Author Topic: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?  (Read 28156 times)

BGordon

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US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« on: April 03, 2017, 04:32:27 PM »
Are there many US citizens here planning on retiring in Europe?  My wife and I have visited Europe quite a bit over the last 10 years and are planning on retiring there.  We want to establish a home base and spend at least a couple of months a year traveling throughout Europe.  Does anyone else have similar plans?

russianswinga

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iamlindoro

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2017, 04:47:38 PM »
Spain or Portugal are strong possibilities as long term stays for us during our FIRE slow travels. The combo of easy non-lucrative visa options, quality health care, and great cost-of-living to quality-of-life ratio make them great options for us.

thedigitalone

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2017, 04:48:36 PM »
We didn't retire over there, but did spend a year traveling in a RV all over western Europe. 

You are going to have to figure out a way around the Schengen visa issue, it used to be that you could just spend 90 days in each country and move on to the next... not anymore!

You have 90 days in the Schengen areas then you have to LEAVE for 90 contiguous days before you can return unless you find another visa to use.

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/go/schengen-fact-sheet.html

iamlindoro

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2017, 04:57:48 PM »
We didn't retire over there, but did spend a year traveling in a RV all over western Europe. 

You are going to have to figure out a way around the Schengen visa issue, it used to be that you could just spend 90 days in each country and move on to the next... not anymore!

You have 90 days in the Schengen areas then you have to LEAVE for 90 contiguous days before you can return unless you find another visa to use.

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/go/schengen-fact-sheet.html

The Spanish and Portugal non-lucrative visa options are great for this.  In the case of Spain, prove you have the financial resources to support yourself without working (25,560 Euros annually plus 6,390 Euros per each additional family member), not a criminal, have international health insurance, and a few other sundry items.  Upon visa approval, you get to stay for a full year as a legal resident, with an option to renew for two-year stints after that. Now you've got a great jumping off point for continent-wide exploration!  The one caution is that you need to spend 6 out of each 12 months in Spain itself or risk non-renewal of your residency (because Spain figures if you don't want to be in the country, why should they grant you residency?). Portugal has great retirement options, including some very attractive tax benefits for the first ten years you are there.

And of course, either give you options to become a more permanent resident/citizen.  Where there's a will, there's a (legal) way!

fa

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2017, 05:18:49 PM »
We didn't retire over there, but did spend a year traveling in a RV all over western Europe. 

You are going to have to figure out a way around the Schengen visa issue, it used to be that you could just spend 90 days in each country and move on to the next... not anymore!

You have 90 days in the Schengen areas then you have to LEAVE for 90 contiguous days before you can return unless you find another visa to use.

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/go/schengen-fact-sheet.html

The Spanish and Portugal non-lucrative visa options are great for this.  In the case of Spain, prove you have the financial resources to support yourself without working (25,560 Euros annually plus 6,390 Euros per each additional family member), not a criminal, have international health insurance, and a few other sundry items.  Upon visa approval, you get to stay for a full year as a legal resident, with an option to renew for two-year stints after that. Now you've got a great jumping off point for continent-wide exploration!  The one caution is that you need to spend 6 out of each 12 months in Spain itself or risk non-renewal of your residency (because Spain figures if you don't want to be in the country, why should they grant you residency?). Portugal has great retirement options, including some very attractive tax benefits for the first ten years you are there.

And of course, either give you options to become a more permanent resident/citizen.  Where there's a will, there's a (legal) way!

Great info.  Thanks!  I read somewhere that Spain has a wealth tax (tax on your assets) that kicks in after living in Spain for 3 months?  Do you know anything about that?  I would love to live a while in Spain, but have no intention of giving them part of my investment.

iamlindoro

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2017, 05:59:58 PM »
Great info.  Thanks!  I read somewhere that Spain has a wealth tax (tax on your assets) that kicks in after living in Spain for 3 months?  Do you know anything about that?  I would love to live a while in Spain, but have no intention of giving them part of my investment.

