+44 7393 450837
Follow on

Should You Buy a Home in Retirement as an Expat?

‘Should you buy a home in retirement?’ is one of the most common questions among several expats all over the world.

Well, this can be a complex topic and requires a lot of consideration towards several contributing factors.

Just like most types of investment advice, this topic also doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach.

Nonetheless, I decided to provide a few valuable insights so that you decide better.

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).

Note that this article is strictly being provided for educational purposes, and it should be treated that way.

Investments require assessment of various factors like an individual’s goals, age, risk tolerance, income, etc.

Therefore, it is highly recommended to consult an expert financial advisor before making any investment-related decisions.

Expat Retirement

Should You Buy a Home in Retirement as an Expat
Photo: Canva

Who Are Expat Retirees?

Expat retirees are individuals who have made the deliberate choice to spend their retirement years living abroad.

This lifestyle allows them to explore novel cultures and experiences while relishing their golden years.

People opt for expat retirement for a variety of compelling reasons, including:

  • Affordable cost of living
  • Enhanced quality of life
  • Unique cultural encounters
  • Tax benefits

Moreover, retirees may be drawn to regions with more favorable weather conditions and the potential for tax advantages.

Before deciding to embark on an expat retirement, it is imperative to contemplate factors such as:

  • Financial stability
  • Availability of healthcare services
  • Visa prerequisites
  • Potential language barriers
  • Presence of social support networks

These elements can significantly influence the overall success and enjoyment of the expat retirement experience.

Desirable Expat Retirement Destinations

Central and South America

This nation is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, welcoming locals, and reasonable living expenses.

Costa Rica is a favored choice for expat retirees seeking a tranquil and laid-back lifestyle.

With its modern infrastructure, healthcare facilities, and tax-friendly environment, Panama is an attractive destination for expat retirees.

The thriving expat community here also provides substantial social support.

Mexico boasts a rich cultural heritage, diverse terrains, and a lower cost of living.

Its proximity to the United States makes it a convenient option for retirees wishing to maintain close ties with friends and family back home.

Ecuador is celebrated for its breathtaking natural beauty, agreeable climate, and affordable living expenses.

The country’s diverse geography, ranging from coastal towns to the Andean highlands, offers a range of lifestyle choices for expat retirees.


Portugal has emerged as a popular destination for expat retirees due to its warm climate, economic cost of living, and rich cultural legacy.

The country also extends an appealing residency program for retirees and foreign investors.

  • Spain

Spain’s sunny climate, stunning beaches, and affordable living conditions make it a top choice for expat retirees.

The well-established expat communities in the country offer excellent support for newcomers adjusting to life in Spain.

  • France

France’s world-class cuisine, picturesque countryside, and rich cultural history entice many expat retirees.

While urban areas may have a higher cost of living, more budget-friendly options are available in rural regions.

  • Italy

Italy’s captivating architecture, vibrant culture, and delectable cuisine make it an enticing destination for expat retirees.

The country provides a blend of urban and rural living, catering to diverse preferences and budgets.


Thailand is a favored expat retirement spot due to its tropical climate, stunning landscapes, and cost-effective living.

The country’s well-developed infrastructure and hospitable culture make it an attractive option for retirees.

Malaysia offers a high standard of living, a diverse cultural scene, and top-tier healthcare facilities.

The Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program simplifies the process for expat retirees to secure long-term residency.

Vietnam is renowned for its vibrant culture, breathtaking natural beauty, and affordable cost of living.

The country’s rapidly advancing infrastructure and healthcare system are making it an increasingly popular choice for expat retirees.

The Philippines boasts beautiful beaches, a warm climate, and a modest cost of living.

Its strong connections to the United States and widespread English proficiency make it a convenient choice for American retirees.

Desirable expat retirement destinations
Photo: Canva

Preparing for Expat Retirement

Research Prospective Destinations

Before finalizing a retirement destination, thorough research into the culture, cost of living, healthcare, and other relevant factors is essential.

This research will enable retirees to make well-informed decisions and establish realistic expectations for their expat experience.

Conduct Financial Planning and Budgeting

Sound financial planning and budgeting are paramount for a successful expat retirement.

Retirees should weigh in factors like exchange rates, local taxes, and potential fluctuations in their retirement income sources.

Consider Access to Quality Healthcare

Access to high-quality healthcare is a vital consideration for expat retirees.

Retirees should investigate the healthcare system in their chosen destination.

They should also assess the option of acquiring international health insurance to bridge any gaps in coverage.

Understand Visa and Residency Requirements

A clear understanding of the visa and residency prerequisites of the selected retirement destination is crucial for a seamless transition.

