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Retirement

Best countries to retire in and why

07 February 2017
Looking for a good country to retire abroad? Try the ‘lesser’ Americas
 

By Anik Basu

Those who have read David Copperfield by Charles Dickens will remember the delightful Wilkins Micawber, whose memorable tip on money management is today irreverently known as “the Micawber Principle”.

In other words, the loveable Mr Micawber warns, reckless spending spells an uncertain future.

An uncertain future is also often brought about by retirement, especially when one’s income is stagnant in times of galloping prices.

Fortunately, there are some countries that actively court retired expats from all countries – and not necessarily American, usually the most favoured nationality.

Mr Micawber, who was himself buffeted by a series of life blows that he faced cheerily, finally settled down in Australia as a successful bank manager and magistrate.

Related: 5 retirement planning blunders to avoid

For the Indian retiree, there are a few other options – and they come with sops for retired settlers; some of these countries are listed below:

BELIZE

Formerly the British Honduras, Belize is a Central American country with the Caribbean Sea on its east, offering the Qualified Retirement Person (QRP) programme for those who want to retire in the country.

Actually, to take advantage of the QPR initiative, one need not necessarily have to be retired or even nearing retirement, but the applicant’s age must be 45 years and above.

This apart, the applicant must furnish proof of ability to deposit a monthly income of at least $2,000 every month, and spend at least a month in Belize.

The regulations require proof of a pension or any regular income, though the authorities have no issues if the applicant can show he or she can transfer $24,000 a year, as many settlers do not have pensions. This transfer can be a one-time affair annually, or made monthly in equal instalments.

Related: 

Retirees are allowed to bring household goods without paying import duties during their first year as a QRP resident.

Belizeans banks deem QRPs settlers as non-residents, who are allowed to conduct economic activity as long as it is abroad conducted exclusively with non-residents. QRP employment is narrowed down to consultancies.

Belize is also a safe tax haven.

 

1 Belizean dollar = 33.84 Indian rupees (as of Jan 27, 2017)

ECUADOR

Ecuador in South America should appeal to the naturist among retirees; its geographical contours cover bits of the Amazon jungles, the Andes and the wildlife-rich Galapagos Islands.

 

It also dangles some very attractive incentives to go with the wildlife.

Ecuador’s has a discount programme for its senior citizens, but as the country’s constitution guarantees foreign residents the same rights as Ecuadoreans, retired expats aged 65 or older, can enjoy the same benefits as locals.

For senior Indian citizens looking for incentives to retire overseas, Ecuador  has a lot to offer, some of the benefits of its over-65 discount programme being:

Another popular discount for residents over the age of 65 including foreigners is the 50% airfare waiver on international travel on Taca, Copa Airlines and AeroGal flights.

The scheme, which is not part of the official discount programme, applies to round-trip tickets purchased for flights originating within the country.

Ecuador also has a charming law to help residents over the age of 65 years: they do not have to stand in queue when making a bank deposit or paying a utility bill; the law allows a senior citizen to walk up to the front of the line.

After the recent harassment at the ATM kiosks, that should be a pleasure.

Currency: The US dollar

NICARAGUA

The American broadcaster MSNBC once labelled Nicaragua as “The World’s Best Kept Retirement Secret”, while the US News and World Report – a rankings-focussed newsweekly – rated it among the top 10 retirement spots globally.

This Central American country tied for first place (cheapest place to live) in International Living’s 2015 cost-of-living index; today, thanks to this and its investment opportunities in real estate and low property taxes, it is a favourite among Americans, Canadians and Europeans contemplating retired life overseas.

With an eye on encouraging investment in the country, the Nicaraguan government provides significant tax incentives for foreigners. Its Retiree Benefit Programme makes life so easy for retirees that those just approaching retirement can retire 10, perhaps 15 years earlier than planned – if Nicaragua is kept in mind.

People aged as young as 45 years can avail of the “retiree” programme, provided they have a monthly income of at least $600.

The benefits come mostly in the form of tax incentives or permissions, such as:

This apart, foreigners can open a local bank account, make purchases on credit, and get a Nicaraguan phone plan.

Add to the financial incentives Nicaragua’s breathtaking coastline, colonial cities and the mountains. The urban hubs to remember: the colonial cities of Granada and Leon, the capital of Managua, and San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast with its beachfront properties, and the town of Matagalpa in the mountains.

1 Nicaragua cordoba = 2.32 Indian rupees (as of Jan 27, 2017)

PANAMA

Unlike Ecuador’s pension scheme, Panama’s pensionado programme is designed for foreign residents.

Introduced in 1987, this scheme from yet another Central America country is to this day one of most popular retiree residence programmes in the world, boasting of some very attractive benefits.

Under the programme, expat pensionados can live in Panama for as long as they like, and are entitled to a wide range of money-saving discounts.

Currency: The US dollar (Panama also has the local currency balboa, worth the same as the US dollar, but not available as paper notes).

So the next time you think about how difficult it’s going to be to afford a retired life abroad, maybe look beyond President Trump’s playground!

 
 
 

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