I believe the Wealth Tax has an exemption on the first 700K Euros in assets, plus 300K in primary residence value.  We are comfortably below that amount, so we would owe nothing, but I know it could affect some here.  From a quick Google, the rates start at .2% per year and can go as high as 2.5% per year (on 10 Million Euros in assets).  Here's what I found:

http://www.blevinsfranks.com/news/blevinsfranks/article/wealth-tax-spain-2017

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2017, 06:20:27 PM »
Great info.  Thanks!  I read somewhere that Spain has a wealth tax (tax on your assets) that kicks in after living in Spain for 3 months?  Do you know anything about that?  I would love to live a while in Spain, but have no intention of giving them part of my investment.

I believe the Wealth Tax has an exemption on the first 700K Euros in assets, plus 300K in primary residence value.  We are comfortably below that amount, so we would owe nothing, but I know it could affect some here.  From a quick Google, the rates start at .2% per year and can go as high as 2.5% per year (on 10 Million Euros in assets).  Here's what I found:

http://www.blevinsfranks.com/news/blevinsfranks/article/wealth-tax-spain-2017

iamlindoro is that 1 year visa considered a "non resident" because then the wealth tax only applies to assets held in Spain as well?

iamlindoro

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2017, 06:48:33 PM »
iamlindoro is that 1 year visa considered a "non resident" because then the wealth tax only applies to assets held in Spain as well?

With the caveat that I am not an expert in the Spanish wealth tax, I am pretty sure that the non lucrative visa makes you a resident for tax purposes, which would include the wealth tax. That said, with the 700k exemption and .2% starting bracket, it seems like many mustachians would be able to get away with somewhere between nothing and a few thousand per year in wealth tax. YMMV, but for us that might be a reasonable premium to pay for the opportunity to explore.

aspiringnomad

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2017, 08:16:17 PM »
One US citizen and one kiwi here planning to spend at least 2 years in Europe post-FIRE before settling in NZ. We're looking at small towns in the southern parts of Portugal, France, and Italy; seeking a slow pace of life and cheap living. I'm the polyglot, she's the multiple citizenship holder. The Earth Awaits has been a great resource for budgeting, so thanks for that iamlindoro! For those who don't have European citizenship, the big question is the Schengen visa issue, but as iamlindoro notes there are options there as well. Not much to add at this point, so posting mostly to follow.

BGordon

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2017, 08:52:04 PM »
Us. We're retiring in Europe.
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/retiring-in-montenegro/

Our plan is to retire in 5 years.  We haven't decided on a country yet and several are in play at this point.  Right now we are looking at France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Croatia.  Based on your pictures we may need to add Montenegro to the list.  Those pictures are beautiful.  Wife and I definitely need to take a vacation there in the next few years.  Last year we spent about 12 days in Spain, but 10 were in Ibiza and Mallorca, so they may not count.  We were in Croatia (Istrian Peninsula) for a week, and Italy for about a week and a half.  The past few years we have spent a couple of weeks in France and a couple more in Italy.  This year we are targeting southern Portugal and Spain.  Hoping to narrow things down to a couple of locations in the next couple of years.

BGordon

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2017, 08:58:57 PM »
Spain or Portugal are strong possibilities as long term stays for us during our FIRE slow travels. The combo of easy non-lucrative visa options, quality health care, and great cost-of-living to quality-of-life ratio make them great options for us.

At least from a Cost of Living standpoint these two countries are in the lead (especially Portugal).  After visiting them later in the year, I guess we will have a better idea.  Not sure if we will need a car or not when we eventually move, and it may make more sense to just buy a used one in Europe, but have you ever looked at importing a car into Portugal from the US?

BGordon

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2017, 09:03:18 PM »
It is our intention to establish residency in whichever country we choose for a home base, so unless I am wrong, I don't think the visa restrictions will be an issue for us.

iamlindoro

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2017, 09:13:16 PM »
At least from a Cost of Living standpoint these two countries are in the lead (especially Portugal).  After visiting them later in the year, I guess we will have a better idea.  Not sure if we will need a car or not when we eventually move, and it may make more sense to just buy a used one in Europe, but have you ever looked at importing a car into Portugal from the US?

