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Retirement destinations home and away

Ever dreamed of spending your retirement years somewhere new, either abroad or closer to home? If so, the next question is: where should you move?

Retiring from the workforce is a golden opportunity to try something different, and your new found freedom can even be the gateway to a whole new life. Many Australians start their retirement by heading off on an extended travel adventure – but why not go one step further and turn your holiday destination into your new address?

Here's a few ideas on where you could spend your retirement both at home and away, part-time or permanently, along with how to prepare to make the move to somewhere new.


Forget Bali – there’s a new retirement hotspot in Asia. Boasting four UNESCO World Heritage sites, Malaysia packs a punch, and was recently voted the No. 1 retirement destination for Aussies.1 As home to a vibrant expat community, it’s easy to get by with English and the locals are some of the friendliest anywhere.

Pro: With world-class healthcare and public transport, Malaysia offers plenty of value for your retirement savings.

Con: The heat can be oppressive in the mid-year summer months, so an air conditioner is a must.

Many Australians start their retirement by heading off on an extended travel adventure – but why not go one step further and turn your holiday destination into your new address?


Spain’s next-door neighbour is coming up in the world, as more expats are discovering this European gem. For starters, Portugal has pristine beaches and picturesque mountains within a stone’s throw of each other. What’s more, its cities are rich in fascinating history, stunning architecture and delicious cuisine.

Pro: More affordable and laidback than some of its neighbours, Portugal still has all the charm of Spain or Italy.

Con: With a couple of long-haul flights needed just to visit family, Portugal may be a bit far from home.

New Zealand

Outside of this year’s top International Living Australia Global Retirement Rankings, but closer to home, there’s so much more to New Zealand than sheep, rugby and hobbits. Both the North and South Islands are crammed with jaw-dropping scenery waiting to be explored by fit and active retirees. And because the culture is comfortably familiar, you’ll make a smooth transition to your new life across the Tasman.

Pro: The New Zealand KiwiSaver scheme makes it easy to take your super with you when you move – as long as you’re in a complying super fund.

Con: With the New Zealand dollar valued more or less on par with Australia’s, your retirement savings won’t stretch as far as they could in other countries.


And to wrap up, we couldn’t resist giving the Apple Isle an honourable mention. There are plenty of great reasons for mainlanders to spend their golden years in Tasmania – it showcases the best of Australia’s natural beauty and is full of peaceful spots to unwind and enjoy life in the slow lane. With clean air, amazing food and relatively low living costs, you’ll feel instantly at home.

Pro: It’s just a short plane ride away from your friends and family – but still feels worlds apart.

Con: If you’re looking for the hustle and bustle of a big city, you won’t find it in Tassie.

Preparing for the move abroad

Moving to a new country is a big step, so it’s important to plan carefully before you start packing your bags.

First of all, you’ll need to research the visa requirements for your preferred destination. While Australia has reciprocal agreements with some countries, it may be quite difficult to get a long-term visa for others, especially when you’re no longer working.

There’s plenty of information available on government websites, as well as online forums where you can connect with other expats and ask all your visa-related questions. You should also find out if there are limits on how long you can stay and whether there are any restrictions on buying property.

Destination checklist

Here are some other things to consider when you’re deciding where to move:

  • Services. Will you be able to access the healthcare and other services you’ll need – particularly as you get older?
  • Transport. Is public transport available to help you get around? If not, are roads in good condition for driving?
  • Lifestyle. Are there plenty of activities to keep you occupied? Does the destination offer they kind of retirement lifestyle you want?
  • Community. Will you be able to join a community of like-minded retirees? Without family close by, will you have a support network you can rely on?
  • Weather. Have you visited the area at different times of the year to make sure you can cope with the weather?
  • Affordability. Do you know what the cost of living is? Will it allow you to make the most of your nest egg?

Advice can help

Another good idea is to speak to a financial adviser while you’re planning your move. They can talk through your options for accessing your super overseas, and explain whether you’ll be eligible for any Centrelink benefits when you’re out of Australia.

Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFSL 232468 (Colonial First State) is the issuer of the FirstChoice range of super and pension products from the Colonial First State FirstChoice Superannuation Trust ABN 26 458 298 557. Colonial First State also issues interests in products made available under FirstChoice Investments and FirstChoice Wholesale Investments. This document may include general advice but does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Financial Services Guide (FSG) carefully, assess whether the information is appropriate for you, and consider talking to a financial adviser before making an investment decision. The PDS and FSG can be obtained from or by calling us on 13 13 36.