Old man filling out online visa application

Retirement visa countries

Ieva Miltina Ieva Miltina 02 July 2021
41 view 6 min. read

Retiring can come with dual emotions. Maybe it is relief about being able to stay at home and spend more time with family - a well-deserved rest after decades of hard work. But it can be a shattering experience, too - suddenly, there is so much time and a lack of reason for even getting out of the home. Either way, after the first wave of emotion, wears off, how would you imagine your life after retiring? A big portion of the population dream of the moment when they will be able to fulfill a popular retirement scenario - moving to a warm country that has a vibrant culture and enjoy a well-deserved rest.

This is where the confusion might kick in. There are so many countries in the world. How do you even choose? And which countries offer retirement visa? And then, from the potential pool of options which are the best retirement visa countries? In this article, I have gathered information about some of the most popular countries with retirement visa programs. And no worries - I will offer some explanations that will help to understand what it means to get a retirement visa. That is in case you are not well acquainted with the concept.

But before kicking it off, let me just tell you that even if the general crowd has their favorites among those feel-good destinations for their retirement, you don’t have to follow them! Every retiree has their formula of happiness, and let’s not beat around the bush. Everyone has the price level they can afford. The smartest game plan would be to understand how you imagine your retirement days and build the whole image around them. And only then look through the retirement visa list of countries to choose the one that fits the bill the best. Ok, ok, I know there might be a bunch of you that have had a lifelong dream about a particular location, and I envy you for that! Because all there is left to do now is submitting the documents for the application and booking your dream accommodation. But meanwhile - here are a bunch of countries with retirement visa programs for you to help envision that all. But first things first…

What is a retirement visa?

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Before understanding which countries offer retirement visas, it is important to specify what does it mean exactly and what it will allow you as a retiree. Generally, we can consider a retirement visa (or "pensionado" for Spanish-speaking countries) a type of visa that allows long-term living in a country with a passive income. That is, the pension money you receive from the government or your savings. That is the main difference point that is usually taken into consideration.

Which countries offer retirement visa?

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Look. As I mentioned before - you should first understand what type of life you see for yourself. Maybe you don't even need a specific retirement visa but prefer making short trips that will require just an ordinary tourist visa. Additionally, if you have the financial means and a particular idea of what you want to do, you might as well consider investment visas. Or study visas. Or maybe even a visa for employment in the chosen country! It is totally up to you. You choose your preferred model of living! With that said, the answer to this question is quite simple - you will be able to find a type of visa that might fit at least some of your needs in practically any of the countries in the world. Just take into consideration that in most cases, the "classic" notion of retirement visa will mean - long stay, passive income, and the ability to prove your finances.

Who needs to apply for a retirement visa?

visa application form

This is the tricky part. Contrary to short-term tourist visas, a retirement visa will be necessary for most travelers with the corresponding motivations. There are a few exceptions that are usually bound to nationalities from the same region. For example, if you are a national of the EU, then retiring in any other Schengen country will be much easier because you won't need a visa. Or similarly in some South American or Asian countries. For example, if you are a Singaporean willing to retire in Bali. If a possibility for easier arrangements sounds appealing, I would suggest checking the countries in your region first!

How to choose one of the best retirement visa countries?

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As I mentioned beforehand, it is important to understand what are the factors you want to see in your perfect destination. Some look for the safest and cheapest countries to get a retirement visa, but others look for the wow factor and the entertainment potential. For some, the ability to come home to grandchildren easily is the most important factor. Another aspect you might look for is the options for healthcare - maybe you need a steady insurance or healthcare plan to make sure you feel good. Some countries will offer the same standard of healthcare and living at way lower costs. Maybe you want to move somewhere that finally makes you feel prosperous? Or maybe you have saved your whole life to have a good living in your older days and want to move to the pinnacle of the culture - Europe? "The easiest countries in Europe to get retirement visa" is definitely a term searched online rather often.