Not Portugal, but yes to Spain. I've priced shipping a non-SUV from San Francisco or LA to Barcelona at about $1500-2000 per direction. For Spain at least, you can drive the car in the country for six months before it has to be registered (which requires inspections, emissions, etc.). If you're staying longer than six months, there's probably no real reason to delay getting it registered locally.

BGordon

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2017, 09:16:11 PM »
Not Portugal, but yes to Spain. I've priced shipping a non-SUV from San Francisco or LA to Barcelona at about $1500-2000 per direction. For Spain at least, you can drive the car in the country for six months before it has to be registered (which requires inspections, emissions, etc.). If you're staying longer than six months, there's probably no real reason to delay getting it registered locally.

Are you aware of any major taxes when registering the vehicle?

BGordon

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2017, 09:17:53 PM »
It is still a little early for me, but I'm trying to decide whether to sell everything here and then repurchase in Europe or try to ship certain things (furniture, car/cars, etc.)

aspiringnomad

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2017, 09:45:14 PM »
At least from a Cost of Living standpoint these two countries are in the lead (especially Portugal).  After visiting them later in the year, I guess we will have a better idea.  Not sure if we will need a car or not when we eventually move, and it may make more sense to just buy a used one in Europe, but have you ever looked at importing a car into Portugal from the US?

Not Portugal, but yes to Spain. I've priced shipping a non-SUV from San Francisco or LA to Barcelona at about $1500-2000 per direction. For Spain at least, you can drive the car in the country for six months before it has to be registered (which requires inspections, emissions, etc.). If you're staying longer than six months, there's probably no real reason to delay getting it registered locally.

I've looked into this as well. Unfortunately, there aren't many easy options as inspection and emission standards are different in Europe and sometimes require expensive alterations to US cars. And import taxes, if you end up having to pay them (the exemption process is complicated from what I've read) can be absurdly steep. Having said that, cars are much cheaper in the US and shipping in a container (a bit more expensive than roll on, roll off) would also allow you to fill up the car with any other items you wanted to bring over with you. Renting is obviously prohibitively expensive for Mustachians planning to stay longer-term. The easiest solution, by far, is to import and plan to not register the car. Of course that means that you wouldn't be able to legally drive it in the country for longer than 6 months in the case of Portugal or Spain...and it would be a pity to leave a country just because it's too much of a pain to register your car. I'm hoping to sort out the best course of action given that I really like my car (it would be the perfect little surf mobile to explore the beaches of Portugal) and would prefer not to deal with the hassle of selling it and buying a new one.

BGordon

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2017, 09:53:24 PM »

I've looked into this as well. Unfortunately, there aren't many easy options as inspection and emission standards are different in Europe and sometimes require expensive alterations to US cars. And import taxes, if you end up having to pay them (the exemption process is complicated from what I've read) can be absurdly steep. Having said that, cars are much cheaper in the US and shipping in a container (a bit more expensive than roll on, roll off) would also allow you to fill up the car with any other items you wanted to bring over with you. Renting is obviously prohibitively expensive for Mustachians planning to stay longer-term. The easiest solution, by far, is to import and plan to not register the car. Of course that means that you wouldn't be able to legally drive it in the country for longer than 6 months in the case of Portugal or Spain...and it would be a pity to leave a country just because it's too much of a pain to register your car. I'm hoping to sort out the best course of action given that I really like my car (it would be the perfect little surf mobile to explore the beaches of Portugal) and would prefer not to deal with the hassle of selling it and buying a new one.

This is definitely on my list of things I need to nail down, but I guess I need to decide on which country I am going to retire in first.  Although some of the things on the list will probably dictate which country I retire in.  Kind of a chicken or egg scenario.

