For many retiring Canadians, living outside of the country either full-time or part-time can be an attractive option. Whether choosing to winter in a warmer climate or altogether moving to a different country, you need to be aware of the financial issues surrounding these decisions.

Canadian Citizenship

Canadians can reside in another country without having to give up their Canadian citizenship; however, you will still be subject to Canadian taxation laws. It’s important to understand the taxation and financial regulations of either living abroad.
There are many things to consider when deciding where to spend your retirement years.

Immigration Regulations

If you are planning on living outside of Canada, you should do some research on the country where you plan on moving to. You will need to research that particular country’s immigration regulations, as these vary greatly depending on the country chosen. You should also familiarize yourself with that country’s laws, as well as political climate. Realize that countries you’ve enjoyed vacationing in may not offer the type of lifestyle you are accustomed to when it comes to actually residing there.

Taxation Issues

Financial and taxation issues are very important as well when contemplating to live outside of Canada. Some developing countries may seem to offer a lower cost of living; however many lack the resources to collect taxes on foreign-sourced income and instead will impose high consumption taxes and/or import duties.

Especially for those who will be living on a fixed income and/or budget, you will need to thoroughly understand the financial implications of the country you are considering. You should also factor in the costs of traveling back to Canada as well.

Health Care & Insurance

Another major financial consideration will be health care and insurance.

As Canada offers a very high standard of medical care, some countries may be considered inadequate by our terms. If you have specific health problems, i.e. diabetes, heart condition, you will need to ensure that your country of choice has medical facilities as well as physicians that are capable of giving you quality care.

You will also need to obtain full health coverage as you will no longer be entitled to your Canadian provincial health care benefits. Be aware that even if you have supplemental health insurance (to supplement your provincial healthcare plan), this will not be enough coverage when leaving Canada.

If you are planning on living abroad only part-time, remember that your provincial healthcare only provides limited coverage for a limited amount of time. Your level of provincial benefits will probably not be enough to fully cover any medical expenses that you may incur; it is advisable to have your own health insurance even when leaving Canada on a temporary basis.

Depending on the length of your absence from Canada, you may also have to wait for your provincial health plan to be reinstated, which will temporarily leave you without health insurance coverage.


If you are planning on leaving Canada to live in another country (either full or part-time) you will need to ensure that your passport is valid, and doesn’t expire while you are out of the country. You will also need to open a bank account in your new country; it is a good idea beforehand to research their banking regulations.

You may also want to have a safety deposit box in order to safeguard copies of your documents, i.e. birth certificate, an identification that bears your photo, etc. You should also have the numbers of the Canadian consulate on hand should you require these in an emergency. As well, have a copy of your visa (if it is required).

Legal Status

If you are planning on permanently residing in another country, you will need to establish a legal status there, i.e. permanent residency or citizenship status. Requirements for legal status vary greatly from country to country but usually will be based on principles such as employment status, investment status, and/or family connections. Some countries may recognize people such as retirees with a guaranteed minimum income as potential immigrants. Many countries will require proof of guaranteed income in order to establish sufficient support for the retiree and any dependents. You will need to provide financial documentation supporting your claim that you meet these requirements; have copies of bank statements, investments, RRSPs, etc ready in order for submission.

If you are planning on retiring and living outside of Canada, you may want to obtain advice regarding the financial and taxation issues. Do your own research about any potential countries you are interested in, either on a part or full-time basis, so you can better plan ahead. Remember, the earlier you start planning, the better prepared you will be when you actually retire.

Contact Baker & Baker to begin planning.

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