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The Retirement Plan Guide for Expats

Expats who wish for a happy retirement are looking to craft the retirement plan that’s most apt for them.

If you are looking to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what I specialize in, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

In this page, we’ll discuss retirement planning, strategies, and some locations to consider. In particular, our talking points will include:

  • Retirement meaning
  • What is retirement planning?
  • Keys to a happy retirement
  • Retirement annuity
  • Retirement income strategies
  • Retirement tax planning
  • Best countries to retire

the meaning of retirement
Photo by Pixabay

Retirement meaning

When people stop working because of health problems or old age, it’s called retirement. Retirement can also mean the time after leaving the employment. When deciding to retire, factors including age, health, and pension eligibility come into play.

Many societies today consider pension rights to be part of retirement. Some even go so far as to call it pre-retirement.

Retirement vs pension

Retirement is the life stage, whereas a pension provides income during it. Not everyone has a pension; retirement income might come from savings, investments, Social Security, and other accounts. The distinction between retirement vs pension is crucial because people require several income streams and financial plans to retire comfortably beyond a pension.

The decision for a UK pension transfer, for instance, should be considered within the context of one’s overall retirement plan.

Retirement annuity

In retirement, a person can rely on a financial instrument called a retirement annuity to keep them financially secure. Any number of financial organizations and insurance firms may offer this type of annuity arrangement. Paying into the annuity over time, either all at once or in periodic installments, is the first step.

Retirement income strategies

Here are some retirement income strategies to take note of:

  • Investment Diversification: Balanced asset portfolios maximize profits and reduce risk.
  • Systematic Withdrawal: Maintain stable income and savings with a strategy.
  • Annuities: Immediate or deferred annuities are a good option to consider.
  • An Improvement to Social Security: Arrange Social Security benefits in a way that maximizes your income.
  • Work part-time: To augment your income, you could want to look into part-time jobs or freelancing.
  • Rental Revenue: You can potentially increase your earnings by investing in real estate.
  • Dividend-Paying Stocks: Include stocks that pay out dividends for regular income and potential growth.
  • Medical Cost Savings: Save up for medical bills with health savings accounts or get long-term insurance.
  • Planning and Controlling Spending: Create an extensive spending plan that fits in with your retirement objectives.
  • Advice from Financial Advisors: To create a unique strategy for your retirement, see a financial counselor.

Retirement withdrawal strategies

US Bank identifies three approaches: the 4% rule, Bucket strategy, and dynamic withdrawal.

  1. The dynamic withdrawal strategy may use a market-driven approach to cover current expenses and leave enough for the future.
  2. The 4% rule means you withdraw 4% of your retirement assets in the first year, with inflation adjustments in subsequent years.
  3. Meanwhile, the Bucket strategy means divide retirement investments into immediate, intermediate, and long-term buckets to control withdrawals by time horizon and market conditions.

Other retirement withdrawal strategies include:

  • Systematic withdrawals: Maintain capital investment and remove just interest or dividend income for a predictable income stream during retirement.
  • Tax-efficient withdrawals: To execute such, consider starting with required minimum distributions (RMDs) and evaluating the tax consequences of different account types.
  • Interest and dividends: Using investment interest and dividends to earn income while maintaining principal.
  • Phased withdrawal: To assist protect the retirement portfolio, one option is to phase out withdrawals, which involve gradually cutting the withdrawal rate over time.

What is retirement planning?

making the retirement plan
Photo: mike murray

Strategically arranging one’s resources to ensure one’s comfort, standard of living, and financial stability in the years after one’s career is known as retirement planning.

Why retirement planning is important

In order to have a comfortable and fulfilling retirement, one must plan ahead financially by establishing goals, making estimates of future needs, and putting money aside and investing in the right ways.

The goal is to help people achieve their preferred level of living after leaving the working by developing a thorough plan that takes into account things like income sources, budgeting, insurance, and investment decisions.

Hiring a retirement planning financial advisor for expat pension advice is a smart way to manage your post-career transition. Retirement planning financial advisors understand complex financial situations and can optimize your savings, assets, and income.

Retirement planning mistakes

In your retirement planning, keep these five things in mind:

  1. Lack of urgency: Not starting to save for retirement until later can lead to not having enough money since growth and compounding possibilities are lost.
  2. Neglecting to account for costs: Not accumulating enough money and possibly having money problems in retirement due to inaccurately estimating future needs.
  3. Relying solely on social security: Putting one’s retirement resources at risk by relying just on Social Security and failing to save or invest a portion of the money.
  4. Putting health care costs out of mind: Retirement healthcare costs can put a strain on finances if not anticipated. It is critical to prepare for possible medical expenses.
  5. Misallocation of assets: Portfolio performance can be affected by ineffective asset allocation, whether it’s too cautious or aggressive. Achieving success in the long run requires adjusting allocations according to risk tolerance.