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US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2017, 12:40:02 AM »
The Spanish and Portugal non-lucrative visa options are great for this.  In the case of Spain, prove you have the financial resources to support yourself without working (25,560 Euros annually plus 6,390 Euros per each additional family member)
Resources meaning annual income from investments in that amount, or money in the bank in that amount?

Villanelle

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2017, 01:42:48 AM »
DH and I have talked about it.  We lived in Europe for a few years for his work and loved a lot of things about it.  We've tossed around the idea of opening a B&B.  It would be a side hustle only, done for extra income not necessary for our lifestyle, and also because while there are surely a lot of headaches, it seems like it would be interesting so we'd be doing it in large part for the experience and not the money.  This is so far away from being an actual plan, but when we've discussed it, it generally consists of opening for 3-4 months a year during high season only.  Ideally, we'd buy an already established B&B, and one with only a few rooms.  Unfortunately, the places we'd most like to do this are not especially cheap.(Scotland would be our dream, particularly the Isle of Skye which is really spendy.) 


Linea_Norway

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2017, 06:22:39 AM »
DH and I have talked about it.  We lived in Europe for a few years for his work and loved a lot of things about it.  We've tossed around the idea of opening a B&B.  It would be a side hustle only, done for extra income not necessary for our lifestyle, and also because while there are surely a lot of headaches, it seems like it would be interesting so we'd be doing it in large part for the experience and not the money.  This is so far away from being an actual plan, but when we've discussed it, it generally consists of opening for 3-4 months a year during high season only.  Ideally, we'd buy an already established B&B, and one with only a few rooms.  Unfortunately, the places we'd most like to do this are not especially cheap.(Scotland would be our dream, particularly the Isle of Skye which is really spendy.)

This a dream quite a few northern Europeans have of doing before FIRE. They like to move to France and open a B&B and make a living of it. This might be the reason the prices are high. Usually those people underestimate a lot what it costs to drive such a place. Make sure you investigate it properly. To do it after FIRE is probably better, because you don't necessarily need to make a good profit.

I wonder whether there is any good European country where it is beneficial in matters of taxes to live of your stock. Like where I live now, we need to add profit from stock sales to our income, about 28%. It would be smarter to live somewhere else where you don't need to pay such a tax. And what about property taxes? Is this common in all countries? Here is Norway more than 80% of the communities have introduced it and they are generally greedy.

Trifele

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2017, 06:42:17 AM »
Great discussion.  Posting to follow. 

iamlindoro

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2017, 07:02:21 AM »
The Spanish and Portugal non-lucrative visa options are great for this.  In the case of Spain, prove you have the financial resources to support yourself without working (25,560 Euros annually plus 6,390 Euros per each additional family member)
Resources meaning annual income from investments in that amount, or money in the bank in that amount?

Either.

Villanelle

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2017, 07:18:15 AM »
DH and I have talked about it.  We lived in Europe for a few years for his work and loved a lot of things about it.  We've tossed around the idea of opening a B&B.  It would be a side hustle only, done for extra income not necessary for our lifestyle, and also because while there are surely a lot of headaches, it seems like it would be interesting so we'd be doing it in large part for the experience and not the money.  This is so far away from being an actual plan, but when we've discussed it, it generally consists of opening for 3-4 months a year during high season only.  Ideally, we'd buy an already established B&B, and one with only a few rooms.  Unfortunately, the places we'd most like to do this are not especially cheap.(Scotland would be our dream, particularly the Isle of Skye which is really spendy.)

This a dream quite a few northern Europeans have of doing before FIRE. They like to move to France and open a B&B and make a living of it. This might be the reason the prices are high. Usually those people underestimate a lot what it costs to drive such a place. Make sure you investigate it properly. To do it after FIRE is probably better, because you don't necessarily need to make a good profit.

I wonder whether there is any good European country where it is beneficial in matters of taxes to live of your stock. Like where I live now, we need to add profit from stock sales to our income, about 28%. It would be smarter to live somewhere else where you don't need to pay such a tax. And what about property taxes? Is this common in all countries? Here is Norway more than 80% of the communities have introduced it and they are generally greedy.

