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Sun, sea and sexagenarians: the top 10 retirement destinations

We take a look at the top 10 countries to retire to.

1. Spain

Research by specialist annuity provider MGM Advantage revealed that the UK's favourite overseas retirement destination is Spain.

A survey conducted with over 2,000 adults showed that UK citizens want sun, sand and sangria in their retirement, as Spain took 26% of the votes to claim the top spot.

MGM Advantage said over 6 million UK adults are planning to retire abroad with an event split between Europe and the rest of the world.

If you are retiring to Spain and receive a UK state pension, long-term incapacity benefit or bereavement benefit, you are covered for state-run health care in Spain.

MGM Advantage said although you need to look at your tax position carefully and seek expert advice, generally if you move to Spain to retire permanently, you will pay income tax on your pension in Spain as the counrty has a double taxation agreement with the UK to avoid paying tax in both countries.

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2. France

Scooping second place in the UK's favourite retirement hotspots is France.

France took 17% of the votes in MGM Advantage's survey.

But before you grab your passport and chic striped jumper, make sure you understand the income tax implications on your pension.

MGM Advantage said in general if you are moving to France to retire permanently, you will pay income tax on your pension in France. France has a double taxation agreement with the UK to avoid people paying tax in both countries.

However, if you have a 'government pension' this will be taxed in the UK. Government pensions are paid to people who have worked for the civil service or armed forces, it does not include a state pension.

If you are receiving a state pension, you should apply for a S1 form whilst in France which will entitle you to 'essential care'. This will also cover around 70% of the costs of care, with the remainder paid by you or an insurance policy.

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3. USA

The USA scored third place with 16% of those surveyed stating they want to Go Large in their retirement.

However, living the American dream may not be easy, MGM Advantage said unless you have direct family in the US who are already US citizens and can sponsor your applications, outright retirement can be very difficult to achieve.

You would need to apply for an E-2 visa or an EB-5 visa. The former is for people who are planning to start or develop a business in the US, and the latter is an immigrant investor visa designed to attract foreign capital into the US but you'd need to invest $1 million into a new or existing business established after November 1990 and the business must create full time work for at least 10 US workers.

A third way, popular among Britons, is to spend up to six months each year in the US using a B-2 tourist visa. These visas are issued for 10 years but allow for multiple trips during this period.

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4. Australia

The lure of a hot Christmas on the beach has worked on many Britons as Australia takes fourth place in the top retirement hotspots with 14% of the votes.

MGM Advantage said to retire to Australia, you must first apply for an Investor Retirement Visa (unless you have family ties to Australia) which grants you temporary entry and does not lead to permanent residence in Australia or to Australian citizenship.

In order to do this you must be 55 years or older, have no dependants and be able to support yourself in Australia without cost to Australian social and welfare services.

The Investor Retirement Visa requires you to be sponsored by a state/territory government in Australia. Depending on where you choose to live you have to demonstrate that you have sufficient wealth.

Although the Investor Retirement Visa does not lead to permanent residency in Australia you can apply for further temporary visas and there is no maximum on the number of years you can stay in the country.

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5. The Far East

Many Britons are looking for an exotic retirement as 13% voted to up sticks and move to the Far East for their relaxation years.

One of the biggest attractions of retirement in countries including Thailand is the cost of living. Currently Thailand scores 0.319 on the international cost of living index, in comparison to the 1.00 for the USA. This means that living in Thailand costs around 1/3 of the cost of living in the USA.

In order to obtain a one-year retirement visa in Thailand, you must be 50 years old or above, have a passport, a non-immigrant visa, proof of meeting the country's financial requirements, a Thai bank book and a letter from your Thai bank.

The financial requirements are a bank account showing THB 800,000 (£14,720) and a monthly income of at least THB 65,000.

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6. Canada

Canada secured sixth place in the top retirement hotspot list.

There are no formal retirement visas available in Canada so people looking to retire in that country need to gain a sponsorship from a family member already living there or apply for an investment visa.

As a retired person it might be more difficult to qualify for permanent residency in Canada as the government will consider your ability to work and support yourself as an important factor to grant you the status.

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7. Italy

Many Britons have been daydreaming about escaping to an idylllic countryside cottage in Tuscany, as Italy takes 7th place in the retirement hotspot list.

MGM Advantage said generally if you are moving to Italy to retire permanently you will pay income tax on your pension and/or other income in Italy. The country has a double taxation agreement with the UK to avoid people paying tax in both countries.

Your UK state pension will continue to be paid if you move to Italy and you will automatically receive any annual increases.

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8. South East Europe

The Hellenic Republic is anything but a hellish retirement destination as Britons voted it the 8th best place to wind down.

The UK basic state pension is payable in Greece. To enable a pension to be paid directly into a Greek bank account, a form must be obtained from the Pensions Service. This needs to be completed by the pensioner giving all his/her Greek bank account details.

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9. India

India's low-cost but vibrant and culturally rich way of life has attracted lots of Britons to push it up to the 9th best country to retire to.

However it may be tricky. India does not currently offer a retirement visa programme. The country does offer a tourist and a business visa, but for the former, which grants access for up to six months, also requires a two month break before tourists return to the country.

India's business visas are available for periods of one year and in special cases Indian embassies can issue visas that are valid for five or ten years.

India also offers special long-term entry visas for people of Indian origin that are living abroad. This allows non-Indian citizens to live in the country for up to five years at a time without having to re-apply for Indian citizenship.

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10. Portugal

Portugal just managed to sneak into the top 10 retirement destinations thanks to the beautiful and hugely popular Algarve.

People who have been resident, employed and made pension payments in an EU-member country are still entitled to pension and healthcare rights.

UK pension credit is not payable in Portugal.

Retirement is all well and good, but how about living somewhere with no income tax? Why not click here to check out these places...

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