Retirement planning checklist

  • Determine your desired lifestyle and financial objectives. Think about vacation, hobbies, and housing. Creating a retirement plan that meets your goals starts with this step.
  • Evaluate savings, investments, and assets. Know your retirement income sources. This assessment determines post-career financial readiness.
  • Estimate living expenses, including housing, healthcare, and daily expenses. This estimate helps you create a livable retirement budget.
  • Plan your retirement goals and spending in a detailed budget. This budget helps you plan retirement spending and savings.
  • Retirement preparation requires debt management techniques.
  • Create or maintain an emergency reserve for unexpected needs. This fund protects your retirement finances.
  • Discover your Social Security benefits and when to claim them. For best retirement income planning, consider Social Security.
  • Consider retirement health insurance choices, such as Medicare and additional policies. To cover retirement health costs, consider long-term care insurance.
  • Establish a regular evaluation of your investment portfolio depending on your risk tolerance and retirement date. Match your portfolio to your financial goals.
  • To reduce risk, prioritize portfolio diversification. Retirement portfolios are balanced and resilient with diversified investments.
  • Commit to consistent contributions to retirement accounts like 401(k)s, IRAs, or other employer-sponsored plans. Contribution maximization strengthens retirement finances.
  • Review and amend legal papers such as wills, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives. Comprehensive estate planning requires updating and aligning these documents with your wishes.
  • Clarify retirement income and withdrawal tax implications. Optimize your retirement tax position with tax-efficient investments.
  • Consider your insurance needs, including life and property coverage. Ensure your insurance coverage matches your risk management approach.
  • Make sure to examine and amend beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and insurance policies regularly. Estate planning requires proper beneficiary information.
  • Consider whether downsizing or relocating better suits your retirement lifestyle. Consider how moving could improve your finances and lifestyle.
  • Plan for withdrawing funds from retirement accounts throughout retirement. Careful withdrawal strategies aid post-career financial management.
  • Consider your retirement lifestyle and schedule activities accordingly. Focus on post-career joy and fulfillment.
  • Develop and maintain social ties to boost your retirement quality. Social connections foster community and well-being.
  • Review and update your retirement plan regularly to reflect new circumstances. Regular checkups keep your retirement strategy adaptable to changing demands and ambitions.

Retirement tax planning

When retiring abroad, it’s important to understand the tax implications of your decision. Retirement tax planning involves making well-informed financial decisions in order to reduce taxable income in old age. Tax laws vary from country to country, and it’s crucial to be aware of any tax obligations you may have in your home country and your chosen retirement destination.

In some cases, retiring abroad may offer tax advantages. Some countries have favorable tax regimes for retirees, such as low or zero tax rates on retirement income or capital gains. These tax incentives can significantly enhance your financial situation during retirement.

Many countries have tax treaties in place to avoid double taxation for retirees. These treaties may allow you to avoid paying taxes in both your home country and your retirement destination.

Additionally, consider the impact of estate taxes and inheritance laws in your chosen retirement destination. It’s crucial to understand how your assets and estate will be taxed and distributed upon your passing.

Consulting with a legal professional well-versed in international estate planning can help you navigate these complexities.

Related content: Ten Tax Mistakes of UK Expats Retiring Abroad

Keys to a happy retirement

  • Saving and investing appropriately throughout your career will ensure financial security. Consider pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, and Social Security for retirement income.
  • Prioritize body and mind. Keep active, healthy, and see your doctor often. A happy retirement depends on good health.
  • Build and maintain strong social connections. Join fulfilling communities and activities. Connect with friends, family, and retirees.
  • Follow activities that give you purpose and significance. Volunteering, hobbies, and continual learning are examples.
  • Allow flexibility and adaptability. Retirement can bring unexpected changes, so being open to them can improve well-being.
  • Review and change your financial plan often. Take into account inflation, healthcare expenditures, and income needs.
  • Enjoy leisure activities, travel, and experiences you may not have had time for while working.
  • Assess your needs. Consider your lifestyle and finances while downsizing or moving.
  • Attend cultural events, performances, and try new things to be culturally involved. This can make retirement lively.
  • Care for family and spend time with loved ones. Family connections can make retirement fulfilling.

What steps do you need to take before you retire abroad?

retirement planning steps

There are a number of preparations that should be made before retiring overseas to maximize the likelihood of a trouble-free transfer and a happy retirement.