We definitely wouldn't be doing it to make a living, which I think would make all the difference in the world.  It would be an experience, and some side money.  That would allow us to only take bookings for a shorter time frame, to close for a weekend if we want to do something else, etc.  Obviously, we'd need to not only break even, but to make it worth our while to spend a few days or a week hosting people in our home, but pressure to be fully booked or to never leave because we'd lose a weekend in high season--all that stuff that a lot of B&Bs deal with would be gone, which is exactly why we think we could beat the odds and not end up hating or closing our doors (or selling).  We'd also want a small operation so that when we weren't hosting or even open, we wouldn't be rattling around loose in a giant home that requires a ton of upkeep. 

zinnie

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2017, 07:18:47 AM »
Posting to follow! I'd like to stay longer-term in Italy, as I have a condo I could stay in for free, but the 90 day thing is an issue and I don't really want to do any of the things you need to to establish residency (invest in a business, get a job.) it makes sense that in many places establishing residency is tied to being a productive member of society, but makes it harder for retirees.

Good tips in this thread, though! Following. I had been looking at 90 days in, 90 days out, but not sure what "out" country I want to live in long-term.

BGordon

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2017, 10:51:30 AM »
Have any of you ever attended one of those "Live and Invest Oversees Conferences?"  If not, does anyone have an opinion on them?  Are they worth the expense?

iamlindoro

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2017, 11:02:37 AM »
Have any of you ever attended one of those "Live and Invest Oversees Conferences?"  If not, does anyone have an opinion on them?  Are they worth the expense?

I haven't attended-- but my impression of them is that they are for people who aren't industrious enough to Google the kinds of topics they cover.  For major expat retirement destinations, all of the basics of visas, moving, settling in, and setting up life have been covered somewhere on the internet and are easily researched. We're mustachians!  We don't need to pay someone to tell us how to open a bank account or purchase property!  We can find that information ourselves or invest a little sweat equity to figure it out!

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2017, 11:17:02 AM »
So, since the UK isn't part of the Schengen area and allows US citizens to stay for 6 months, could could you bounce back and forth between the UK and Europe, 90 days in each? I've spent some time looking into it online and can't find an issue, aside from higher COL in the UK than in many parts of Europe.

We will probably keep a home base in the US (that we may rent out), but we want to spend some time enjoying slow travel in our retirement. So much of our travel now is pretty whirlwind, squeezed into school and work breaks.

iamlindoro

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2017, 11:26:46 AM »
So, since the UK isn't part of the Schengen area and allows US citizens to stay for 6 months, could could you bounce back and forth between the UK and Europe, 90 days in each? I've spent some time looking into it online and can't find an issue, aside from higher COL in the UK than in many parts of Europe.

I have heard anecdotes about people being stopped at the UK border after a few iterations of this. The UK apparently actively looks for patterns to indicate people are trying to use the tourist visa as a quasi-residence visa.  Whether or not this is likely to happen to you probably depends on how many times/how often you intend to try it. It would suck to be denied entry if you had any assets in the country, though.

FireHiker

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2017, 11:33:33 AM »
So, since the UK isn't part of the Schengen area and allows US citizens to stay for 6 months, could could you bounce back and forth between the UK and Europe, 90 days in each? I've spent some time looking into it online and can't find an issue, aside from higher COL in the UK than in many parts of Europe.

I have heard anecdotes about people being stopped at the UK border after a few iterations of this. The UK apparently actively looks for patterns to indicate people are trying to use the tourist visa as a quasi-residence visa.  Whether or not this is likely to happen to you probably depends on how many times/how often you intend to try it. It would suck to be denied entry if you had any assets in the country, though.

