More Retirees Splitting Residency Between Two Countries

Ted James
Ted James

Thanks to a variety of factors, many retirees are choosing to split their residency between the United States and a second country during retirement. This number has started to increase in recent years and is becoming an appealing option for retirees from a variety of backgrounds.

While global data is lacking, one study from 2020 revealed that “13% of U.S. workers and retirees aspire to live abroad in retirement.” Currently, an estimated 431,883 retirees who are United States citizens are living abroad. If combined with figures showing how many international citizens in retirement are splitting their residency, the real number is likely to be well over one million.

Lower cost of living

According to, the United States has the 27th highest cost of living. While that doesn’t make it the most expensive in the world, there are plenty of countries that are less expensive. For this reason, retirees see the real monetary value that can be gained by splitting their residency.

One example of this is Panama. Currently, Panama is one of the most popular destinations for retirees, thanks to its incredibly low cost of living. When strategically planning your expenses, you can live off of far less while experiencing the best of both countries.

Downsizing can mean two homes

During retirement, many seniors choose to downsize their homes. This allows for more freedom and fewer monthly expenses, especially in areas where the houses are more affordable (in Reston, Va., for instance, the median sale price for homes is $495,250, more than twice the comparable figure in Panama City). Those who plan to split their time between the U.S. and a second country are now finding that downsizing can also subsidize the cost of having two homes. 

Rather than renting a property, or staying in a hotel, retirees have found that buying right-sized homes in both countries is the cost-effective way to go. It is allowing these individuals to have a guaranteed place to stay and eliminates the need to move belongings internationally with each trip. In some cases, retirees choose to stay with family in one or both countries to eliminate most or even all housing expenses.

Travel becomes more affordable

Another benefit of splitting time between two countries is the decreased cost of travel to surrounding countries. Those living in the U.S. alone can travel domestically for an affordable rate, but the cost of international travel remains relatively high.

Retirees who choose to live in Europe, Asia, Africa, or South America can fly to nearby countries for far less. Travel-minded individuals find this perk to be well worth the effort.

Living in two countries requires effort

Although it comes with plenty of advantages, living in two countries is no easy task. Figuring out taxes alone can be a massive undertaking. 

If you are weighing the pros and cons of this kind of arrangement in retirement, be sure to consider all factors. Explore what is involved for your specific situation, and compare costs. Don’t forget to factor in all taxes you will owe to both countries, the cost of housing, transportation, and so on. What is most helpful is doing a side-by-side comparison of living in each of these countries full-time. While it is certainly an exciting adventure, you should give dual residency significant thought.

For retirees living in multiple countries, the benefits almost always outweigh any disadvantages. In addition to having a lower cost of living, getting to travel more, and being able to own property in both locations, the increased quality of life is usually the biggest draw.


Ted James

Ted is a professional financial counselor and coach with an MBA in Finance.