Survey Reveals U.S. Citizens Want to Retire Early and Move Out of the U.S.—

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The results of The Annual International Living Retirement Survey 2020 reveal that those polled are motivated to move out of the U.S. for the cost savings, a majority believe the United States did not handle the pandemic well, and nearly half of respondents are interested in retiring early.

International Living Survey

International Living Survey

“At International Living in recent weeks we’ve watched the volume of search traffic surge around the subject of moving outside the U.S.,” says Jennifer Stevens, International Living’s Executive Editor. “The uncertainty surrounding the election, the pandemic, and the economy seem to be driving people in greater numbers to seek alternatives for the future.

“Well before this period of volatility, however, retiring overseas made good sense. For more than four decades, we’ve been bringing our IL readers good alternatives—pinpointing options overseas where people can live better but spend less, enjoy warm weather year-round, slow down and lower their stress levels, gain greater health, travel more, and experience an immersive adventure in retirement.

“In the State today, retirement itself is becoming the prerogative of the wealthy alone. But in the right places overseas, a modest income—even a Social Security check alone—can bankroll a truly comfortable life.”

International Living recently surveyed its readers—before the pandemic struck and then again a few months into it—to ask them about their motivations for investigating their overseas options.

The survey results include revealing nuggets:

  • Nearly half of respondents say they’re interested in retiring earlier than age 65—in good-value places overseas that’s more possible than it is in the U.S.
  • Among respondents, the greatest motivator for exploring overseas options is the potential cost savings (45%).
  • Other motivations include seeking a better climate (12%), a new cultural experience (10%), and escaping politics at home (8%).
  • Nearly one-third (27%) of respondents say they’d like to rove around in retirement rather than have a single home base.
  • More than 70% of respondents say the U.S. handled the pandemic poorly.
  • 20% of respondents say the U.S. handling of the pandemic has increased their interest in retiring overseas.

The Annual International Living Retirement Survey 2020 Examined

The decision to move abroad is not to be taken lightly. A lot of planning and preparation is needed. But 63% of those polled reveal they want to move overseas. That figure is split down the middle as far as full- and part-timers.

Both are good options. Being a full-time expat allows folks to fully immerse in a new country and culture. Part-timing can provide the best of both worlds—friends and family at home, and great winter weather and lower costs in an overseas haven.

The appeal of lower-cost, high-quality healthcare, which is available in many countries, motivates survey respondents. For many, the medical system in the U.S. is broken. And in the time of the pandemic, they have become even more concerned, with 71.6% of respondents stating the country has not handled the pandemic well.

For more than 40 years, International Living has helped people create rewarding new lives abroad. The publication has seen a 1,600% increase in search volume around the term ‘move out of the US’ since May 2020. Part of that increase may be driven by dissatisfaction with the U.S. coronavirus situation. 20% of survey responders cite more interest in moving overseas due to the pandemic.

The majority of International Living readers are considering life overseas as retirees—many years earlier than they might be able to retire at home. 40.3% of respondents said they’d like to retire between the ages of 55 and 65. That might be unfeasible in the U.S., where the cost of healthcare alone can make keeping a job that helps fund healthcare coverage an imperative. But in the best-value places overseas, costs are much lower than in the States—on healthcare and everything else—and that can allow people to retire not only better, but years earlier, than they could in the U.S.

An outlier – 10% of respondents don’t want to retire at all. Many say they are hoping to keep working—perhaps at creating a business they’ve always dreamed of or, instead, earning extra income online through activities like as teaching English, freelancing in any number of fields, or consulting.

When asked how they plan to fund their retirement, responders report they’ll rely on a variety of sources. 75% stated Social Security and/or savings and investments would fund their retirement abroad. 45.5% said they will rely on a pension. A full 27% say they intend to augment their funds by freelancing or consulting.

The full survey findings can be found, here: The Annual International Living Retirement Survey

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For information about content republishing, source material or to book an interview with one of our experts, contact PR Managing Editor, Marita Kelly, +001 667 312 3532,
Twitter: @inliving


About International Living

Since 1979, has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. has contributors traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.

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