Embarking on a journey to explore the top 10 destinations where Americans can comfortably retire and secure a mortgage, we delve into the nuances of the mortgage process in each of these countries, as per the information available up until September 2022
- Mexico: Mexico is a popular choice due to its proximity to the U.S., lower cost of living, and the ease of obtaining a mortgage for foreigners. Foreigners can purchase property through a bank trust known as a “fideicomiso”. The bank acts as the trustee, and the buyer is the beneficiary of the trust. The buyer has the right to sell, lease, mortgage, and pass the property on to heirs.
- Costa Rica: Known for its natural beauty and stable economy, Costa Rica also has a straightforward process for foreigners to buy property. Foreigners have the same rights as locals when it comes to buying property. However, getting a mortgage from a Costa Rican bank can be difficult and require a lot of paperwork. Many expats choose to finance through their home country or purchase the property outright.
- Panama: Panama has a program called the “Pensionado” which is very attractive to retirees. It also has modern infrastructure and uses the U.S. dollar. Panama allows foreigners to own a property outright. Mortgages are available, but the process can be lengthy and require substantial documentation, including proof of income.
- Portugal: Portugal’s affordable cost of living, warm climate, and friendly mortgage policies make it a great choice. Portugal offers mortgages to non-residents, typically up to 80% of the property’s value. The process includes providing proof of income and having the property appraised by a bank-approved company.
- Spain: Spain offers a non-lucrative visa that allows foreigners to reside in the country without working. Mortgages are available to foreigners, although the terms may not be as favorable as for residents. Non-residents can get a mortgage, but they may only borrow up to 60-70% of the property’s value. The process involves providing financial documentation and having the property appraised.
- France: While the cost of living can be high, especially in cities like Paris, France’s quality of life and the ability for foreigners to secure a mortgage make it a viable option. French banks offer mortgages to foreigners, often up to 80% of the property’s value. The process can be lengthy and requires substantial documentation.
- Italy: Italy offers a variety of regions to choose from, each with its own unique lifestyle and cost of living. Foreigners can obtain a mortgage, but it may require a substantial down payment. Italian banks offer mortgages to foreigners, usually up to 60% of the property’s value. The process involves providing financial documentation and having the property appraised.
- Malaysia: Malaysia’s “My Second Home” program makes it easy for foreigners to retire in the country. English is widely spoken, and the cost of living is low. Malaysia allows foreigners to own property, but the minimum purchase price is typically higher for foreigners than for locals. Mortgages are available from Malaysian banks, usually up to 70% of the property’s value.
- Thailand: Thailand is known for its affordable cost of living and beautiful landscapes. However, while foreigners can’t own land, they can own the building on the land and condominium units outright. Mortgages are generally not available to foreigners, so most property purchases are cash transactions.
- Belize: Belize is attractive due to its low cost of living, beautiful beaches, and the ease of English communication. The country allows foreigners to own property and secure a mortgage, but the process can be complex. It’s common for transactions to be cash-based, or for financing to be secured from a bank in the buyer’s home country.
Please consult with a financial advisor or real estate professional before making any decisions, as the situation can change, and the rules can vary.