Unlike your Social Security checks, Medicare coverage stops at the border. Few U.S. employers offer health care coverage to expat retirees, and U.S. carriers typically don't provide individual coverage to Americans living abroad.
Although some countries offer world-class medical facilities, as well as government-sponsored health care so affordable that it can make sense to go without health insurance, there are some countries where the quality of health care is questionable. Also keep in mind that if you plan to return to the United States and sign up for Medicare later, your premium will be 10% higher for each 12-month period you could have been enrolled but were not.
Your cost of living
Although many countries around the world have a significantly lower cost of living than Western countries do, many places that once were havens for cheap retirement living are not nearly as cheap as they used to be. Some retirees end up losing money rather than enjoying the savings they had anticipated, thanks to a weakening dollar. A long-term decline in the U.S. currency means a downward adjustment in income for those living abroad. Further, Americans feeling the pinch of inflation at home might be shocked to find even higher inflation, sometimes in double digits, in less-developed countries.
It is important to figure inflation and exchange-rate fluctuations into your retirement budget.
Barriers to entry
While rules vary from country to country, many expatriates need to obtain a visa and have it renewed periodically for a fee, which requires some proof of income as a way of showing that you will not become a financial burden on the government. Some countries, Canada included, require a clean bill of health to gain permanent residency.
Complicated tax issues can also make it difficult to buy property abroad. For example, buying property in Switzerland is harder than in many other European nations because of rules imposed more than 30 years ago limiting what most foreigners can buy and where they can buy it. Foreigners who want to buy real estate near Mexico's coasts or borders need to lease the property from a bank trust.
But if the idea of retirement abroad still appeals, know this: Countries that are among the most popular retirement destinations -- based on tax burden and cost of living advantages -- include Mexico, Panama and Portugal.
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VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
If you're going to live someplace else, why keep your American citizenship just to pay taxes?
You're not getting any benefit from the US. I wouldn't do it.
Renoucing citizenship does not take away your Social Security benefits. If you are a retired military member you will loose your retirement.
This story sounds like it was written by some liberal leaning democrat who is afraid all of us that have a little something left, can be frightened into staying put. I bet in 10 years when we are all broke and have nothing left, having been stripped of it all with newly invented taxes, the government will open the cage doors and invite us to all leave. Right now they want us to stay because they have not stripped us clean yet.
My experience in Nevis with an emergency room, was being seen by a doctor within 10 minutes, 6 lab testa ordered and taken within 20 minutes and out the door with a followup visit scheduled for the next day. Next day prescription in hand, no charge for follow up visit, $9.00 for prescription, total cost for everything $41.00. Harvard trained doctor. Excelllent, excellent, excellent. My dog just went to the vet, examination and prescription $246.00 in the US. I can't even afford to go to the vet anymore, much less the doctor. Next time I get sick or any of you get sick. Pay the $900.00 round trip airfare to Nevis, get first class care and then come home. Cheaper, faster and better quality care than going to the doctor here.
For anyone who is thinking of retiring abroad, take heed, in most Latin American countries they kill you for a cell phone or a pair of sneekers, there is no "police" that you can count on, since most are as crooked as the thieves.
With all the problems we have we are still civilized [all we need to do now is vote out the current individual in the white house in November ]
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