Retirees must contact local authorities or immigration experts to ensure they possess the required documents and meet all requirements.

Familiarize Yourself with Language and Culture

Adapting to a new language and culture can be a challenging aspect of expat retirement.

Enrolling in language courses and participating in local events can facilitate retirees in learning a new language.

This helps them in acclimating to their new surroundings and cultivating a sense of belonging within their adopted community.

Pros and Cons of Expat Retirement

Advantages of Expat Retirement

Now, let us have a look at the potential advantages of expat retirement.

Reduced Cost of Living

Expat retirement presents a significant advantage in the potential for a decreased cost of living.

Numerous sought-after expat destinations offer affordable housing, groceries, and other essential expenses.

This availability enables retirees to make the most of their retirement savings.

Enhanced Quality of Life

Expat retirees often relish an improved quality of life because of:

  • Favorable weather conditions
  • A slower pace of living
  • Access to various amenities
  • Recreational activities

This can lead to heightened overall happiness and well-being in retirement.

Cultural Exploration and Personal Development

Residing in a foreign country offers retirees the opportunity to immerse themselves in a different culture.

This helps the retirees achieve personal growth and a broader perspective on life.

This aspect can enhance their retirement years and create lasting memories.

Favorable Weather and Climate

Many expat retirees opt to live in countries boasting more agreeable weather and climate conditions.

Such countries are usually characterized by warmer temperatures and less extreme seasonal variations.

These conditions can positively impact both their physical health and overall well-being.

Possible Tax Benefits

Depending on the retiree’s home country and their chosen destination, expat retirement may come with tax advantages.

Consulting with a tax professional is essential to grasp the specific implications and potential benefits.

Challenges and Potential Downsides of Expat Retirement

Not everything is going to be the best while living as an expat retiree as there are certain drawbacks as well.

Distance from Family and Friends

One challenge expat retirees may encounter is the separation from family and friends in their home country.

This distance can lead to feelings of isolation and homesickness, which can be challenging to manage.

Adapting to New Cultural Norms and Customs

Adapting to new cultural norms and customs can pose challenges for expat retirees.

Adjusting to different social etiquette, traditions, and ways of life may require time and effort.

Potential Language Barriers

Language barriers can be a significant obstacle for expat retirees, hindering effective communication and connections with locals.

Learning the local language can mitigate these challenges and enhance the overall retirement experience.

Access to Quality Healthcare

Access to good healthcare can be a hurdle for expat retirees, specifically in countries with under-developed healthcare systems.

It is crucial to research healthcare options in the chosen destination and consider international health insurance coverage.

Political Stability and Safety Concerns

Political stability and safety concerns can impact the quality of life for expat retirees.

Staying informed about local conditions and taking these factors into account when selecting a retirement destination is essential.

Tips for a Successful Expat Retirement

Given below are a few tips on how to achieve successful expat retirement.

  • Maintain Flexibility and Open-mindedness
  • Embrace Local Culture and Traditions
  • Plan Regular Visits to the Home Country
  • Stay Informed About Local Laws and Regulations
  • Seek Professional Assistance When Necessary

Now, let us get to the main topic, which is about whether or not an expat retiree should buy a home.

Tips for a Successful Expat Retirement
Photo: Canva

Should You Buy a Home in Retirement?

The choice between owning and renting a retirement home involves various considerations and presents both advantages and disadvantages.

Housing costs are a significant part of your retirement budget, whether you choose to rent or own.

Ownership costs can increase due to fluctuations in market value, unexpected maintenance expenses, and insurance deductibles.

Homes should not be primarily purchased for investment purposes.

Ownership offers stability, tax benefits, and equity.

Renting provides flexibility, liquidity, and potential cost savings in terms of maintenance.

Tax Implications

When comparing homeownership to renting, it’s important to consider tax implications.

These changes reduce the number of taxpayers who can benefit from such deductions, making rental costs not tax-deductible.

Risks to Consider

Both owning and renting have their associated risks.

Owning a home can be more cost-effective in the long run, but it comes with the risk of fluctuations in market value, unexpected maintenance costs, and insurance deductibles.

Renting, on the other hand, is like buying insurance against maintenance expenses, as renters don’t bear the costs of regular maintenance or unforeseen events.

Investment Opportunity

While real estate can be a good investment, homeownership should not be solely for investment purposes.

Housing is an essential living cost, and homeowners shouldn’t rely on their homes as investments.

Renting may be economically equivalent to shorting a stock, allowing flexibility if you believe housing prices will fall.

