5 Cheapest Places to Retire Abroad

A detailed examination of Shelter Offshore’s top five cheapest places to live abroad in retirement for would-be expatriates

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5 Cheapest Places to Retire AbroadWith the credit crunch biting, Christmas costing a fortune and banks being bailed out by the tax payer but still demanding more money, it seems that us Britons have to escape Great Britain if we want to avoid drowning in a sea of governmental and institutional debt!

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if we were the ones who had built up substantial arrears and liabilities – but because it is mainly the government and financial institutions that are dragging us down, the only way to escape the inevitable recession/depression is to escape UK!

British retirees are among the most active group in seeking a new life abroad where they can afford to have a decent standard of living, and so for pre-retirees and retirees seeking an affordable life overseas, here are the Shelter Offshore top 5 cheapest places to retire abroad!

1) Cyprus

Despite the fact that the Republic of Cyprus is now in the European Union and the Euro Zone, (i.e., its currency is the euro), it is our number one pick for Britons seeking an affordable place to retire overseas.  It charges a maximum of 5% income tax on pension income – meaning that it is far cheaper to live in Cyprus even with the pound buying fewer euros these days.  What’s more, property prices have been wintering something of a negative pricing adjustment in recent months as the nation has also been hit by the global effects of the credit crunch.  This means that it is cheaper now to buy property in Cyprus than it was just a year ago.  Mortgages are available on the island, it enjoys up to 300 sunny days annually, heating costs are therefore far lower, and all in all, with its strong expat and retirement communities, excellent quality and standard of living, we rate Cyprus as the number one cheap (ish) place to retire abroad.

2) Belize

For Britons who are willing to be a little more adventurous in their choice of overseas retirement destination, what about the tropical paradise that is Belize?  Formerly a British colony, English is widely spoken in Belize and therefore adjusting to life in this stunning nation is quite straightforward.  There is a retired person’s incentive programme in place too, this ensures that qualifying individuals pay no tax – that’s right, no tax at all – on their pension income as long as it is earned outside of Belize!  The quality of life in Belize is what you make it – i.e., you can spend whatever you want to buy the standard of living you want.  It has long been a popular retirement hotspot for in the know Americans, but until recently it was lesser explored by Britons.  All that is now changing as Brits are becoming far more active in seeking an affordable place to retire to.

3) Panama

Another tropical paradise that was an American favourite for a long time is Panama.  It too is now becoming more actively explored by Britons seeking a cheap place to live.  Property in Panama is very affordable compared to what Brits are used to, the cost of living is far cheaper than in the UK or our number one choice of Cyprus, English is the business language in Panama therefore it is widely used, and what’s more, any income earned outside of Panama can be remitted 100% free of tax!  Naturally this makes Panama a far cheaper place to live in at the moment than the UK.

4) Malaysia

If you fancy an even more exotic retirement destination what about Malaysia?  The country has an economic incentive programme to attract relatively affluent individuals to move there – entitled ‘Malaysia: My Second Home,’ the programme has tax benefits for example.  If you qualify for the programme you can move to Malaysia and your pension is tax free when remitted to the country.  Other benefits of retiring to Malaysia under the terms of the programme include the fact that you can own freehold property there, you can import a maid (?) and buy or import a car tax free!  The cost of living in Malaysia outside the main city areas is much cheaper than in the UK, and because of the climate, heating costs are a minimum.

5) France

This is not a tax advantageous nation to move to, especially if you’re a higher rate taxpayer – however it has numerous other fiscal and lifestyle benefits for retirees.  It will be cheaper and easier to get back and forth to the UK if you still have family there, if you earn a low income then your tax rate will be low in relative terms, property prices are falling, the cost of living is a lot less for a higher standard when compared to the UK, utility costs tend to be lower and qualifying Britons are eligible for free healthcare!

Hopefully you can see that there are affordable and even economically advantageous escapes for you if you’re a Briton approaching retirement – or even early retirement.  You just have to look overseas, consider each country on a like for like basis, determine the criteria you’re looking for in a nation in terms of cost of living and quality of life, and ultimately, be brave enough to make the move!  After all, what have you got to lose if Britain is about to enter a depression!

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