Hmm, good to know. We still have 13 years until our youngest is out of school, so even if we retire before then (7-10 hopefully), we probably won't go for longer than 90 days anywhere for awhile yet. Who knows what our world will look like then anyway, between the Brexit and all the other uncertainty. We love the UK, so I suppose we could do a stay there, then 90 days in the Schengen area, then go home for awhile (or South America or Australia or ??? So many options!). I've been wondering about longer-term options though so I'm going to follow along here to see what people do for now anyway!

greengardens

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #30 on: April 04, 2017, 11:36:27 AM »
I currently have no plans to retire in Europe but am in the process of obtaining my Italian citizenship to make future travel or work easier. If you have recent European lineage this may be something to look into

zinnie

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #31 on: April 04, 2017, 03:57:59 PM »
I currently have no plans to retire in Europe but am in the process of obtaining my Italian citizenship to make future travel or work easier. If you have recent European lineage this may be something to look into

From what I could tell of Italy, this only works if you have a grandparent or parent who was an Italian citizen. But you just got me thinking, because I do have European lineage from another country, and an EU citizen wouldn't have trouble moving around like a non-EU citizen...thanks for the tip!

tralfamadorian

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #32 on: April 04, 2017, 04:34:43 PM »
Ireland is supposed to be another country where it is possible to get your citizenship if you have ancestors who did not renounce their citizenship- for example, parents renounce their Irish citizenship to become American citizens but their Irish born young children never directly do so. 

greengardens

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #33 on: April 04, 2017, 05:18:31 PM »
I currently have no plans to retire in Europe but am in the process of obtaining my Italian citizenship to make future travel or work easier. If you have recent European lineage this may be something to look into

From what I could tell of Italy, this only works if you have a grandparent or parent who was an Italian citizen. But you just got me thinking, because I do have European lineage from another country, and an EU citizen wouldn't have trouble moving around like a non-EU citizen...thanks for the tip!

Best of luck! I'm only 3 weeks into my process but from what I've read it takes a minimum of 6 months, probably closer to a year in my case due to all the genealogical research and translation I need done. Even though your lineage is different feel free to PM me with questions on translation services or genealogy sites. I'm not claiming to be an expert but this journey is definitely making me do a lot of research! Best of luck!

MoolahLula

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #34 on: April 04, 2017, 06:20:03 PM »
Is anyone researching retiring to Scotland by chance?  The Highlands might be calling my name. 

Paul der Krake

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #35 on: April 04, 2017, 06:39:49 PM »
Yes, at least for a couple years.

However I have not done any of the research on how that would affect our taxes.

Pizzabrewer

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #36 on: April 04, 2017, 07:14:08 PM »
I would love to retire to Germany but for 2 main reasons:  I know nothing about how to do it (minor reason) and my wife is dead-set against it (major reason).  I've always heard you can get German citizenship if you can prove German ancestry, that wouldn't be a problem to document (although my ancestors' immigration is many generations ago).  It's all a moot point given my wife's objections, however.

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #37 on: April 04, 2017, 08:52:13 PM »
What a timely post. My wife and I are considering retirement in Spain or Portugal. We love the idea of the Mediterranean lifestyle and having a "home base" to explore Europe. Although retirement is not eminent, we'd like to form a plan so we don't lose track of this dream.

Our current plan is to take a long vacation to the Iberian Penninula next year to get a general idea of where we'd like to be. From our research, it seems like southern Portugal has a lot of British retirees, but we are worried about it having a retirement community feeling.  Barcelona is an intriguing option.

I'd love to hear more from anyone with experience in either place. We'll be sure to update this post as we learn more.

Lanthiriel

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #38 on: April 04, 2017, 09:44:57 PM »
Is anyone researching retiring to Scotland by chance?  The Highlands might be calling my name.

I went to the England and Scotland for five weeks when I was 7 and have grown into a confirmed Anglophile. I've read that it's pretty easy to get a retirement visa after age 60 if you're able to produce $X income, but I haven't done a ton of research in how to do it when you're younger.

seattlecyclone

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #39 on: April 04, 2017, 10:26:55 PM »
I would love to retire to Germany but for 2 main reasons:  I know nothing about how to do it (minor reason) and my wife is dead-set against it (major reason).  I've always heard you can get German citizenship if you can prove German ancestry, that wouldn't be a problem to document (although my ancestors' immigration is many generations ago).  It's all a moot point given my wife's objections, however.