Each of the retirement visa countries will have its own set of benefits and downsides, and you just have to pick yours. Set your priorities straight and do some research. The truth is - if you write "retirement visa" and the name of your preferred country in an online search, you are bound to find loads of information to specify the details. But here goes a shortlist of the most popular countries to inspire you to dream and research further.

The most common retirement visa list of countries

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Ok, the system will go like this. I will mention some names and the requirements to be eligible for this type of visa.

Let's start with the European destinations. It is a safe choice for the ones living in the Schengen zone but also an exciting option for the more prosperous retirees from the USA and Asia. To be honest, the easiest countries in Europe to get retirement visa will have two things to look for. A language you understand or can translate with help easily (makes the application process easier), and the popularity among other retirees. If many foreigners are trying to get a retirement visa, then the system might be more accustomed to easy applications.

The United Kingdom

view of london city

The main requirement is that you have to have an existing connection to the UK and be over 60 years old. Additionally, you need to have a minimum of 40 000 USD income per year.

Spain

spain

A retirement visa for Spain is called a non-lucrative visa. The main requirement is having at least 30 000 USD income per year. It is one of the most popular destinations, especially for the North European retirees - there are even particular villages with them living in the same commune.

Portugal

porto city

It is a popular destination as you are required to have a lower income than other South European countries. The name is D7 Passive income visa, and you will be required to prove that your annual income is no lower than about 15 000 USD.

Norway

scandinavian village

Even though Norway is not one of the retirement visa countries, and there is no specific retirement visa, you can apply for a permanent residency. The requirements are not too easy - your annual income has to be a minimum 21 300 USD. Additionally, you will have to learn Norwegian and pass tests.

South American destinations are usually most popular by the nationals of the USA and Canada. The main motivation is the easy living and the very low living costs compared to back home. Asia, on the other hand, is a way more affordable destination for everyone willing to experience a more exotic living.

Mexico

mexican flag

Mexico Pensionado Visa is very popular among many Spanish-speaking US citizens. The annual income of 25 000 USD or 85 000 USD in investments will be the minimum requirement.

Panama

You will need a minimum of 12 000 USD income per year to get a Panama Pensionado Visa.

Argentina

emotional couple dance

It is an option if you are not as wealthy - to receive an Argentina retirement visa, you need to prove just 6 000 USD annual income.

Thailand

bangkok night

If you are over 50 and can show that you have an annual income of more than 2000 USD, you are welcome! Many consider this to be among the safest and cheapest countries to get a retirement visa.

Malaysia

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They have a so-called retiree “My 2nd Home” program. An annual income of 2 500 USD and no less than 80 000 USD in assets are required.

Even if you are still not sure which will be the right one for you from this retirement visa list of countries, knowing which countries offer retirement visas is a source for inspiration, and a base for further research, isn't it? Even if your dream country is not on the list, don't feel down. As I mentioned before - each country offers a type of visa that will allow you to move there and spend your retirement graciously. And I just mentioned the most common option - the list is definitely inconclusive! The world is your oyster, and after retiring, you finally have the time to explore it! Good luck with your plans and safe travels, too.

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Ieva Miltina
Ieva Miltina Activist and entrepreneur

Ieva Miltina is an activist and entrepreneur of many sorts. By profession project manager of marketing and culture events, in her heart she is a passionate traveler and a cook, soon to become a pastry chef. Deeply rooted in non-formal education she has been involved in youth work since her teenage years and up till nowadays holds a deep interest in innovative approaches to learning and personal development, which she transfers to people from all Europe during various international trainings. Always looking for new discoveries and adventures she happily shares her positive view on the world and the neverending stories with the people who cross her path. While studying hospitality and tourism management she wrote a thesis on home-chefs, which ignited her dream of owning her cozy and heartwarming home restaurant, which will hopefully materialize very soon. Meanwhile writing articles and doing food photography she is working towards another dream of hers - becoming a published author someday. 

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