A Complete Guide to Countries with Retirement Visas

Retirement is synonymous with freedom, flexibility, and the chance to finally live the life you've always dreamed of. No more alarm clocks, no more commutes—just the open road ahead, filled with possibilities. With such luxuries at your disposal, spending your golden years in a dream country and living a comfortable life feels like a well-deserved reward. 

But while the idea of sipping margaritas on a pristine beach might be tempting, relocating to a new country at this stage in life requires careful planning. There are visas to consider, healthcare systems to navigate, and cultural nuances to adapt to. 

Don't worry, though. Let’s walk you through different countries with retirement visas, their requirements, and the advantages they offer. 

What is a Retirement Visa? 

So, you have spent your working years in your home country and now want to live in a dream destination. It's only fair for you to wish to wake up to a scenic place after giving decades to a job or business. Moving to a different country may give you a new perspective on life and offer a unique chance to explore further.  

Retirement visas allow you to turn this dream into reality. Many countries offer these visas, providing a path to residency and a wealth of benefits tailored to retirees. 

Benefits Beyond Residency. Depending on the region, retirement visas often come with additional perks beyond just residency. You might find access to healthcare plans, special tax benefits, or even preferential pension options. This can translate to significant savings and peace of mind during your golden years. Additionally, some visas grant freedom to travel and return, allowing you to explore the world while maintaining your residency. 

Eligibility and Considerations. While retirement visas open exciting doors, there are factors to consider. Each country has its own eligibility requirements, often focusing on financial stability, health insurance, and, sometimes, age. Popular destinations like Portugal, Thailand, Spain, Ecuador, Indonesia, Ireland, and Mexico all offer retirement visas, but the specifics will vary. 

Visa Length and Re-entry. The duration of a retirement visa can range from one year to several years, with some countries allowing indefinite re-entries. This flexibility lets you travel freely without jeopardizing your residency status. However, some visas may require spending a specific number of consecutive days in the country each year. 

Retirement Visa vs. Tourist Visa. You might wonder if a long-term tourist visa wouldn't suffice. While it's an option to explore, retirement visas offer significant advantages. They typically grant longer stays, additional benefits like healthcare access, and a path toward permanent residency. Remember, the specific conditions will depend on the chosen country, so it's crucial to research thoroughly. 

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Retirement Destination 

Consider the following factors when choosing between countries with retirement visas:  

Visa Application Process  

The process starts with filling in your details in the application on government websites. You may find it under the respective immigration sections. While some countries may have an option to apply in person at immigration offices.  

Each country will have a set of requirements and official documents needed, but some commonly required documents include: 

  • A valid passport  
  • Proof of income 
  • List of assets and savings 
  • Birth certificate  
  • Marriage certificate  
  • Vaccination proofs 
  • Current medical report 
  • Proof of residence in the home country 

The list may decrease or increase depending on the host country. Considering the complexity involved, consulting an immigration lawyer or visa specialist is highly recommended. They can ensure your application is complete and fulfills all the requirements to avoid delays or rejections. 

Tax Implications 

Living abroad comes with a new tax landscape.  While some countries offer subsidized healthcare and retirement plans, you could be subject to their tax laws which may differ from your home country. There's also a chance your income could be taxed in both your home country and your new one. Tax treaties (often called Double Taxation Treaties) between the two countries can help avoid this, so research them beforehand. 

Any current income may be taxable in your home country as well as the host country. Visas do come with certain requirements, several of which are described above. In addition, retirees can be subject to taxes and may be required to contribute to the country’s healthcare and retirement systems. 

Healthcare Considerations and Facilities  

Staying healthy involves being proactive about it and regularly getting checkups. The right healthcare facilities, specialists, medical infrastructure, and fitness centers are non-negotiables when it comes to maintaining health and energy in a new country.  

You may not need to constantly visit hospitals. But it’s good to be aware of the quality of medical care in case there is an emergency. Gyms for seniors and home care are other essentials that will keep you up and active in your golden years.  