Cashing Out and Liquidity

Renting offers flexibility, as you don’t need to worry about housing market conditions or the lengthy process of selling a home.

It can be particularly valuable if you need to move quickly or have limited liquid assets to handle unexpected expenses.

Advantages of Renting

Renting offers open options, making it suitable for retirees who are unsure of:

  • Where they’ll spend their retirement years
  • Need for downsizing
  • Changes in their health or family situations

Renting can have lower overall costs, as renters are typically not responsible for structural maintenance.

It also frees up capital for other investments and offers flexibility in moving.

Should You Buy a Home in Retirement: Reasons Not To

There are several compelling reasons to steer clear of purchasing real estate.

The significance of these reasons may vary depending on the country in which you are considering buying property.

If you encounter any of these issues, you may find yourself wishing you were a renter.

This is because tenants have greater flexibility when dealing with these challenges.

Lack of Liquidity

In many countries, real estate markets can experience political, economic, or banking crises that significantly reduce the liquidity of real estate assets.

This is especially true in economically powerful nations like the United States, Europe, and Canada.

What you might perceive as a safe investment back home might become much less stable once you are outside your home country.

You also may struggle to sell your property if your plans change.


Periodically throughout history, surges of nationalism have arisen, especially during recessions and depressions.

These movements can lead to economic difficulties for middle-class and low-income workers.

Often, politicians use foreigners as scapegoats and propose legislation targeting them.

This legislation can include restricting the proceeds from property sales or imposing hefty taxes, putting your investment at risk.

Divorce Laws

Marrying a local can lead to unexpected issues if your relationship sours, as local laws may be unfavorable to you in case of a divorce.

Consult a local lawyer before marrying or purchasing local real estate.

Financial Surprises

Real estate financing can come with significant variations in truth-in-lending laws between countries.

Not understanding the local laws and customs might result in unexpected financial surprises, such as balloon payments or floating interest rates.

Having documents in a language you don’t understand makes the situation even riskier.

Always consult your local lawyer before committing to such financial arrangements.

Land Use Restrictions

Some countries lack the land-use restrictions found in your home country.

You might find your property surrounded by unanticipated developments like a slaughterhouse, a dusty farm, or a noisy venue.

When land-use conflicts arise, the value of your property can plummet.

Infrastructure and Services

Promised developments like roads, electricity, water, and the internet might not materialize when the city’s budget changes or faces other priorities.

Corruption, Taxes, and Legal Disputes: Dealing with neighbor disputes or legal issues in a foreign country can be complex and expensive.

Unfamiliarity with local laws and customs, along with language barriers, can exacerbate these challenges.

Government corruption might add to the complexity, and any disputes could take years to resolve.

Monetary Devaluation, Inflation, or Deflation

If your pension depends on exchange rates, devaluation or inflation of the foreign or local currency can impact your financial stability.

This might result in a situation that leaves you wishing you could hand back the property keys.

Repairs and Improvements

Foreign property owners may face higher costs for repairs, face challenges when trying to make structural changes.

They may even be susceptible to encountering corruption when dealing with officials.

Paying bribes in foreign countries can even lead to legal issues, given U.S. federal laws against such actions.

Low Gross Rent Multiplier

In some foreign countries, real estate investments may not provide the returns you expect.

Higher mortgage rates and lower savings rates can make property overpriced, resulting in unfavorable gross rent multipliers.

Why Should You Buy a Home in Retirement?

There are certain situations in which buying real estate could be a viable option, which are as follows.

Reasons to Buy Real Estate as an Expat Retiree
Photo: Canva

Asset Protection

If you need to protect your assets from potential lawsuits, owning property in a foreign country could be beneficial.

However, consult a lawyer to ensure the legality and effectiveness of this strategy.

Eliminating Accommodation Costs

In some cases, buying a small property in a cheap destination can help eliminate significant expenses if the property allows you to grow your food.

This could lead to substantial long-term savings.

High Rental Returns

If rental income substantially exceeds your expenses and the down payment is low, purchasing property might make sense.

Specifically, if the property can be managed by a local property manager, offering you a positive cash flow.

Other Benefits

If the expat destination considered by you is good enough, you’ll get access to other benefits, such as:

  • Tax advantages
  • Better quality of life
  • Robust healthcare
  • Low cost of living

Make sure that you weigh in on the benefits and disadvantages before purchasing a real estate property abroad.

Tips for Purchasing a Property Abroad

Many individuals get carried away while owning property in another country and often make costly mistakes due to their excitement.

