Retiring to the Sunshine State
Florida is one of the most popular retirement destinations in the world for people of all nationalities. Due to the large population of retirees in Florida, there are a number of retirement communities and activities designed for seniors, so integrating into the community should not be a problem for most people.
While many people dream of retiring to the Florida Keys, property prices in the Keys mean that very few people can actually make this dream a reality. According to CNN Money Magazine's 2006 list of best places to retire, 12 of the top 25 towns with the biggest 50+ population were located in Florida: Tamarac, Port Charlotte, Largo, Spring Hill, Port Orange, Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach, Palm Harbor, Boynton Beach, Pompano Beach, Clearwater, and Boca Raton. Other popular, more affordable places to retire in Florida include Mexico Beach, Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg, Englewood, Bonita Springs, Live Oak, Ocala, Fernandina Beach, Fort Pierce, and Vero Beach.
There is no such thing as a retirement visa for the US, so expats wishing to retire to Florida will have to establish permanent residency another way. For information on the different types of US visas, see the Visas and Temporary Residence or the Permanent Residency / Immigration (Greencard) and Citizenship sections of the USA Country Guide.
Many expats who do not qualify for a permanent visa enter the US on a B-2 Tourist Visa, which allows them to spend a maximum of six months out of every 12 in the US. Most expats in this situation maintain a residence in their home country for half the year and spend the other half (usually including the winter months) in Florida. Some expats take advantage of this opportunity to earn some extra income by letting out their Florida property while they are away.
One of the biggest concerns for expats retiring to Florida (or anywhere else in the US) has to do with health care. The US health care system is largely privately-run, and health insurance can cost several hundred dollars a month, making retiring to Florida a deal-breaker for some expats. Many retired people in the US have access to Medicare, but most expats will not qualify. The cost of health insurance should be factored into any expat's budget when contemplating a move to Florida.
Expats wishing to retire to Florida should also be sure to look into how to transfer their pensions. This includes checking taxation laws in the US. It is best to seek independent financial advice regarding pensions.
You should be aware that as a foreigner you will have fewer entitlements to American benefits and services, such as Social Security, during your retirement.