If it was "many generations ago," you're probably out of luck. I emailed the German embassy about this for my own family (paternal ancestors immigrated to the US around 1850) and it wouldn't work out. I don't remember the exact details, but at some point around the turn of the 20th century, the laws required foreign-born children of German citizens to file paperwork with their local German embassy from time to time in order to retain their citizenship. If they didn't do that (and I have no reason to believe they would have), the citizenship died out with them and there's no getting it back. If your ancestors came to the US more recently, you may have a shot though.

Is anyone researching retiring to Scotland by chance?  The Highlands might be calling my name. 

I don't think the UK makes it very easy. They have an investor visa available to anyone with 2,000,000 to invest in the British stock market. That seems like the most attainable path for someone who doesn't want to move over on a work visa prior to retirement, and doesn't have any existing connection to the UK or the EU. I'd be happy to be corrected though!

But who knows, if Scotland leaves the UK post-Brexit, anything could happen.

aspiringnomad

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #40 on: April 04, 2017, 10:34:33 PM »
Ireland is supposed to be another country where it is possible to get your citizenship if you have ancestors who did not renounce their citizenship- for example, parents renounce their Irish citizenship to become American citizens but their Irish born young children never directly do so.

My understanding is that it needs to be a parent or grandparent. My wife holds UK citizenship but has applied for Irish citizenship in light of Brexit on the basis of having 3 Irish grandparents. I'm on a mobile device and headed to bed, but the specific requirement should be pretty easy to find online.

jim555

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #41 on: April 04, 2017, 10:52:42 PM »
The UK used to have a "Retired persons of independent means" visa, but it has been closed to new entries for many years.

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #42 on: April 04, 2017, 11:22:52 PM »
The Spanish and Portugal non-lucrative visa options are great for this.  In the case of Spain, prove you have the financial resources to support yourself without working (25,560 Euros annually plus 6,390 Euros per each additional family member)
Resources meaning annual income from investments in that amount, or money in the bank in that amount?

Either.
Handy. There's a big difference between having enough for a few years in the bank (eg. 100k) and having enough to throw off 30-40k of income annually (eg. 1m).

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #43 on: April 04, 2017, 11:40:12 PM »
This is definitely a dream of mine, to retire to Italy.  My wife isn't quite on board yet, but we have a lot of family ties here.  We don't have kids, so this will be less of an issue as we get older.

I am very curious how one goes about getting a visa to live in Europe for more than 3 months.  So, I guess I'm just posting to follow... ha

CapLimited

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #44 on: April 05, 2017, 10:08:29 AM »
We are investigating the South of France for retirement.  We are on track to buy a modest apartment there in 3-5 years, with a permanent move in about 7 years, after I retire, with shorter trips in the meantime.  We should have more than sufficient resources to assure the French government that we will not be a drain on society.  Larger challenges include estate planning for both the U.S. and France, since neither of us will retire especially early, and driver's licenses.  DC doesn't have a reciprocal driver's license agreement with France, so we'll be signing up for French driving school. 

Paul der Krake

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #45 on: April 05, 2017, 10:24:58 AM »
We are investigating the South of France for retirement.  We are on track to buy a modest apartment there in 3-5 years, with a permanent move in about 7 years, after I retire, with shorter trips in the meantime.  We should have more than sufficient resources to assure the French government that we will not be a drain on society.  Larger challenges include estate planning for both the U.S. and France, since neither of us will retire especially early, and driver's licenses.  DC doesn't have a reciprocal driver's license agreement with France, so we'll be signing up for French driving school. 
FYI, you are allowed to pass the test as a "candidat libre".

https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F2825

Obviously you will need to know how to drive a stickshift if you don't already.

