A third of retirees shorten their expatriation

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Published 2020-03-03 11:27

A survey run by Expat.com in November 2019 aims at uncovering the repatriation habits of expatriates. An important part of the survey was dedicated to understanding the approach of retirees to settling abroad. When they plan to live abroad, do they leave for a set duration or do they want to settle abroad permanently? And do they change their minds while abroad? The current survey shows that one in three retirees shorten their expatriation.

Twenty-eight percent. This is the proportion of expat retirees who shorten their time abroad. Indeed out of the 1200 expat retirees surveyed, they were almost one in three to have stated having decided to shorten their expatriation once abroad. Why? Health issues tended to be the most cited reason for shortening one’s expatriation. However, language, administrative procedures, climate and family also seemed to be a reason why expat retirees choose to cut their life abroad short.

It is worth noting that only 22% of retirees settle abroad temporarily. The other 78% of retirees had initially decided to settle abroad for good. The main reason cited for wanting to retire abroad on a permanent basis was economic reasons, meaning that retirees would be better off economically in their host country. The number one country for those who have decided to settle abroad for economic reasons was Portugal. Portugal was also the top country for retirees who were looking for a better quality of life.

Unsurprisingly, the top three countries for retirement abroad were Portugal in first position, Thailand and finally Spain. However, there seems to be a tendency for expats choosing to retire in Spain to shorten their expatriation once abroad. It is worth noting that Spain was the second country choice for those who wanted to settle abroad permanently, right behind Portugal.The reason behind this tendency was not further investigated.

On the other hand, 72% of expat retirees do not seem to want to shorten their expatriation. The main reasons they put forward are the lifestyle and quality of life in their host country, financial reasons and the situation prevailing in their home country.


  • 70% of retired respondents were male and 30% were female

  • The expat retirees who responded to the survey seemed to mainly be between 65 and 74 years old (59%) although a small percentage were aged 55 to 64 (29%), above 75 (9%) and between 45 and 54 (3%).

  • 46% of respondents were French and 19% were American. The others were scattered between Canadians, Australians, Swiss, South Africans etc...