It’s here: the ultimate ‘me time’! Sweet, sweet retirement. If you’re determined to make the most of it, good for you! Today we’re taking a closer look at whether you can retire to the USA, and considering your visa and healthcare options. We’re also checking out some fantastic corners of the country where you can start your search.
Retiring to the USA, either permanently, or via buying USA property to spend the winter in is an incredibly popular choice with Brits. If you choose your state wisely, you’re almost guaranteed perfect weather. Additionally, you’ll be able to access some of the world’s top attractions and enjoy getaways to exciting corners of the country. That includes buzzing, bustling cities, awe-inspiring national parks and peaceful rural communities.
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You can still find affordable property too, and considerably more spacious homes than in the UK. Plus, they often come complete with pools, sun-decks, gardens and workshops. Just the place to try your hand at woodwork or painting – all the time to fulfil those dreams. Bliss! And you don’t need to be part of a couple either. Americans genuinely love the British and will always make singletons welcome!
So how do you do it?
Visa options for retirees
Buying residential property doesn’t automatically grant you residency in the USA, unfortunately. However, there are ways to visit your property on a long-term basis, or even to stay permanently. Read more about visas here.
If you only plan to spend three months (90 days) a year in the USA when you retire, you can do so under the Visa Waiver Programme. To be eligible you need an up-to-date e-passport, have secured your ESTA online, have a return ticket, and be able to provide an address where you’ll be located for the duration of your stay. Your ESTA only costs £11 and is valid for multiple trips to the US of up to 90-days over a two-year period.
If you want to stay for a longer period or on a permanent basis, you will need a visa.
Non-immigrant visa option
The B-2 visa is still a tourist visa, which means you can’t work, but it does allow you to stay in the USA for up to six months for tourism purposes. You will need to apply online, pay the application fee of $160 (£122) and schedule an interview at the US Embassy in London.
You should be able to get an appointment at the embassy within just eight days. Take along all required documents and your passport and expect to spend two hours in the embassy. You will be sent your passport with your visa in it within one week. While these visas usually only grant you six-month stays in the USA, it is possible in some instances to secure extensions. For British passport holders, a B-2 visa will be valid for 10 years.
Immigrant visa option
If you want to pack up everything you own and move to the USA on a permanent basis, things are decidedly more tricky – but not impossible! The EB-5 investor visa is a good option for those with the cash. To be eligible for this visa, you need to start a business that will create jobs. Don’t worry, you don’t have to run it, necessarily, or even live in the same area.
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While it’s certainly a pain that this visa can take up to a year to come through, if successful it could lead to a green card and you being granted permanent residency within the United States.
In order to be eligible for the EB-5 visa, you must:
– Invest a minimum of $1 million (£760,500), or $500,0000 of your own money in designated high unemployment or rural areas
– Create a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for US citizens within two years.
Healthcare options for retirees
Ensuring your health is looked after should be paramount for those retiring to the USA. Whether you are staying for a short time, or on a permanent basis, it’s important to be insured from the minute you touch down in the country. How much your health insurance plan costs will depend on your age, health background, whether you have been, or are still, a smoker, and what state you are located in.
After the age of 50, insurance premiums rise in price significantly. According to ehealthinsurance.com, the average monthly premium for those living in the USA aged 55-64 was $790 (£600) at the end of 2018. It is possible to save some cash if you purchase an insurance package covering you and your partner.
Best locations for retirees
1 – Florida
Move to Florida and you’ll enjoy mild winters and warm summers. You can buy affordable property in close proximity to either incredible beaches or attractions such as Disneyland and Universal Studios. That should guarantee regular visits from the grandchildren! Additionally, there is no state income tax, and any retirement income is exempt from state taxation. While the cost of living in Florida is around the US national average, you will pay below the odds for goods and services.
Buyers in Florida should be aware of one significant cost – homeowners insurance. How much you pay will depend on your location within the state, so definitely check this with your realtor pre-purchase. According to Insurance.com, the average annual rate of homeowner’s insurance on a property worth $200,000 (£152,500) costs $3,575 (£2,725) per year in Florida.