CapLimited

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #46 on: April 05, 2017, 10:41:01 AM »
We are investigating the South of France for retirement.  We are on track to buy a modest apartment there in 3-5 years, with a permanent move in about 7 years, after I retire, with shorter trips in the meantime.  We should have more than sufficient resources to assure the French government that we will not be a drain on society.  Larger challenges include estate planning for both the U.S. and France, since neither of us will retire especially early, and driver's licenses.  DC doesn't have a reciprocal driver's license agreement with France, so we'll be signing up for French driving school. 
FYI, you are allowed to pass the test as a "candidat libre".

https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F2825

Obviously you will need to know how to drive a stickshift if you don't already.

Been driving stick since I was 16.  It looks, however, that they want to make the "candidat libre" process as hard as possible -- like requiring a car with double brake, clutch, and acceleration controls for the driving test. Where would one get this besides a driving school?  I will continue to investigate.

PeteD01

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #47 on: April 05, 2017, 10:55:28 AM »
If you plan to move to Spain after FIRE and plan to use funds from your retirement accounts, you need to do some careful tax planning. Here are some things I found out while planning our move and now doing our first Spanish tax return:

The US Spain tax treaty amendment from 2013 clarifies the status of US retirement accounts as being "pension funds" for the purpose of application of the treaty rules. As the Spanish tax system does not recognize the concept of deferred taxes, the conditions under which a retirement account is considered a pension fund are being income tax exempt and administered for the purpose of providing income to a beneficiary for retirement. The consequence is that not only IRA's, 401k's etc. are considered pension funds but also all flavors of Roth accounts.

There is no mention of pre or after tax contributions making any difference, only the tax exempt status of assets and gains within the account is of concern.

The good thing about the rule is that one can now rest easy and not fear that the Spanish tax authority will attempt to collect taxes on dividends or capital gains generated within the accounts and one can be sure that taxes will have to be paid only on withdrawals (but on 100% of them).
Furthermore, it appears that Roth conversions could be characterized as transfers between pension funds which are allowed and tax free in Spain. Of course, US taxes would have to be paid but it means that a Roth conversion ladder does not have to be completed before moving to Spain.

The bad things are that one will have to pay taxes on Roth withdrawals (and not only on the gains...) and, because pension income is considered work related income, all withdrawals will be taxed under the category "rendimiento de trabajo" which exposes one to the very progressive tax table for that type of income.

At this time, it does not seem to be such a good idea to do Roth conversions if one plans to eventually withdraw from Roth accounts while being a tax resident of Spain as one runs the risk of getting double taxed.


« Last Edit: April 05, 2017, 11:51:50 AM by PeteD01 »

Paul der Krake

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #48 on: April 05, 2017, 11:05:48 AM »
We are investigating the South of France for retirement.  We are on track to buy a modest apartment there in 3-5 years, with a permanent move in about 7 years, after I retire, with shorter trips in the meantime.  We should have more than sufficient resources to assure the French government that we will not be a drain on society.  Larger challenges include estate planning for both the U.S. and France, since neither of us will retire especially early, and driver's licenses.  DC doesn't have a reciprocal driver's license agreement with France, so we'll be signing up for French driving school. 
FYI, you are allowed to pass the test as a "candidat libre".

https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F2825

Obviously you will need to know how to drive a stickshift if you don't already.

Been driving stick since I was 16.  It looks, however, that they want to make the "candidat libre" process as hard as possible -- like requiring a car with double brake, clutch, and acceleration controls for the driving test. Where would one get this besides a driving school?  I will continue to investigate.
Ouch, that sucks.

Alternative idea: establish residency in one of the states listed here right before moving:
http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/---_liste_definitive_permis_de_conduire_valables_a_l_echange_02_2017_---_2__cle085da1.pdf

Probably a good idea to set up shop in a state without income tax anyway. Florida and Texas both qualify on both counts.

BGordon

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Re: US citizens planning on retiring in Europe?
« Reply #49 on: April 05, 2017, 11:09:36 AM »
Which European country is the best based on tax policy alone?  Portugal?