If you are a veteran and are looking to retire in Belize or another country with a warm climate, it is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of retiring outside of the U.S.

You must also apply for a retirement visa and have a thorough understanding of the rules of retirement in a different country. If you are living abroad, you may still take advantage of various Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. For instance, the International Treasury Services will not charge you a currency conversion fee, and you may qualify for a Specially Adaptive Housing grant.

Furthermore, medical care for service-connected disabilities will be covered through the VA Foreign Medical Program. A retirement calculator may help you plan and determine what type of retirement you can afford. Your finances must be in order regardless of whether you retire inside or outside of the U.S. Discover more about the best places to retire as a veteran. 

How to Use a Retirement Calculator as a Veteran

To find the best retirement calculator, you must research several different websites. You may consider trying more than one calculator to compare different outcomes. As a veteran, it is also important to use retirement calculators that incorporate your VA benefits and any other government benefits you may receive. 

For example, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers a free retirement calculator that factors in your salary, savings, pension, Social Security benefits, preferred lifestyle and more. You may determine whether your retirement plan is over budget and how much you need to save to have the lifestyle of your choice. Once you have organized your finances and determined your retirement plan, you are ready to research your desired vacation spots. 

Retirement Options for Veterans Outside the U.S.

When moving to a new location, it is always a good idea to research the visa and residency requirements. Each country has its own immigration laws and residency laws, and you must be compliant if you want to have a successful retirement. 

It is also a good idea to check the vaccine recommendations for the area in which you want to live and whether there are currency restrictions. Finally, make sure that you visit the website of the U.S. State Department for travel and safety warnings in specific countries. 

While retirement communities may offer veterans a well-maintained home and stable lifestyle, there are many options outside of the U.S. that are worth considering. A few of the best places to retire outside of the U.S. are listed below.

Belize

Many Americans seek a Belize retirement for the country’s beautiful beaches, the large presence of English speakers and the cheaper cost of living. In fact, retirees may pay for most items in this country with U.S. money. While it is more expensive to live in Belize than countries such as Mexico or Guatemala, the dollar will go further than it would in the U.S. 

By retiring in Belize, you may enroll in the Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) program, through which the Belizean government will give you a tax exemption on any income earned outside of Belize. Passive incomes, such as pensions or Veterans benefits will also count for this tax exemption. Furthermore, you only need to be 45 years of age to qualify, and you only need to spend one month of the year in Belize. 

Note that there may be downsides to living in Belize. For instance, you may have a difficult time fulfilling all your health care needs if you have a serious condition. In cases of emergency, however, an international plan may provide you with evacuation coverage. It is also important to remember that the summer months can get extremely hot and humid.

Mexico

You may choose to retire in Mexico for the warm weather, beautiful scenery and the wide variety of entertainment options. Mexico City is home to many historic landmarks, the Bosque de Chapultepec, the Frida Kahlo museum and more. 

Mexico is also considered one of the best places to retire because of the low cost of living. While expenses will vary depending on where you live and your lifestyle, you may be able to get a lot of bang for your buck. Many merchants also accept U.S. currency in place of pesos. 

Note that the U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings for certain states in Mexico. Areas of Mexico that have lower crime rates include Baja California, Campeche, Chiapas, Hidalgo and Tobasco.

If you need access to medical facilities, make sure that you research different hospitals and different health insurance providers. 

Portugal

U.S. veterans and seniors may want to retire in Portugal to experience its beautiful coastline and historical architecture. Though it may not be as inexpensive as Mexico, Portugal has one of the lowest costs of living out of any Western European country. However, the cost of living may increase in the heart of major cities such as Lisbon.

Retiring in Portugal has its advantages and disadvantages. The country experiences a relatively mild winter, though the winter is also very rainy. Summers can become much hotter, and the beaches may become crowded. 

U.S. citizens must obtain a residence permit to move to Portugal. Though it is much easier for citizens in the European Union (E.U.) to obtain permits, Portugal has taken steps in recent years to make the process more welcoming to citizens outside of the E.U. 

You must also purchase an international health insurance plan in the U.S. in order to apply for residence. Once you arrive in Portugal, you may purchase a private insurance plan to cover health care costs instead, though this may come with disadvantages.

Panama

You may want to retire in Panama for the low cost of living, as with certain other Latin American countries. This tropical location is also known for its beaches and islands, lush mountains and the modern Panama City. 

Retiring in Panama comes with its own set of disadvantages. Many expatriates report difficulty driving in different cities due to a lack of road signs, traffic jams, potholes and more. Additionally, the mosquitos in the area may spread deadly diseases. 

On the other hand, the country offers U.S. veterans and seniors unique retirement benefits, such as the Pensionado Visa. You may qualify for this visa if you have a lifetime pension or receive SSI benefits of at least $1,000 per month. 

Perks of the visa include 25 percent off domestic and international flights, 50 percent off certain forms of entertainment, 30 percent off public transportation, 25 percent off restaurants and 25 percent off utilities.