Making Cents: Living Outside of the USA

US Wealth Napolitano |

By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST, RLP®

While this may sound un-patriotic, it is not intended to be taken that way. But with all of the unusual issues and events associated with this year’s presidential election, I’ve been asked by more than a few people about the consequences of moving out of the country.

Assuming that you know a lot about the area in which you’d like to reside, start by learning your chosen countries rules for Visas and residency. Whether it is a shorter stay or an attempt at establishing permanent residency, understand both the availability and ease of obtaining the proper documentation to make a legal resident. Some are way easier than others and most require some sort of minimum income and assets in local financial institutions.

For Income Tax purposes, as a US citizen you'll still pay US tax on all income earned worldwide with an exception for earned income (employment) while out of the country. Foreign investment accounts may also be subject to tax in that country and the US. But when you file your IRS tax returns you'll receive a credit for any taxes paid to a foreign jurisdiction. Withdrawing US citizenship will eliminate future US income tax, but may have tax consequences when expatriating your money.

Evaluate the cost of living. You can go somewhere like London which may cost you more than your current location or go to Vietnam or Nicaragua where you are likely to save a bunch of money right from the start. Most who have taken this bold step before you typically rent for a while to be sure that they feel like they fit in and that they are hunting in the right neighborhoods.

Learn about the amenities and benefits that apply to residents of your chosen destination. For example, retirees moving to Panama will qualify for 50% discounts on entertainment like movies, concerts, plays etc. and 25% discounts at restaurants and airline tickets bought in Panama. Getting the discount is great – especially if your chosen country has a plethora of good options.  Panama is an emerging foodie haven with cultural activities galore in the cities like Panama City, great beaches and tropical rainforests for the adventure seekers.

Cultural similarities are helpful to some and not preferred by others.  You may find English speaking Belize more to your liking because of the native tongue and the larger number of US expats living there. Talk to some of these Ex-Pats and ask what they were looking for in a new residence and what they would do differently if they could make the move all over again.

Safety is a big issue.  For those who have made the journey, they claim that safety in a well-chosen retirement haven abroad can be as good as it is here in the USA. They cite common sense and caution as you would exercise in any large city. 


John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA is CEO of U. S. Wealth Management in Braintree, MA.  Visit JohnPNapolitano on LinkedIn or The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. John Napolitano is a registered principal with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through US Financial Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. US Financial Advisors and US Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial. He can be reached at 781-849-9200.