To ensure a smooth international property purchase, here are some steps to avoid these common pitfalls:

Don’t Rely on Past Experiences Alone

If you’re considering buying a retirement home or vacation property abroad, don’t solely rely on your memories from a visit years ago.

Places can change significantly over time, and what was once a charming locale may now have different circumstances.

It’s crucial not to base your decision on nostalgia, even if you know the seller.

Conduct property inspections yourself during multiple visits to ensure it meets your current needs and expectations.

Rushing into a purchase can lead to financial regrets and liabilities, which may prove to be costly.

Seek Professional Assistance

When you decide to proceed with your international property purchase, it’s wise to enlist the help of professionals in the field.

Consider hiring a licensed conveyancer, lawyer, experienced real estate agent, or developer who can guide you through the complex process.

These professionals can provide valuable advice, minimize risks, and ensure the transaction’s compliance with all legal requirements.

For legal advice, consider an independent lawyer proficient in both English and the local language.

Research the Real Estate Market

Keep in mind that real estate markets vary from one country to another.

Before proceeding, conduct thorough market research as a hike in property prices locally may not indicate the same trend abroad.

Some countries have restrictions on foreign property ownership, making it essential to understand your rights and obligations fully.

Seeking professional assistance is critical to navigating these complexities.

Understand the Risks

Be well-informed about the risks involved in purchasing property overseas.

Key areas to consider include taxes, paperwork, exchange rates, and developer reliability.

Understand the tax implications both locally and internationally, ensuring you’re attentive to all obligations.

Be mindful that even minor currency exchange rate fluctuations can significantly affect your property’s value.

This may not be impactful now, but it could potentially impact your mortgage payments in the future.

Obtain all the necessary permits, licenses, and consents before signing any contracts.

Be wary of these procedures, especially if an agent pressures you to sign before seeking expert opinions.

Financial Planning

After choosing your desired property and feeling confident about it, consider how you’ll finance the purchase.

Decide whether you’ll use savings or opt for a loan.

Some individuals choose to sell their existing property to fund the overseas purchase.

Another approach is to acquire an additional mortgage on your current property and rent it out, using the rental income to cover various property-related expenses.

Consult with a financial advisor to determine the best financial strategy for your unique circumstances.

By following these steps, you can avoid common pitfalls associated with buying property abroad and ensure a more secure and well-informed investment.

Bottom Line

Expat retirement boasts numerous advantages, including a reduced cost of living, an enhanced quality of life, and distinctive cultural encounters.

Nevertheless, it presents its share of challenges, such as adapting to new cultural norms and staying connected with loved ones.

Thorough planning and research are imperative for a successful expat retirement experience.

By delving into potential destinations, financial considerations, healthcare options, and visa prerequisites, you can establish realistic expectations and make informed choices should you buy a home in retirement.

Expat retirement opens doors to exploring new cultures, forging new connections, and creating enduring memories.

By embracing this unique lifestyle, retirees can relish an exciting and fulfilling retirement that enriches their golden years.

To facilitate a seamless transition into expat retirement, it is highly recommended that retirees seek professional advice and support.

Retirement planning services offer valuable guidance and resources to help retirees navigate the complexities of living abroad and make the most of their retirement years.

The decision to own or rent a retirement home involves multiple factors, such as tax implications, financial stability, maintenance costs, and personal preferences.

It’s essential to carefully weigh these factors to determine the most suitable housing arrangement for your retirement years.

In conclusion, many expats are advised to buy real estate overseas, often by organizations with financial incentives for doing so.

For most people, owning real estate in their home country while living off the rental income in a cheap expat destination is a safer and more practical approach.

This strategy minimizes the risk associated with foreign real estate investment and offers greater peace of mind.

As I said in the beginning, there is no specific one-size-fits-all solution for expat retirees who want to buy a property abroad.

I strongly hope that the details presented within this article helped determine whether or not you can benefit from a property purchase.

That being said, if you are an expat or an HNWI looking for the best wealth management services, you are in the right place.

I personally assisted several clients of mine in achieving financial freedom through top-notch investment solutions.

Feel free to reach out to me to find out whether you can benefit from the tailored services I offer.

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

smile beige jacket 4 1024x604 1
Should You Buy a Home in Retirement as an Expat? 6

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.

This website is not designed for American resident readers, or for people from any country where buying investments or distributing such information is illegal. This website is not a solicitation to invest, nor tax, legal, financial or investment advice. We only deal with investors who are expats or high-net-worth/self-certified  individuals, on a non-solicitation basis. Not for the retail market.



Gain free access to Adam’s two expat books.

Gain free access to Adam’s two expat books.

Get more strategies every week on how to be more productive with your finances.