Other facilities to consider are:  

  • Massage therapists  
  • Physiotherapists 
  • Hospice nurses 
  • Medical specialist  

Cost of Living for Your Retirement 

When choosing a retirement destination, finances play a crucial role. Ideally, the cost of living shouldn't be significantly higher than what you're accustomed to back home. This ensures you can comfortably cover your basic needs without depleting your savings. Besides, if you wish to splurge on traveling often, opting for a more affordable location like the Philippines or Thailand can be a wise decision. 

Also, consider the basic amenities, housing costs, and inflation when choosing the country. Why? Renting an apartment might cost less in some countries compared to others, and some regions may even offer subsidized healthcare. This can have a big impact on your overall spending and savings. 

Climate and Culture  

Consider the weather and landscape when looking for a dream home country in your retirement years. This may totally depend on whether you prefer a coastal climate of beaches or crisp mountains and snow-clad hills. Whether you like tanning in the sun or enjoy chilly evenings, there are several locations to choose from.  

Some popular tourist locations may offer you a vibrant culture, making you feel like you are on vacation each day. But if you want a more peaceful environment, choose a less populated hidden gem that’s still away from the tourists but in close proximity for when you need to socialize. 


Flights Connectivity and Ease of Travel 

Look for a country with a strong flight and train network for both regional and international travel. This will make getting around during your trip convenient and less stressful.  

Popular Countries with Retirement Visa Programs 

Now that you know your priorities, explore retirement plans in different countries. Look for programs that align with your needs in terms of geographical beauty, quality of life, retirement benefits, and more.  

Latin America 

Latin America offers a stunning variety of destinations for retirees, each with its own unique charm and a welcoming atmosphere. 


In Latin America, Panama is known for warm people, medicine and utilities discounts, and affordable housing if that’s your priority. If you already have a pension plan going on, Panama has legal residency provisions. Under the Pensionado visa, there’s no minimum age for retirement. Plus, you can import your household goods duty-free and get preferential treatment at government offices. 

Costa Rica 

If stunning landscapes and eco-conscious living are your priorities, Costa Rica is a dream come true. The Rentista visa caters to retirees with a minimum monthly income of around $1,000 USD from pensions or investments. Costa Rica is a pioneer in sustainable practices, with lush rainforests, breathtaking volcanoes, and a commitment to protecting its natural beauty. 


Mexico is another great destination if you’re a fan of warm weather and tropical environments. Life will feel like an endless, lively vacation in Mexico. But the best part? Mexico has a large and welcoming expat community, making it easy to connect with others who share your retirement dreams. Apply for a Residencia Temporal Visa to get a 180-day temporary visa, which is renewable for up to 3+1 years. It requires proof of financial solvency, which can be met through a combination of income and savings. 

Southeast Asia 

Southeast Asia offers a stunning blend of affordability, natural beauty, and welcoming cultures, making it a prime destination for retirees. Here's a closer look at three countries with particularly attractive retirement visa programs: 


Known for its picture-perfect beaches, vibrant nightlife, and delicious cuisine, Thailand is a popular choice for retirees seeking a tropical paradise. The Non-Immigrant “O-A” (long stay) visa, often referred to as the Thailand Retirement Visa, is a relatively affordable option for people who are 50 or older. 

While requirements can change, it typically involves showing a monthly pension or income and maintaining a minimum balance in a Thai bank account. Be aware that visa extensions involve reporting to immigration every 90 days. Once your 3-year stay is complete, apply for permanent resident status or choose another country to explore.  


Another attractive location is Malaysia, which has an MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) program that grants you a ten-year stay in the country. This can be extended and renewed to stay indefinitely. The visa allows multiple entries, tax-free fixed deposits, and off-shore income.  

Malaysia has a well-developed healthcare system with modern facilities and English-speaking professionals. It also has a multicultural society, making it a great choice for those seeking a comfortable and diverse environment.  


If you plan on returning early, the Philippines has got your back. The minimum retirement age is 35 years, so you can apply beforehand. Apply for a Special Resident Retiree's Visa to benefit from the low cost of living while exploring the white sand islands.  

