Book review: Retiring Abroad

Retiring Abroadby Ben West is a book for British retirees considering retiring abroad. I also looked at a few similar books for American retirees but decided to review this one instead, because this is the only one with any mention of retiring to India.

According to the book, about a million British retirees currently live abroad.

This book gives a good insight into the motivations and preferences of Brits retiring abroad. The top 10 destinations that they are retiring to are, in order, Spain, Australia, France, USA, Canada, South Africa, Cyprus, New Zealand, Jamaica and Italy.

An increase in affluence which enables a lot of retirees to travel and live abroad, and a desire for warmer weather appear to be the main motivations for leaving the UK. A lower cost of living is a motivation for only a fraction of the retirees. In fact, about half of the above retirement destinations are more expensive to live in than the UK.

I learned several things about retirement for Britons from this book:

  • British nationals have the right to live, work and retire in any EU country, provided that they apply for any required residence permits.
  • The UK state pension (equivalent of the US social security) is paid in full and is adjusted yearly for inflation anywhere in the EU, and in a few other selected countries. But in most other countries, including Australia, Canada, India and South Africa, they are "frozen", i.e., not adjusted for inflation. This seems like it would be a major problem for British retirees considering retiring to these countries. As I noted previously in my post on social security for overseas retirees, there are no such restrictions on social security benefits for US retirees abroad, at least under current law.
  • British expatriates in many countries find that local income taxes start at a higher income level than in the UK, so they do not pay any or much income tax. Also, UK has double taxation agreements with most countries, including India, which will prevent them from paying taxes on the same income twice.
  • EU citizens, working or retired, have the right to use the health services of other member states in the same way as local citizens.

The book provides detailed profiles of 34 countries that are apparently popular with British retirees. The only Asian country in this list is Dubai (which technically is not a country). It also has an appendix with very brief profiles of 13 more countries, including India, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

The section on India is exactly 1-page long, and not surprisingly, lists only two places: Goa and Kerala.

This is what it says about Goa (the US dollar conversions are mine):

The former Portuguese colony of Goa on India's west coast is considered a beautiful place to live. With land prices and salaries in India a fraction of their UK counterparts, you can buy a sizable land and build a luxurious residence for £50,000 (about $100,000).

The Goan resort of Candolim on the Arabian sea is popular with the British; newly-built apartments are available for around £12,000 (about $24,000). Calangute and Baga are also popular.

Browsing current property listings for Goa, these prices do not seem too far off the mark, considering the run-up in property values in many places in India in recent years. Note that this book was published in 2005.

And about Kerala, it says:

Another popular area is Kerala in southern India, which has been an increasingly popular tourist destination in recent years. A large modern villa at Ernakulam or Thiruvananthapuram costs from £35,000 (about $70,000). The cost of living is cheap too; it is possible to have a three-course meal for an amazing 50p (about $1).
Current property listings for Kerala are available here. I am planning a separate post on the accuracy of such cost-of-living comparisons for India.

Another fact mentioned is the following:

The Indian government is also considering granting citizenship to non-resident Indians, which would greatly increase the number of people who would consider investing there, further raising prices.

As I posted previously in my post on Overseas citizenship of India, this has already happened, although this so-called "overseas citizenship" is not quite the same as a full citizenship. The prediction about the increase in investments by non-resident Indians also has proved to be correct.

I have skipped over most of the material in this book and focused on what interested me; it is indeed a good resource for British and EU folks looking for a retirement destination and trying to compare the available options.

Related posts:


stryderman1649 said...

A book called "Getting Out" covers over 60 Countries and the things expats need to know like cost of living, visas, government and policies relating to laws concerning drugs, women's rights and treatment,gay and lesbian treatment and laws....very comprehensive. Interviews with Americans that live in those Countries and rents or buying property. 2nd edition is out so it has been Ehrman and Nelson.

g said...

Best city for single white 60 year old female with no family connections in India?? I have many pen pals in India, does that count? Ha!