Homeland Beckons Immigrants as Retirement Nears – NYTimes.com

Assume similar pattern likely exists for Canadian immigrants who decide to return to their country of origin:

No overall statistics are available for how many people return to their native countries to retire, but consultants, real estate agents and others who help immigrants make the journey say the numbers are increasing.

They leave for many reasons: They worked in menial jobs in the United States and can afford a much higher standard of living in their native countries; they want to be around their relatives as they age for emotional and practical reasons; the spouses they immigrated with or married in the United States have died or they have divorced.

Federico Mejia, the general manager of Su Vivienda Internacional, a consulting and international real estate company catering to Colombians, said his business had doubled in the last decade.

“An increasing number want to go back to Colombia to retire,” Mr. Mejia said. Demographics is one reason. One of the big waves of Colombian immigrants hit American shores in the 1970s, so most are reaching retirement age.

Also, Colombia, like some other Latin American countries, has become more economically and politically stable in recent years, so it is a more appealing place to return to. And, like many immigrants, Colombians feel a deep emotional pull.

But the economics should not be underestimated. Alfredo Padilla, director of Expresito Carga, a shipping business in New York that specializes in working with returning immigrants, said that in the last five or six years, an increasing number of retirees were moving back to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

On an income that can barely sustain one person in New York, “you can live like a king in Ecuador,” Mr. Padilla said.

That is because people not only have the money they have saved, but if they have paid into the Social Security system while working in the United States, they can continue to receive payments abroad. But some exceptions apply, so it is wise to check the Social Security website.

While Social Security is portable, those returning to their home country will not be eligible for Medicare, which can be a major disadvantage, Mr. Rigor said. Medicare is generally not available outside the United States and its territories, even for American citizens who have paid into the system.

“People want to be covered by the benefits they accrue,” said Mr. Rigor, who moved to the United States from the Philippines in 1982. The Center for Medicare Portability, a nonprofit research organization,lobbies to get Medicare laws changed so Americans living overseas can receive benefits.

For some, however, losing Medicare is more than offset by their native country’s health care system. Janet Todosychuk, 59, returned to Vancouver, British Columbia, last month after living in Los Angeles for 35 years. A divorce prompted the move, but the fact that most health care is almost free in Canada has been a huge relief, Ms. Todosychuk said.

“I was paying $615 a month for health insurance,” in Los Angeles, she said. “It was definitely a factor in moving.”

Paul Kurucz, an instructor of marketing at Vancouver Island University, runs a website for returning Canadian natives. It started as a hobby, and although much of the information is free, he now offers a planner and guide for $25.

He said about 50 people a year inquire about returning to Canada to retire — mostly Canadians who immigrated to the United States but some who left for other countries.

Having relatives in Canada is probably the No.1 reason older people want to return, he said, but health care is the second. And the third is fear about the future of Social Security and their retirement income if they stay in the United States into old age.

Homeland Beckons Immigrants as Retirement Nears – NYTimes.com.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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