This visa grants indefinite residency with a surprisingly low minimum income requirement, making it a perfect fit for budget-minded retirees. Filipinos are renowned for their hospitality, ensuring a warm and welcoming environment for retirees. English is widely spoken throughout the Philippines, making it easy to navigate daily life. 


Ah, Europe! A continent with rich history, charm, and diverse landscapes. But for retirees, the allure extends far beyond tourism. 

Many European countries offer retirees visa-free access to the Schengen Zone, which encompasses 26 countries. This means you can travel freely between these countries without needing to obtain separate visas for each one. 

Let’s look at the top retirement European countries with retirement visas.  


Portugal offers a delightful climate with warm summers and mild winters, making it a haven for retirees seeking a comfortable and sunny lifestyle. Additionally, it ranks at 6th place in the Global Peace Index, making it one of the most peaceful countries in the world.  

To top it off, the Portugal retirement visa - D7, offers attractive tax benefits on foreign pensions and investment income, further solidifying Portugal's appeal for retirees. After living in the country for five years, you could even be eligible for Portuguese citizenship. 


Spain can be your perfect retirement getaway for balmy evenings on the beach, delicious tapas, and a vibrant culture. But Spain offers more than just a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle. It boasts a surprisingly affordable cost of living, particularly in charming inland towns. The country also has a well-developed healthcare system, making it a great choice for those with ongoing medical needs. 

You can spend your retirement years in Spain through their Non-Lucrative Visa. This visa allows you to reside in Spain as long as you can demonstrate sufficient financial resources to support yourself. The biggest perk of Spain’s retirement visa? After ten years of legal residency and meeting specific requirements, you can apply for permanent residency. 


Italy is famous for its iconic landmarks, delicious food, and charming gondolas. However, what might be more important when settling in Italy is its quality of life. The locals have a great love for good food, leisurely meals, and a strong sense of community - making every day a celebration. 

This focus on enjoying life extends to bureaucratic processes as well. Obtaining an Elective Residence Visa is relatively straightforward, allowing you to experience the Italian dolce vita firsthand. If you're looking to relocate to Italy, the country's large expat community provides a strong support system to help you adjust and connect with others from your home country. 

Other Regions 


Mauritius offers a golfer's paradise with world-class courses and a rich history steeped in democracy and stability. But the real cherry on top? It is a haven for retirees due to no imposition of wealth tax, capital gains tax, or inheritance tax. So you get to enjoy island life full of luxury while saving on taxes that can very well be used for extending your travel budgets. 

Obtaining a Mauritian retirement permit grants you ten years of residency with the chance to apply for permanent residency after just three years. The island's charm and relaxed lifestyle might be worth the slightly higher cost of living compared to some Southeast Asian countries. Plus, English is widely spoken, making settling in a breeze, even if French is the dominant language. 

New Zealand 

New Zealand consistently ranks high in global quality of life indices. This means it has excellent healthcare, a clean environment, and a safe and friendly society – perfect for a relaxed and fulfilling retirement. Hiking, kayaking, and exploring national parks are popular activities for retirees who enjoy the outdoors. 

Unlike Mauritius, New Zealand requires a significant investment to qualify for residency. While the Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa allows you to stay for two years initially, it can be a pathway to permanent residency if you maintain the investment and demonstrate commitment to living in New Zealand. 

What You Need to Move to Another Country Post Retirement 

Many countries welcome retirees with open arms, offering beautiful landscapes, rich cultures, and a slower pace of life. But before you pack your bags, it's crucial to understand the logistics of making your move a smooth transition. 

Meet Visa Requirements 

The first step is securing the right visa. Different countries offer various retirement visa options, such as pensioner visas or residency through investment. So, it's important to understand the specifics of each country's program. Think age restrictions, financial requirements, and even insurance needs – every place has its own set of rules for becoming a resident. 

Financial Resources 

Financial security is a top priority when retiring abroad. You'll need to factor in housing costs, desired lifestyle expenses (including travel!), and basic necessities. ensure you have adequate medical coverage for emergencies – being far from home makes it essential. Researching the cost of living in your chosen country will help you determine the budget needed for a comfortable retirement. 

