Connect with us


Expat retirement: abroad vs home – Phuket Finance

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: If you have been an expat for a good portion of your adult or working life, you may be wondering whether to retire abroad or return to your home country to retire.

However, before you decide to become either a permanent expat or a returnee, you will need to take into account the following considerations:

Your Retirement Income
The cost of living “back home” may have risen so much during your time abroad that returning on your retirement income will mean a much lower standard of living.

The good news is that inflation tends to be much lower in developed countries than in the emerging markets that are popular retirement destinations, meaning the low interest rates your investments might be getting right now, and for the foreseeable future, may be enough to at least get by on without many worries.

Moreover, not returning home for some nationalities (British) can mean frozen pension incomes.

Housing Back Home

Even if you have a good retirement income, returning home to a place like San Francisco or London, where housing has gotten very expensive, may not be financially viable without a large mortgage if you did not maintain a residence in such pricey locations.

And having a mortgage as a retiree on a fixed income is usually not a smart financial move.
Tax Home Situation

Living abroad for most retirees who aren’t US citizens (and thus subject to worldwide taxation) will likely mean significantly lower taxes.

However, taxes may not matter much when making a decision if you will be on a relatively low fixed or investment income while American retirees have 50 states with 50 different tax regimes to choose from.

Cost of Retirement Visas
Returning to your home country will not require you to tie up potentially large sums of money in retirement visa deposits in non-home country currencies and pay annual expenses to maintain such visas.

Likewise, there is always the risk of retirement visa rules or requirements changing or becoming more financially onerous – forcing you to leave.

Standard of Living
If you have gotten accustomed to living in places where expats enjoy a very high standard of living (live-in domestic help), returning home will likely be much more of a culture shock. After all, it’s usually only the truly rich in developed countries that enjoy live-in domestic help – something that may become more of a necessity rather than a luxury as you get older.

Personal Health
The older you are, the more difficult it will be to buy affordable health insurance as there is usually an age cut-off date while government health care programs for retirees rarely cover citizens when they are living abroad.

A possible compromise might be to retire abroad in an inexpensive location close to your home country (Mexico if you are American or Canadian) so that it’s possible to easily return to your home country for a major and expensive medical emergency.

Living in places like Thailand where the weather is usually hot and humid, plus there is an annual rainy season, may become harder to bear the older you are while “winter” in the tropics may actually be relatively cold when you consider homes usually don’t have central heating of any kind.

On the other hand, if you have spent a good portion of your life abroad in warm tropical climates, you might find returning home to a northern latitude to be an even more difficult adjustment when you are older.

Family, Friends, Others
If you have been an expat for many years, you may not have many close family or friends left in your home country who can assist you in any way. That could make integrating back into your home country even more difficult as it might be hard to find a social circle of friends you can relate to as you have no doubt missed out on a lot of events and cultural or political changes while living abroad.

Don Freeman is president of Freeman Capital Management, a Registered Investment Advisor with the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), based in Phuket, Thailand. He has over 15 years experience and provides personal financial planning and wealth management to expatriates. Specializing in UK and US pension transfers. Call 089-970-5795 or email:

Keep checking the Gazette’s business pages for the latest local and national business news updates affecting Phuket and Thailand. Alternatively, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter.

— Don Freeman


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 mins ago

Kanchanaburi prison field hospital for 379 Covid-19 cases

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 hour ago

Covid-19 train sends 1,490 infected from Bangkok to hometowns

Thailand3 hours ago

Covid-19 Poll: People trust doctors, social media, 85% confused.

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 hours ago

Record high as Chon Buri hits nearly 800 Covid-19 infections

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 hours ago

Covid outbreak closes Nakhon Si Thammarat rubberwood processing factory

Thailand7 hours ago

Nearly 600 temples now offering free cremation services

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand8 hours ago

Phetchabun chicken processing plant sees over 3,000 infections

Phuket8 hours ago

New Covid-19 infections drop, still worrisome for Phuket Sandbox

Phuket8 hours ago

Phuket “car mob” protest demands the removal of PM, calls for mRNA vaccines

Thailand9 hours ago

Samut Sakhon Governor Veerasak offers to resign if communication in his province doesn’t improve

Coronavirus (Covid-19)9 hours ago

Sunday Covid Update: 15,335 new cases; provincial totals

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Covid UPDATE: 15,335 new infections, provincial numbers

Coronavirus Infections10 hours ago

DDC says infections still rising, possibly falling in Bangkok

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

DDC says use the QueQ app to book appointment at sports stadium in Pathum Thani

Business11 hours ago

Inside story behind the Thailand property seachange

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8