Retiring abroad as a solo expat woman

  • solo woman traveller
Published on 2022-08-02 at 14:00 by Ester Rodrigues
Preparing for retirement is an exciting stage of life, especially when considering retiring abroad. But just like retirement itself, it's important to plan ahead to understand all the aspects of retiring in a foreign country as a woman. It requires extensive preparation and retirement financial planning, besides considering thoroughly the country to retire.

It can be daunting for anybody, regardless of gender, to take the step of moving overseas alone. But plenty of folks—including single women of retirement age—have happily settled into a new life in a foreign country. 

What are the benefits of retiring abroad as a woman?

There are many wonderful benefits to retiring abroad, but here are just a few reasons why women should consider it: 

  • Cost of living can be less expensive than in your home country while enjoying a higher quality of life;
  • Many countries offer better and more affordable healthcare and social security offerings, which is important for those of the retirement age to ensure they are safe and fully protected;
  • There are higher income tax benefits for annual income earned from investment portfolios.

Gender resistance 

These benefits speak to everyone who is about to retire, but some don't feel confident enough to prepare for all its processes. Although some expats, regardless of gender, might have administration and law experience, the majority won't, so it is essential to check with an expert lawyer on the subject what are the steps to retire abroad, the responsibilities to meet in the home country, and what are the best options for your needs. In addition, women expats have to fight against social boundaries and stereotypes that might appear as “paperwork is too hard for me”, “retiring as men is easier”, I need to meet all qualifications for being an expatriate” and so on. 

Everyone probably heard the following statistic: “Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them”. The finding comes from a Hewlett Packard internal report from 2014. It's usually invoked as evidence that women need more confidence in all sectors. As one Forbes article put it, “Men are confident about their ability to do things at 60%, but women don't feel confident until they've checked off each item on the list.” 

Tips for choosing a retirement destination as an expat woman

Many women expats might wonder if there is a more “women-friendly” country. Nevertheless, no one country is 100% for women at all times. According to 2019's Women's Danger Index Coming, the safest countries in the world for women are Japan, with Poland at number 2 and Bosnia and Herzegovina at number 3. Other countries with the lowest reported crimes against women include Slovenia, Italy, and Greece. 

Although a “Woman-friendly country” will depend a lot on the interpretations, expats should not let this fact interfere with a plan to retire or relocate overseas. In terms of safety and well-being, the journalist Kathleen from Live and Invest Overseas advises some places she has already lived: Ambergris Caye, Belize, Cuenca, Ecuador, Paris, France and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. 

Before considering a new life abroad, it is recommended that expats profile themselves ruthlessly. There are expat destinations in countries around the world to suit just about every taste regardless of gender. So, it's up to expat women to be honest with themselves about what they need. What kind of climate do they like best? Do they want a small town or a large city? How social are they? Are they willing to learn a new language? Would they prefer a place with a large expat community or a small one?

A solo woman expat considering the idea of reinventing her life in a new country often focuses on city options—Medellín and Barcelona, for example. It's easier to establish a personal structure and to make friends in a city than in a small beach town or a sleepy mountain village. That said, while many women have focused on city choices, others have taken more independent paths. It's more about what expats want, who they are and what's important to them than where's best for a single woman.

A solo expat retiree in Uruguay shares her views

Caroline M. from San Francisco, California, retired alone in Montevideo. She is 65, and she says she is having a great adventure there. “I really enjoy my new life, and I have found that since I took the plunge this first time, I am much more confident about doing another moving and exploring another country at some time in the future.” Being an expat at such an age has completely changed her mind and opened a new door of opportunities. “I have long been fascinated with Spain, Greece, and Italy. At least what I think are the lifestyles there. I also am aware of all their current troubles, which can bring opportunities, too."

Uruguay is a small country that has kept its traditional form of living. In terms of gender violence, The Ministry of the Interior of Uruguay estimated that there were 28 women killed by sexist violence in 2018, which is not as high as compared to other Latin American countries. In the same year, Brazil had 1200 women murdered, and Argentina 278. Caroline feels safe and shares: “I love the absolutely wonderful people in Uruguay and the smallness of the country, but I find it to be more costly than I anticipated for everyday living…rent, electricity, restaurants, etc.” When asked about how she got there, she said: “I'm just so curious. It's a big world, and, thanks to newsletters, info, etc., I found the courage to move here.”