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Punta Gorda is an idyllic waterfront spot on Florida’s southwest coast. Around 40% of the population are retirees. They’re drawn here by the entertainment options, beaches, and the nature trails of Ponce de Leon park. The median property price here is $154,400 (£118,000).
Naples is another excellent option for retirees. In fact, it’s been voted the top retirement spot in all of the American south! Located on the Gulf of Mexico, 50% of Naples’ population is over 65. Here you’ll find lots of golf courses and opportunities for recreational activities. Furthermore, there are more than 28 medical centres per 1,000 residents and the tax burden is lower here than in most US states. The median property price in Naples is $307,100 (£234,000).
Sarasota, or Florida’s ‘cultural coast’ as it’s better known, has ample museums and gardens to explore. It also has the best beaches in all of Florida: Siesta Key and Lido Beach. The median home value here is $189,400 (£144,500).
2 – Arizona
Arizona is another excellent choice for sun-lovers retiring to the USA. As well as warm weather all year round, Arizona boasts low tax burdens, plenty of healthcare centres, a high population of seniors, and a number of top-notch retirement communities. The state is close to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, but don’t imagine it’s all desert. There are national forests to explore and many a golf course to drive a cart around.
Prescott is a popular location close to the Grand Canyon, which attracts lovers of an outdoor lifestyle. The town, which has a population of 35% seniors, offers lots of outdoor activity opportunities, mostly in Prescott National Forest and the other national forests found close by. The average property price in Prescott is $364,200 (£277,600).
Golden Valley is another popular choice with retirees, given its proximity to Las Vegas and its low tax burden, which is the lowest of all Arizona’s cities. The average property price here is $135,700 (£103,450).
3 – California
California is bigger richer and more interesting than many entire countries. Retiring here means enjoying gorgeous sunshine, time at the beach or in nature and great food and wine, within a welcoming community. There are plenty of affordable direct flights back to the UK. You can also reach the Caribbean, Central and South America with ease if you fancy exploring that corner of the world. What a wonderful retirement!
Check out the city of Thousand Oaks when retiring to the USA. The relatively small city is a safe spot with a low crime rate offering lots of entertainment, activity and healthcare options. Of the 128,560 residents, almost 70% are seniors. Two-bedroom properties in Thousand Oaks start from around $189,000 (£143,840).
Roseville is another city with a small-ish population of (126,300). Those who settle here can enjoy a more suburban vibe than in other Californian cities. Furthermore, Roseville has been voted the second-best place to retire in California due to its safety, healthcare services, entertainment options and its many lovely neighbourhoods. Popular choices include, Maidu, Cirby Ranch and Olympus Pointe. Two-bedroom properties in Roseville start from $189,000.
California can be an expensive option, but read our guide, How to Negotiate Abroad, for insider tips and tricks on getting the best price when dealing with estate agents.
4 – New England
If you want to retire to the USA but still enjoy glimpses of home, New England could be for you. This region is chock-full of charming olde-worlde towns to explore. With national parks, scenic coastlines, mountains and offshore islands, it is perfect for weekend (or mid-week!) getaways.
Let’s not forget to mention the food. New England is known for its sensational lobster, seafood and chowder. Being located here means enjoying four seasons, close proximity to the UK – London is just a six-hour flight from Boston – and easy access to Canada and New York City.
Lewiston is a safe and tranquil town in Maine, on the Androscoggin River just 30 miles north of Portland. This gorgeous corner of the country is popular with retirees, artists and nature lovers. Here you’ll enjoy a low cost of living and affordable housing. If you’ve always wanted to take up art when you retire, there is cheap and cheerful studio space. The town boasts an art museum, arts centre, arts district and a public library that hosts concerts and events throughout the year. You can buy a three-bedroom house in Lewiston from $155,000 (£118,000).
Newport County is a popular areas for retirees who want to keep active, with 400 miles of coastline
If you have your sights set on Rhode Island, Newport County is a popular areas for retirees who want to keep active. The area boasts more than 400 miles of coastline, bordered by sandy beaches perfect for sunbathing during summer. This is another popular spot with boat enthusiasts – set sail from Newport and you can visit a whole range of fantastic coastal New England towns. Three-bedroom houses start from $340,000 (£259,000).