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The Five Safest Countries Where Americans Can Retire

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For many Americans, those already retired, or soon-to-be, the thought of relocating abroad permanently is becoming more significant by each passing year. The uncertain economic challenges which have pushed up the cost of living, unruly politics, and the pandemic only further highlighted the many obstacles that stand between them and their retirement.

In some instances, for retirees, and those now permanently leaving the workforce, the thought of not having enough money or savings to outlive their retirement can leave them easily anxiety-riddled.

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A survey published in 2020, found that the average American over the age of 65 years, spends at least $47,579 annually on living expenses.

When you start to factor in the cost of housing ($17,435 annually) and health care ($6,668 annually), on top of painstaking high inflation and soaring interest rates - the cost of retirement is starting to rank up a bill many Americans in the near future won’t be able to afford.

While many retirees used the pandemic, and ensuing lockdowns as a way to retire early, and migrate to a different state or city - the same is now happening to a number of Americans looking to rather retire abroad.

When you look at the reasons why many other foreign nationals look to relocate to the United States, factors including better quality of living, affordable health care, safety, cost of living, and social security - you start to understand why so many Americans are also choosing to settle abroad when living out their golden years.

As a matter of fact, it’s been found that around 13% of U.S. workers and retirees aspire to live abroad during their retirement. The allure of the foreign world, and its seemingly affordable quality of living is what’s driving the needle for many to start packing up their lives, and hop across the pond.

Just as we’ve seen with retirement here in America, doing so abroad comes with a whole list of questions when you start to plan. For many, it may be related to cost-factors, or where they will choose to stay. Others think of choosing a country with good public and private health care. Though these are important, safety remains a top priority for many retirees.

Safety and peaceful living has become an increasing concern for not only retirees, but many other Americans as well.

The 2022 Global Peace Index ranked America 129th on the list of the most peaceful countries in the world, far below its developed allies. In terms of domestic safety and peace, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Utah ranked as the top five safest states to reside, while Louisiana, Tennessee, Nevada and Florida ranked as the lowest.

Whether you choose to stay in America, or perhaps take the risk of immigrating abroad for retirement, it’s important to take a deep dive into the level of public safety when deciding on a country.

Whether it’s in Europe, East Asia, or even Central America and the Middle East - here are the top five safest countries for Americans to retire in.

  1. Iceland

The small Nordic island nation, known as the land of “Fire and Ice” and with a population of just over 340,000 has been ranked the safest and most peaceful country in the world for 13 consecutive years.

The low crime rates and high level of trust among citizens has ranked the country as one of the best places to live. The country is so safe, their national police don't carry firearms, and Iceland is one of a handful of countries in the world that doesn't have a national military.

Other than the safety and high levels of peace, weather in Iceland also plays a big role in why some Americans may choose to move here for retirement. The island is a cold, and often snowy region as it is well-located far north in the Atlantic ocean.

Though the weather might scare some retirees, the country boasts with immaculate public health care, and the government has imposed strong laws that help to uplift and promote equality in the public sphere and in the workplace.

  1. New Zealand

Another small island nation, located in the Pacific ocean, right off the coast of Australia, New Zealand has in recent years become a popular choice for many Americans who are looking to enjoy a peaceful and comfortable retirement.

The land of the Kiwi’s has also been categorized as the second most peaceful country in the world according to the 2022 Global Peace Index.

While the country does boast plenty of natural wonders, and incredible scenery, there are strict financial requirements for temporary and parent retirement visas. This does make it a bit harder for soon-to-be retired Americans to choose New Zealand as their country of retirement, but the quality of life is perhaps worth the hassles.

While the country did experience a major terrorist attack back in 2019, the country has since improved its public awareness ans safety measures, both within the country and at ports of entry.

Aside from its safety, the country was also one of only a few that were able to see the least amount of COVD-19 related infections during the height of the pandemic, which only shows the country’s ability to work together in times of crisis.

  1. Portugal

Throughout the last couple of years, Portugal has become an attractive option for many foreign nationals who wish to retire in the European country.

Though safety and peace in the country does rank it quite high among other European nations, the country was found to also be one of the most affordable places to reside.

For pensioners, it’s possible to live off their Social Security benefits, which is usually around $1,400 in a smaller city. For retirees who are open to live a bit more luxurious, a monthly $2,000 budget would give you all the best experiences in a bigger city such as Lisbon or Porto.

Aside from its easy living standards, the country recently introduced new visas, specifically aimed at foreign residents who are looking to permanently relocate to the country and obtain permanent residency.

To make matters even more alluring, due to the influx of foreigners, the government introduced the Non-Habitual Residence Status (NHR) for foreigners which exempts them from paying tax on foreign income or their pension under specific requirements.

  1. Singapore

Perhaps something completely different than what many people may be used to, but Singapore has in recent years become one of the best places to live, and retire in terms of quality of life and public safety.

The country has a very high standard towards public safety, and most of the residents have cited having a positive experience with the country’s law enforcement. Singapore also has some of the strictest penalties for any sort of crime, which in return has made it a place with some of the lowest crime rates in the world.

Across the board, Singaporean security infrastructure is well-advanced, as the country has implemented measures that help to protect citizens and residents, both within the country and online. There is also a high sense of health security, and the country has imposed new regulations for digital safety.

While the country has now specific visa requirements for retirement, they do offer various residency permits which will need to be obtained in the country itself. On average, the cost of living is relatively low, with some major Singapore cities being 20.3% cheaper than some places in the U.S.

  1. Denmark

Another European nation that has for the last couple of years ranked as one of the best places to live in terms of peace and safety. The country, which bridges between continental Europe and the Nordics offer many retirees some peace of mind, and a high quality of living.

Denmark is also considered to be one of the happiest nations in the world, as people continuously report feeling safe and at peace with the local environment. The country does take pride in its social welfare, which only helps to further improve the overall happiness of the residents.

Permanent residents will be able to enjoy free access to health care, and free education, while elderly residents are provided with at-home care helpers. Because the country is a welfare state, this helps to improve the quality of living, making it overall more comfortable and enjoyable to live in Denmark.

Another benefit of living here is that residents have easy access to the rest of Europe, and other European Union nations. This makes it easier, and more convenient to travel across the continent.

The Bottom Line

Moving abroad for retirement does take a bit of planning, and it does mean that you will be separated from your family for months, even years on end. While living abroad may not be part of many people’s retirement plans, it’s a good idea to consider the possibilities of moving to a different country that helps to promote and improve public safety and welfare.

While there are dozens of suitable, and peaceful countries to choose from, retirees should consider their needs before simply packing up their lives in America and relocating abroad.

Make sure to choose a country where the culture difference won’t become a barrier for you to enjoy your golden years. Additionally, consider factors including your health, and mobility against the backdrop of a country that can help make it easier for you to move around more freely or receive medical attention when required.

All-in-all, it’s not that bad of an idea to relocate abroad, especially if you feel that your personal safety is being threatened. Be sensible, and talk to others about it beforehand, but what’s more important, choose a lifestyle you want to enjoy throughout your final years.