  1. Plan your retirement at least a few years in advance. Planning your retirement years ahead helps reduce costs and smooth transitions. Consider countries’ immigration, residence, and property rights requirements. Research the law and engage a local real estate agent to comply with local regulations. Hire a trained agent to safeguard property.
  2. Consider whether you want to become a citizen of your new home. Either marriage or permanent residency can lead to citizenship, or one can apply for it. Citizenship offers full recognition, whereas permanent residency grants legal privileges like work and public services. Dual citizenship permits one to move between nations, whereas permanent residents have their permanent resident card.
  3. Find a financial expert who specializes in international retirement planning. Seek the advice of a financial planner who is well-versed in foreign healthcare, insurance, and tax rules; they should also have experience arranging for retirement abroad. Individualized strategies, referrals to specialists, and introductions to tax lawyers, asset managers, and retirement savings specialists are all within their purview.
  4. Prepare your will and estate. Everyone, even those residing overseas, should have an estate plan to handle their money and possessions after death. Among these assets are loans, equities, and real estate. Making a will, naming beneficiaries, selecting guardians, selecting executors, and establishing a power of attorney are all part of preparing an estate. Included in this category are financial concerns, funeral planning, charitable giving, and estate tax savings. Choosing a reliable executor and constantly checking accounts are of the utmost importance.

Related content: 16 things to consider when planning your retirement abroad: An expat’s guide

What are the best countries to retire to?


food costs in thailand

The inexpensive cost of living in Thailand, rich culture, and easy immigration laws entice retirees. It offers non-natives condos and gated communities in diverse natural beauties and affordable real estate.

Knowing how much to retire in Thailand makes way for a better financial plan.

Related content: Is Thailand Still a Good Place to Retire?


Mexico is gorgeous and diversified in ecosystems, cultures, and lifestyles. It has a pleasant climate, international airports, and a large expat community near the US. Mexico’s inexpensive cost of living attracts seniors seeking comfort. People 60 and older can get Personas Adultas Mayores retirement benefits.

Related content: How to retire in Mexico: An expat’s guide


Portugal has a diversified culture, warm environment, and excellent medical care. Portugal’s infrastructure rivals the US and Canada, and its international airports simplify global travel. Porto, noted for its port wine, attracts expats.

It’s vital to know how much to retire in Portugal as part of retirement planning.

Related content: Best Way to Retire in Portugal in 2023


A low cost of living, friendly neighbors, and warm weather make Ecuador a great retirement destination. The fourth-smallest South American nation, Ecuador, has a thriving tourism economy, contemporary amenities, and a rich ecosystem.

Related content: How To Retire in Ecuador: 7 Keys to a Thriving Retirement

Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s tropical temperature, natural beauty, and kind people attract retirees. Its inexpensive cost of living, accessibility to North American markets, and universal healthcare make it a popular retirement destination.

Related content: How to retire in Costa Rica: An expat’s guide


Panama’s low crime, reasonable living costs, and excellent healthcare make it a favorite retirement destination. Coronado welcomes expats, whereas Panama City has many attractions. The retirement visa (Pensionado visa) makes moving to Panama easier for those with a $1,000 monthly pension.

Related content: How to retire in Panama in 2023: An expat’s guide


Bahrain, a small Persian Gulf island, attracts foreign retirees with its good level of living and zero personal income taxes. The government regulates utilities, lowering housing expenses. Luxury villas and serviced apartments are popular despite higher living costs.

Related content: Should you retire in Bahrain? What you should know


Malta’s tranquil, exotic location, English-speaking population, and warm climate make it a popular retirement destination. Malta has approximately 3,000 sunlight hours, making it milder than neighboring countries. Many retirees choose Malta due to its relatively inexpensive cost of living. In Malta, you may live well on a budget lower than in the US or much of Europe.

Related content: How to retire in Malta in 2023: An expat’s guide


Greece has around 250 sunny days a year and a magnificent island chain. Locals are kind and energetic, making it a favored retirement destination. Greece draws people who can survive without being directly involved in the Greek economy due to its low cost of living.

Related content: Retiring in Greece in 2022

The Retirement Plan: Final Thoughts

It is crucial for a happy retirement abroad to assess living costs, culture, and other matters. Retiring abroad requires adaptation to new languages, understanding of healthcare and legal systems, as well as extensive retirement planning.

Without a solid plan, it’ll be quite hard to say how long will 1 million last in retirement, and so on.

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 760.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.



Gain free access to Adam’s two expat books.

Gain free access to Adam’s two expat books.

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