So you’re thinking of retiring overseas… 131



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There is a growing trend in Australia where retirees are heading off shore to make the most of cheaper living and more adventurous lifestyles. So have you considered it? It is a thought that is appealing to some and incredibly scary to others, but when you consider it all, it actually looks like a pretty good idea!

There has been a boom in expat retirement village construction in places like Bali, the Philippines and European countries. As the cost of living continues to rise and we have more and more restrictions on our capacity to enjoy life, these become great options for anyone who is willing to take that risk.

If you haven’t considered it or if you are, here is some extra information on some of the risk factors when heading overseas for retirement and how things work for Australian expats.



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, 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.


Would you consider retiring overseas? Or perhaps have you already done it? Tell us about it in the comments below…

Starts at 60 Writers

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

  1. Lived in Hong Kong for 17 years where medical treatment is very good,but home is where the heart is and Australia is a fantastic country.

  2. There are many reasons for people to live overseas. Currency variations are probably the most important. I cannot talk about Bali but here in Poland where I currently live (for family reasons) I gain a benefit from the currency/exchange rates and cost of living. In Poland the cost of living is significantly lower than Australia. A wage or pension of $1000 per month allows for a relaxed life style as the average wage in Poland is of that order ($1000/month)
    You like Norwegian salmon? $8 per kilo. Potatoes? 30 cents a kilo. Same with onions, pumpkin etc in season. Bananas at $1 per kilo and on it goes. Heating during freezing winters? $300/400 per month. The VAT tax scale is 23%, so there is give and take.
    The downside, and it is mentioned in the article, is taxation.
    If you are defined as a non-resident of Australia then the tax-free level may not apply and you will pay tax on your entire pension.
    Other problems may exist in relation to health coverage (there are countries which have reciprocal arrangements with Australia) but most countries do not.
    There are of course in-country problems apart from language. Driving licences, tourist versus residential visas, cultural differences and so on.
    If you decide to live overseas, my advice is to select a country with culture and laws similar to Australia so that you can integrate into the society.

  3. I am semi retired overseas in Bali 6 months here 6 months in Bali no more winter love it

    1 REPLY
    • I’ve been considering it. I just love Vietnam and think I’d like to live there, however since my marriage split up I’ve worked hard to develop a friend base and be part of the artistic community. I’d find it hard to leave that. The health facilities are great in big cities but a worry in the country.

  4. This picture is what I dream of……i certainly haven’t seen it in Australia… . I’m Australian and I personally think we are going downhill . dreams are fast becoming too hard almost impossible. I’ll die in a night mare.

    5 REPLY

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