There are thousands of retired Australians living in Bali, Thailand and Malaysia and using their Age Pension to largely cover their costs.

Moving overseas is an idea that’s growing in popularity as retirees look for ways to stretch their budgets and enjoy a good standard of living.

While living on the pension in Australia often means living in virtual poverty, this isn’t the case in many lower cost countries.

In fact, some South East Asian countries have introduced special visas to make the expatriate retirement life easier to achieve.

Developers are also providing suitable accommodation and older expats from all over the world are discovering that life in the tropics makes good financial sense.

However, the Federal Government is not wildly excited by this trend and it’s likely that this exotic lifestyle will become a bit more difficult, at least for Australians.

The government is unhappy about sending this pension money overseas where it circulates around the economy of another country and is totally lost to Australia’s economy.

The Minister for Human Services, Marise Payne has stated that “We pay just over $770 million in pension payouts to people who are living overseas” and claims that a tightening of pension requirements is necessary for the management of the budget.

While most of the overseas pension payments go to Italy, Greece and New Zealand, Australians living in South East Asia will suffer as restrictions are ramped up.

Key concerns

Apart from the possibility of increased government restrictions, there are two other issues that anyone considering retiring to an overseas tropical country would be wise to consider.

The first is health services. Australia is one of the best countries in the world to be sick, especially if you’re not wealthy.

While many South East Asian countries have some excellent medical facilities, don’t expect an ambulance at your door in 10 minutes and don’t expect virtually unlimited access to top flight medical services at zero, or very low, cost if you have a medical emergency.

The second is that when you move you’ll be losing contact with friends, relatives and your local network.

While you can meet lots of new people in expat communities, they are not friends that you’ve known for 30-40 years and may not be that concerned if you have a problem. As we get older, friends and families (and grandchildren) become more important and losing all that, for many people, may not be an easy adjustment.

So, while retiring overseas is an option you may not have previously considered, like most things in life, it has advantages and disadvantages.

Paul McKeon is the editor of, writes about issues experienced by people considering retirement. His focus is on the people who think about organising their money but are unprepared for the many lifestyle challenges that lie ahead.