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Expat Starter Kit

21 valuable resources to help you find paradise.

U.S. Government

International Travel Section, Bureau of Consular Affairs
The State Department provides a searchable map by country with international travel basics. Click on your destination country and read background information, as well as reports on road conditions, crime, and medical facilities.

Travel and Retirement Abroad Guide for Older Americans
Another State Department guide with useful information on handling emergencies and health insurance abroad.

Federal Benefits and Federal Agency Services for American Citizens Abroad
A guide for expats on everything from receiving Social Security payments to voting and taxes.

The Internal Revenue Service
Check out the IRS website for info on paying taxes while living abroad. Look here for answers to the top 10 questions asked by expats.

Health Insurance

Many companies offer health insurance for Americans living abroad. Here are two, but be sure to do your homework.

ASA Inc.
ASA has been providing international insurance for Americans traveling or relocating abroad since the 1980s.

BUPA International
One of the world’s largest providers of expat health insurance, BUPA offers a number of different plans.

Books & Magazines

Retirement Without Borders: How to Retire Abroad in Mexico, France, Italy, Spain, Costa Rica, Panama, and Other Sunny Foreign Places
by Barry Golson
Our author provides a detailed and informative look at retiring in more than 10 countries.

How to Retire Overseas: Everything You Need to Know to Live Well (for Less) Abroad
by Kathleen Peddicord
Should you rent or buy? Where are the best places to retire? Peddicord offers insight into a number of different destinations.

The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica
by Christopher Howard
Howard, an American living in Costa Rica, offers insider advice on how to buy a home, start a business, learn Spanish quickly, make friends, and even find romance. He has also written informative books on living and investing in Panama and Nicaragua.

Easy Belize: How to Live, Retire, Work and Buy Property in Belize, the English Speaking, Frost Free Paradise on the Caribbean Coast
By Lan Sluder
The subtitle pretty much sums it up.

Escape from America Magazine
An online publication devoted to helping people navigate every aspect of expatriate life.

Expat Sites and Blogs

Expat Forum
This popular social-networking site lets you search by country and location, participate in discussions, and post questions.

What do expats living in your country of choice really think? Click on your destination to read blog posts and see forum questions.

Transitions Abroad
Information and updates on expat issues, country-specific articles, and leads to find out more.

Escape Artist
Tips on what to consider before retiring abroad, and a range of country-specific info.

Expat Exchange
A large online community for English-speaking expats with information on topics ranging from auto rental and shipping to satellite and cable television.

The Association of American Residents Abroad (AARO)

Based in Paris, AARO is an advocacy group working to protect the rights of Americans living abroad and to provide expats with updates on key issues.

American Citizens Abroad
This Geneva, Switzerland– and Washington, D.C.–based organization works with U.S. lawmakers to protect the rights of Americans living abroad.

International Community Foundation
The ICF works to increase volunteerism and charitable giving outside the United States.


Migration Policy Institute, "America’s Emigrants: US Retirement Migration to Mexico and Panama"
A detailed investigation into the experiences of American living in Mexico and Panama.

International Community Foundation, "Housing and Real Estate Trends Among Americans Retiring in Mexico’s Coastal Communities"
A compehensive 2010 report on the attitudes of expats living in Mexico, with a focus on real estate issues.