Retirement in a different country

I live in Edmonton where the winters are cold and long, which is why many people desire to retire somewhere warmer. That might be in a different province with a better climate or maybe even a different country altogether. Some people prefer to be a snowbird, which is a term for people who still reside in Canada but go down south for those cold and long winters.

Before you leave the country be sure to review and evaluate all the implications of leaving. There is a range of choices for senior housing, and no simple answer as to which one is right for you. Here are some of the issues in evaluating your options:

Access to medical care

No one can predict the future. However, if you or a loved one has a chronic medical condition that is expected to worsen over time, it’s especially important to think about how you will handle health and mobility problems. What are the common complications of your condition, and how will you handle them? Are you already at the point where you need daily help?

Location and accessibility

Even if you are completely independent at this time, circumstances can change. It pays to think a little about your current location and accessibility of your current home. For example, how far is your home from shopping, medical facilities, or other services? If you can no longer drive, what kind of transportation access will you have? Can your home be easily modified? Does it have a lot of steps, stairs, or a steep hill to navigate? Do you have a large yard that needs to be maintained?

Social support

For many people, social support in retirement is important because no one wants to be lonely. It’s important to think about how easy is it for you to visit friends, neighbors, or engage in hobbies that you enjoy? If it becomes difficult or impossible for you to leave your home, you’ll become isolated and depression can rapidly set in.

Caregiving support

You will want to consider housing where both your current and future needs can be met. Do you have family or other support available nearby? Traditionally, the family has provided the backbone of caregiving support for older adults. In today’s times, though, a family may not be as readily available due to distance, work, children, or other commitments. Even if family members can commit to caregiving, they might not be able to fill in all the gaps if physical and medical needs become extreme. The more thought you put into your future, the better chance your needs will be met.


Making a budget with anticipated expenses can help you weigh the pros and cons of your situation. Alternate arrangements like assisted living can be expensive, but extensive in-home help can also rapidly mount in cost, especially at higher levels of care and live-in or 24-hour coverage.


Obviously taxes are an important consideration because it’s not how much you make that counts but how much you keep after-tax that matters more. Will income tax be higher or lower? Are there other consumption taxes like sales tax? What about property taxes and duties?

Access to government benefits

If you move out of the country, it’s important to see if that will impact on your government benefits like Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Old Age Security (OAS).

Practice before you go

The best advice I can give those people thinking about retiring abroad is to practice retirement by living abroad for extended periods of time. Use your vacation time or take a leave of absence to see how you will like it over longer periods of time. Every time you go, you will learn something new.

What other considerations should you think about before leaving the country in retirement?


  1. Jaurais Voulu

    Besides what everybody knows, it would be helpful to have some substance.

  2. jean gobbi

    The article posts a lot of questions which I would have thought of asking but does not give many answers. What a disappointment.

Leave a reply

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