Passport & Documentation 

A valid passport is a prerequisite for any visa application. Ensure your passport has sufficient validity (usually 6 months or more) to cover your visa application process and initial stay in the new country. 

Apart from your passport, other documents typically required for a retirement visa application are: 

  • Birth Certificate 
  • Proof of Income/Pension (bank statements, pension documentation) 
  • Medical Records (depending on the country) 


Many countries with retirement visas offer public healthcare, but its reliability can vary. Even your existing Medicare and health insurance might not be valid in your new country. Travel insurance for seniors can bridge this gap until you establish residency and qualify for local healthcare. 

Look for travel insurance plans designed specifically for seniors, often offering these key benefits: 

  • Medical Coverage: Look for plans that cover hospitalization, doctor visits, and emergency medical evacuation – crucial for unforeseen situations. 
  • Pre-existing Conditions: Some plans offer coverage for pre-existing conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular issues, asthma, etc.  
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption: These benefits can help recoup expenses if your travel plans are disrupted due to illness or other covered reasons. 

To get travel insurance for seniors, you may discuss your requirements with AXA’s travel insurance specialists.  

FAQs About Countries with Retirement Visa 

Q. What is the minimum age requirement for a retirement visa? 

The minimum age requirement for a retirement visa varies by country but generally falls between 55 and 65 years old. The Philippines is an exception, offering a retirement visa program (SRRV) with a minimum age requirement of 35 years old.  

Q. Do I need to give up my citizenship in my home country? 

The beauty of retirement visas is that you typically don't have to renounce your home country's citizenship. You'll maintain your existing passport while gaining residency rights in your New Haven. 

Q. How long does the retirement visa application process take? 

The processing timeframe can range from a few months to a year, depending on the country and the complexity of your application. It's wise to factor this in when planning your move. 

Q. Can I work while on a retirement visa? 

The retirement visa often comes with a no-work policy. That’s why you need a pension plan or ample finances to live in the host country. Some countries may allow limited work or self-employment. 

Q. How long can I stay outside the country on a retirement visa? 

There might be limitations on how long you can stay outside the country while holding a retirement visa.  Some require regular check-ins or maintaining a minimum residency period per year. 

Q. What healthcare options are available to retirees abroad? 

Healthcare options include public healthcare that may cover medicines and basic tests. You may also get private and international health insurance plans to cover bigger expenses if need be. Make sure you research the system in your chosen country. 

Q. How much income do I need to qualify for a retirement visa? 

The income needed to qualify for a retirement visa can differ substantially.  Some countries require proof of a minimum monthly pension, while others might ask for a set amount in investments or bank deposits. 

Disclaimer: Welcome to the AXA Assistance USA Travel Resources by AXA Assistance USA Travel Insurance! Countries with Retirement Visa Blog is intended to provide you with entertaining and educational information of a general nature. The articles are for editorial purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of a qualified professional. Please contact AXA Assistance USA if you have any questions. AXA Assistance USA, Inc.© 2024 All Rights Reserved. 


Retire in Panama. Embassy of Panama. https://www.embassyofpanamaincanada.com/documentos-notariales-copy 

Requirements for temporary residence in Costa Rica. Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington DC. http://www.costarica-embassy.org/index.php?q=node/147 

Temporary Resident Visa. Gobierno De Mexico. https://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/leamington/index.php/non-mexicans/visas/115-temporary-resident-visa 

MALAYSIA MY SECOND HOME (MM2H). Immigration Department of Malaysia, Ministry of Home Affairs. https://www.imi.gov.my/index.php/en/main-services/malaysia-my-second-home-mmh2-en/ 

THE SRRVISA. Philippine Retirement Authority. https://pra.gov.ph/srrv/ 

D7 Residence VISA. CSC Advogada. https://www.portuguese-nationality.com/residency/the-d7-visa-portugal 

Non-lucrative residence visa (NLV). Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Unión Europea y Cooperación. https://www.exteriores.gob.es/Consulados/Manchester/en/ServiciosConsulares/Paginas/Consular/Visado-de-residencia-no-lucrativa.aspx 

Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa. New Zealand Immigration. https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/visas/visa/temporary-retirement-visitor-visa  


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