Some retirees save money by moving abroad

Retirement is a hot (and stressful) topic for millions of Americans, as high inflation has driven up the cost of living while savings accounts have dwindled. However, some retirees have found a way to live comfortably and still save money: by moving abroad.

By the end of 2021, nearly 450,000 retirees were receiving their Social Security benefits outside the U.S., up from 307,000 in 2008, according to the Administration of Social Security.

The Wall Street Journal spoke to six retirees who moved abroad (with savings ranging from $70,000 to $1.8 million) and debunked the myth that moving abroad requires a huge nest egg.

Six years ago, Halisi Vinson, 58, and Ricardo Crawley, 67, had nearly $25,000 in credit card debt and less than $50,000 in retirement savings. After analyzing their spending habits and expenses, the couple spent six years drastically cutting back on spending and increasing their retirement savings. About a year ago, the duo moved to Portugal, where they quickly realized how much less they spend on everyday life. Between renting and dining out, the couple spends about $2,600 a month, they told the WSJ.

Related: US retirement outlook falls to lowest level since 2012

Another retiree, Matthew Coe, 60, moved from Washington state to Barcelona 13 years ago and says his monthly expenses add up to about $3,000. The former company lawyer told the WSJ that if he still lived in Seattle, his monthly expenses would be nearly $6,500, including travel and health care.

During his retirement in Barcelona, ​​Coe invested in local real estate and even started his own company, helping international buyers find and renovate homes in the city.

“My stress level in Spain is much lower due to the lower cost of living and an overall higher quality of life,” he told the outlet.

While moving abroad can seem expensive, many countries have visas and tax breaks designed specifically for retirees. Portugal for example Non-ordinary resident regime grants eligible foreigners tax benefits such as exemption from local taxes for 10 years on income coming from outside Portugal (including social security, pension income, salary from outside the country, and more).

In Spain, where Coe lives, there are two main options for potential retirees: the Spain Investors Visa, which grants residence permits to those investing in local real estate, businesses or a personal business, and the Non-lucrative Residence Permit, which grants residence permits to eligible foreigners if they can demonstrate that they have sufficient have income to support themselves and their family members.

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