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Retiring to the USA

United States of America (USA) - Retiring to the USA

The USA has long been an attractive destination for expat retirees. Some people make the move to take advantage of the favourable exchange rate and get more for their money. Others are lured by sunny skies; Florida, in particular, provides an appealing lifestyle for the retired population. Before packing your bags and heading to the US to live out your retirement dream, there are several financial and residency issues to be aware of.

Visa requirements

There is no such thing as a “retirement visa” for the US, so if you are intending to retire there permanently you will need to plan to have Permanent Resident status by then or some other visa. Otherwise you will only be able to spend a maximum of 6 months out of every 12 in the US. Thousands of Europeans spend the winter months in Florida on a B-2 Tourist Visa because of this limitation.

Pension payment issues

If you are importing your pension, you must check taxation laws in the USA. Also, you may have to set up a special forwarding system so that your pension benefits can be delivered to you at your American location. As always with financial matters, seek independent professional advice.

Entitlements and benefits

You may well find that you have reduced the benefits you will obtain by moving to the USA as some of the servicing organizations do not exist there. You should be aware that as a foreigner you will have fewer entitlements to American services, such as Social Security, during your retirement.

Health insurance

While health insurance is not mandatory in the US like it is in some countries, it is highly advisable that you purchase some kind of health insurance. Health care costs in the US are the most expensive in the world, and there is no national health care service in place. Most employers provide health insurance to employees at a free or reduced rate (i.e., the employer and the employee each contribute a percentage to the health insurance provider). Many retired people in the US also have access to Medicare. As an expat retiree, however, chances are that you will not qualify for Medicare, so you will need to purchase your own health insurance. There are a number of companies that provide private health insurance (see Health Insurance section for more details). Be aware, however, that retired persons (particularly those with pre-existing conditions) may face higher premiums, so if you still plan to maintain a residence in your home country for at least part of the year, it might be worth purchasing insurance from an international insurance company, such as Bupa.


Making a living will is as simple or complex as your estate. It requires an attorney and a few simple documents. You should ask an American attorney which nations' wills are recognized within the US. Be sure to contact an American attorney regarding certified English translations of your will, and to fully understand any discrepancies created by the differences in legal systems and in interpretations of monetary value.

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Expat Focus Preferred Health Insurance Partners

Bupa International

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you\'re moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.