Foreign countries ramp up incentives to attract expat retirees

Published:  15 Oct at 11 AM
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Senior citizens in first world countries such as the UK and USA are being offered a variety of retirement incentives such as tax breaks and easy visa options by an increasing number of states worldwide.

The value of would-be expat pensioners to second and third world economies seems at last to be obvious to a good number of far-flung yet attractive destinations’ governments. American expats started the trend with an exodus across the country’s southern border to Mexico, with Ecuador now a favourite for its cheaper expat mortgages, price concessions for retirees and front-of-the-line privileges.

Nicaragua takes its pensioner welcome a step further by allowing those over 45 years of age to qualify for a retirement residency visa providing they can show a monthly income of $600 – hardly a problem from those from the USA. However, Panama tops the list with its laundry list of privileges and its Friendly Nations permanent resident visa available to retirees of all nationalities, and Costa Rica’s ‘pensionado’ programme is also popular for its varied perks.

On the other side of the world, the Philippines was first to encourage retirees to choose its beachside resorts, using a government-devised initiative including residency for an initial down-payment to be used to purchase a home or start a business. Entry to Cambodia is equally straightforward due to its annually renewable visa allowing settlement and permission to work.

Formerly a major retiree destination but slipping down the list due to its recent military takeover and resulting visa-related uncertainties, Thailand admits expats over 50 years of age via a retirement extension requiring a £15000 deposit in a Thai bank for three months before application and each annually renewal. However, the required 90-day reports at immigration can pose problems for less-than-mobile seniors.
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