Tips for retiring overseas

Last week, we published an article looking at why Australia’s baby boomers were on the move, and ditching the traditional view of retirement to move overseas for a better and vastly cheaper life.

Glen and Sal shared their story of packing up and moving from central NSW to Phuket in Thailand, where they are now settled in a life of luxury and affordability.

John, 62, is another Australian who has decided to move overseas in order to make a lifestyle change. Working as a barrister in Sydney, John was an outwardly successful man – but he found he didn’t enjoy life to the absolute fullest. Though he had a great house, great friends and was making reasonable money, John wasn’t happy.

‘I was bored. I was just representing the same type of criminals all the time, drug traffickers and the like, and it was getting to the point that I was looking for new challenges in life.’

John was also overweight. ‘I was very concerned about my health,’ he added.

After visiting some friends in Vietnam, John decided to pack up and take off. He rented out his home and that easily covers his accommodation and the bulk of his lifestyle in HoChiMinh City (Saigon).

He lives in a 3 bedroom two bathroom apartment in the central leafy part of the city and pays just $1000 a month.

John was rejuvenated and his health dramatically improved.

John Edit

Whether you live overseas for three months, three years or permanently, before you pack up and take off, here are some basic issues you need to cover first.

Get your finances in order before you leave

Make sure that your superannuation pension stays tax free while you are overseas. If you have a self-managed super fund, it will need to be restructured to ensure it remains a complying fund. If you are relying on the age pension for income, you will need to be eligible for, and already receiving, that pension before you relocate.

Organise your long-stay visas from Australia.

There are retirement visas available in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. You will need long stay visas for Europe unless you have an EU passport.

Take out an international health insurance policy

It is worth the expense. There is a very competitive global market for health insurance products. Use sites like to compare products.

Rent before you buy in your new country

It may be best not to buy at all – property rules for foreigners can be complex and, in Southeast Asia at least, rents are cheap.

Get on top of technology.

Get set on Skype, Viber and Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family

  • Sell Up Pack Up and Take Off is written by Stephen Wyatt and Colleen Ryan, and published by Allen and Unwin.
  • For more information and where to purchase the book go to