinese tax laws however if you remain an Australian resident you are only subject to Australian tax laws.

In Australia, you can legally rent out your home for up to six years and you are generally able to consider it your principal place of residence. However, this is not the case for age pension eligibility.



The Australian age pension can be paid overseas for any amount of time. It is estimated that more than 70,000 Australian pensioners are living permanently overseas and receive their fortnightly payments. You must be an Australian resident when you apply for the pension however your seniors health card is cancelled once you have spent more than six weeks outside of Australia.

If you still own your family home, are renting it out and are living abroad, it is considered an asset for the pension eligibility test meaning you may only be able to receive a smaller amount. Generally, superannuation can be used as a pension regardless of where you are. However you need to be honest with your fund about your plans so they can help you to best manage your income.



Having full international health cover will always be a worthwhile investment. You never know what kind of emergency could occur and it is always best to be prepared for what may happen. If you are choosing to take out health insurance locally, then make sure you do your research and find an insurer with a strong reputation and a valuable suite of provisions.



It is scary, the idea of packing up your life and saying goodbye to your friends and family for a live overseas. But it is also a time for new beginnings. Some people fear that by retiring overseas they will feel incredible isolation, but the way communities are structured and retirement villages are available, you have so many opportunities to meet new people and make new friends. You just have to be open to the experience. Time sharing between your “home” and another country also means that you can still stay connected to the lives of family and friends – especially grandkids.

It is a daunting idea, but when you weigh up the costs of moving compared to the costs of living here in Australia, it becomes a very attractive offer. I think my ideal life would be time sharing between my home in Brisbane and a life overseas. That way I could still keep in touch with the grandkids and see my beautiful family and friends.


So tell us, have you considered retiring overseas or would you? Where would you like to go? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I wouldn’t. My daughter would hate that but I’d love to live in the lakes district in england where Amazon’s and swallows was made.

  2. For family reasons I live in Poland.

    I am classified as a ‘low income’ person in Australia; income in the $30,000 area, but here in Poland that translates into 100,000 Zloty in a country where the last time I checked the average wage was 2-3000 Zloty per month.
    My medical insurance for hospital and medical coverage is $150 per QUARTER, that is, full medical/hospital coverage for my wife and I for $600 per year. Sure there are waiting lists but usually far shorter than those I see in Australia. If not satisfied with national coverage then there is a parallel private medical/hospital system with a base cost of about $30-50 per visit to a specialist. My wife’s siblings return to Poland for medical and dental treatment as it is far more economic to pay return air fare and Polish fees than seek the same treatment in the UK… or Australia for that matter.

    If you are selective and are prepared to make a few sacrifices, you can live well on an Australian pension in some European countries- but you have to be selective and avoid the tourist traps.

    In Poland, as in most European countries there are 2 or 3 different economic options. The greatest cost is the tourist option… go to any restaurant and walk in the front door and sit at the table with the cloth, the candles, nice décor and understand that you are in the tourist section…. and you pay tourist prices.
    Walk further into the restaurant and you will come to an area where there are no cloths on the tables, no candles in wine bottles.. that is for the local tourists… and you pay a reduced price.
    Go further and you will find yourself in the back room with bench seats and trestle tables and if you can find a seat, you can sit down and eat with the locals….. at the local price.
    Of course the price changes as you move further into the restaurant, the wine gets cheaper and is delivered in cleanskins or carafes, there are no ‘touristy’ things, no decorations, no table service…just food and drink.
    Of course, if that is too expensive then go into the local corner shop or outdoor market (not the super-markets) and buy bread, sliced sausage, cheese and fruit.. that is even cheaper
    Accommodation? Current cost of flats is about $2000 per metre, so a 100 square metre apartment in the middle of Warsaw will set you back about $200.000 but in the provincial towns and cities the price drops dramatically. Our 3 hectare farm with its 4 buildings cost 72,000 Zloty ($24,000) but that was 15 years ago, however prices have not advanced that much. bargains are still available.
    Yes, cost of living in Poland is far cheaper than in Australia, but there are pluses and minuses. We miss our kids. We miss the social life, and some of the freedoms that Australians take for granted; but right now, seeing the turmoil that Australia is embroiled in, with muslim radicals, illegal migrants, polarising of the political, social and financial life in Australia, I recommend Poland, the Baltic states..
    even Bulgaria and Rumania as options for Australian low income pensioners.
    Of course with the lower cost of living there is the option to ‘holiday’ in Australia. My wife and I will be in Australia later this year. The quoted price for the air ticket is US$1300 return.
    Sounds good.
    Visit Australia in the European winter (November to march)

    1 REPLY
    • That was extremely interesting – thank you for all that info. I had never considered that retired people would be welcome in overseas countries. Maybe worth thinking about.

  3. It has crossed my mind just from a financial point of view,then my heart kicks in,and I couldn’t think of a better place to be than right here in this glorious country.

  4. I have been time sharing since 2002. Really enjoy even now that I am alone. A lot of people don’t understand, but it works well for me as I love both countries.

  5. We spent part of our retirement in thailand . You have no rights ! None , you cannot own a house , there are ways around it but see point one , you have no rights . Medical is good and affordable , if it goes wrong , you have no rights . Thai food is great but nothing like Australian version of Thai food , imported western food is expensive and poor quality . If you live outside of main cities , Chang Mai , Bangkok , culture that you know and enjoy is limited , but saying that it’s worth the effort to try it for a few years then come home when your homesick and fancy a meat pie

    3 REPLY
    • That isn’t quite correct. You can own a house, just not the land it sits on. You can own a condo. And you have no rights because you are a falang, a guest in their country.

    • Yes that is right Graeme what you have said,wish it was more like that here….Australian version of Thai food like many other countries is nothing like the real thing so much better over there,have been going there for about 30 years have done it all,we have Thai friends some classed as family they stay with us when out here…

    • It’s very hard to own a house without owning land ! Renting the land is possible but again you have to rights As for condos, well ,it’s not the purchase but the monthly outgoing that are very high even by Australian standards . My first visit to thailand was 1974 ,so yes I have seen many changes and falang only means foreigner !

  6. I have moved overseas to live and have made a very good choice but what you havent mentioned is every time our dollar gets lower we get less money to live on because of the exchange rate

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