Retiring Internationally


Cary Sweeney
October 2022

At the bus stop this week, a gentleman and I struck up a conversation. I was glad I put my phone down from emailing to connect for a bit.  Our conversation eventually lead to where might be best to live in retirement.  He shared that he would be retiring abroad with his partner to a small town outside of Guadalajara, Mexico, where they travel once a year.  He was looking forward to a slower pace, affordable lifestyle and connecting with nature. 

The Retirement Center from time-to-time gets questions about retiring internationally.  It’s a trend that has been around for some time among retirees (see this 2007 cover story in the UC newsletter New Dimensions) that attributes this trend to “family, finances and culture” as reasons to retire overseas.  According to the Social Security Administration over half a million people living outside the United States receive some kind of Social Security benefit, including retired and disabled workers.  When researching retirement, I often see articles in my news feed about “Top 10 countries to retire abroad for Americans.” I’m curious about how it may be one solution for a more affordable retirement and a chance for self-discovery in this next chapter of life.  

There are many resources available for considering retirement abroad. Considerations include working in retirement, taxes, location, health coverage, long-term care and more.  There are articles and books from people who have researched and/or lived the experience of retiring abroad and more specific blogs or websites on moving into a retirement community abroad.  Retiring outside of the US isn’t for everyone, but for those who are concerned about affording retirement and/or are looking for a new adventure, considering life abroad may be the ticket. The following are resources i’ve found in my research. 

General resources about retiring abroad
AARP provides a broad overview with links to resources on social security and 2 sources that provide “the best places to retire.”

Next Avenue breaks down some of the main considerations with an article from a retired expat couple in Ecuador who offer advice.

And another article that identifies some things that trip people up when retiring abroad

Considering work in retirement overseas
A couple of recent articles came up in my research on working in retirement as a way to connect with a new life abroad.  If you’re considering working abroad, be sure to consult with someone who knows international tax issues.

Making a Move Abroad, and Working There, Too, New York Times (Tampa Bay Times, same article, not behind a paywall)

Startup in Paris? Why Not? Next Avenue

Considering a retirement community abroad
There is a specialist in the bay area who focuses on helping people retire in Mexico. My colleague Joanne Sullivan wrote a blog post about her and this work. This specialist who Joanne writes about started two intentional zen living communities in Mexico.

Legal, Tax, Social Security and Health Insurance issues
US Department of State Bureau Consular Affairs

Social Security Benefits U.S. Citizens Outside the United States 
A brief article from SSA that provides 2 links for finding out about continuing to receive your Social Security benefits when outside the United States.

The ABA consumer guide to retiring aboard: Legal, Financial and Tax Issues and Solutions, This is a guide written for Americans by the American Bar Association. 

When planning to retiree from UC, be sure to share if you plan to retire abroad since living outside of the US and/or California will impact your access to care.  UC Care PPO and CORE are your plan options if you move outside the US.  Both of these plans offer international coverage. Representatives from UC Retirement Administration Services Center or your local campus Health Care Facilitator can advise you on questions related to your UC Health Care. 

Once you begin researching retiring abroad, I must say it can get a little overwhelming. The good thing is there are resources available and chances are you know someone (or a friend knows someone) who has done it.  As I often say, start your planning early and stash this article a way for a time when you want to start dreaming about the prospect of retiring abroad or when you are ready to start the steps towards a plan.  If you are a UC/LBNL retiree who has wanderlust in your plans retirement, or you know someone who has successfully moved abroad, i’d like to hear from you. Please send me an email to

Publication date: 
September 30, 2022
Publication type: 
Journal Article