Retiring abroad

As the memories of the warm and cheery Australian summer fade, many people nearing retirement age may be giving thoughts to retiring abroad.

Couple riding bikes in Europe image

In fact more and more Australians are doing just that. With property prices and cost of living on the rise, the number of Australians retiring overseas has dramatically increased in the past 10 years.

Swelling expat communities are popping up in Thailand, Spain and Cambodia. Most claim that these paradise destinations are cheaper, healthier, safer and freer than spending their golden years at home. In some of these places, your money goes as much as three times further than it does here in Australia. Meals out, day trips, massages, maids, cleaners—you can have it all. And it’s within reach. 

Spending your retirement overseas is also getting easier. Australia now has reciprocal social security agreements with 31 countries. But before you pack your bags and spread your retirement wings, there are certain issues you need to ponder over.

Can I get the pension overseas?

Australian citizens may be entitled to receive the Australian pension overseas, subject to several factors including the length of time away, whether assets and income have changed and whether the pension is delivered through a social security agreement with another country. Australia has 31 agreements with countries such as Spain, Japan and Italy that allow for more cohesive social security coverage. It is recommended that you seek advice from both Centrelink and financial advisers regarding your entitlements.

Can I access my super overseas?

Yes you can access your super whilst you’re living overseas once you have reached your preservation age and have permanently retired from the workforce or you satisfy another relevant condition of release.

Are there any tax implications?

While your superannuation income or lump-sum payments might be tax-exempt in Australia, that may not be the case in other countries. Some countries may levy a wealth tax on your super balance and others may seek to tax your super earnings. You should seek professional tax advice in advance of any move overseas to establish how you will be taxed to avoid expensive mistakes.

Can I get access to healthcare? 

Take the time to research and understand the medical system in your desired new country. Australians citizens living abroad for more than five years forfeit the right to Medicare benefits. Unless you’re moving to a country with a well-developed public health system, then you need to make provision for international health insurance, which may be very expensive.  However, with health procedures often cheaper abroad and popular retiree destinations such as Thailand seeing a spike in medical tourism, losing out on Medicare might not be a deal-breaker for some. 

Where to retire?

Cheaper and more convenient air travel has made the world smaller – so you no longer need to say farewell to your family forever if you relocate overseas. But before choosing the country to retire in, it’s crucial you invest sufficient time doing your homework. So how do you choose? On top of the things mentioned above, here are some other factors to consider:

  • buying & investing property 
  • renting
  • visas & residence
  • cost of living
  • fitting in
  • entertainment & amenities
  • healthy lifestyle
  • climate
  • governance & safety

Need help?

If you need help planning out your retirement, contact TelstraSuper Financial Planning on 1300 033 166 or fill in our online contact form. 

Any general advice has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before you act on any general advice, you should consider whether it is appropriate to your individual circumstances. Before making any decision, you should obtain and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination or call us on 1300 033 166 for copies of these documents. You may wish to consult an adviser before you make any decisions relating to your financial affairs. To speak with an Adviser from TelstraSuper Financial Planning call 1300 033 166.