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Luis: The most efficient options are the Non Habitual Resident program (which allows retirees to become resident in Portugal and to receive pension income in the country tax-free) and the Golden Visa program (which requires the purchase of 500,000 euros of real estate).

Lucy: I believe there's a "sufficient income" requirement for the Non Habitual Resident program. How much is "sufficient"?

Luis: The legislation stipulates the minimum working wage (around 485 euros per month currently) for the principal visa holder, 50% of that value for a spouse, and 30% per child. These requirements can be reduced if the applicant can prove he already has lodging paid for or guaranteed.

Lucy: Resale apartments are good value (from 90,000 euros), but it seems to me that houses and villas are expensive, especially for a country that has suffered so much during the "crisis" and is presumably still recovering. Are there any "mega" deals to be had?

Luis: Yes, there are some very good deals, though they're less common than a year ago. One of the reasons is that Portugal did not have the level of overbuilding seen in Spain. Bottom line, it is still a buyer's market. Distressed private sellers and bank repossessions provide the best bargain deals.

Lucy: What about a renovation?

Luis: Silves is a good municipality for renovations for two reasons. In Silves' city center you have a range of wonderful old buildings, some of which have been abandoned. Outside the city are rural properties that have been left as owners moved to cities. A Silves city property could be a great project, especially if it's located near the river. It could even be eligible for a government grant.

Lucy: Luis, you've mentioned that it's easy to open a bank account in Portugal, even for U.S. citizens? Is this still the case?

Luis: Yes, it's true...even for Americans.

Lucy: I've lived in Latin America without health insurance. The costs for medical care were so low that it made more sense to pay-as-you-go rather than pay for expensive health insurance. Could that be an option in Portugal?

Luis: Yes, absolutely, once you have the right to use the public system. Before then, insurance is advisable. In fact, the Golden Visa program, for example, requires that you prove you have insurance for the first year at least. However, you have very reasonable insurance options, including for less than 20 euros per person per month in some instances.

Lucy: What type of retiree would you say would enjoy living in the Algarve?

Luis: Someone who likes to be active, who appreciates a tranquil location, who wants to be part of an expat community, but who also wants a chance to become part of a local community...

If you don't like great weather, stay away.

If you want a very good cost of living for the quality of life on offer, then this part of Portugal is a great option.

Kathleen Peddicord

Editor's Note: If you're an Overseas Retirement Circle member but missed yesterday's live teleconference with Luis, you can access it now on your members' website.

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May 12, 2014

"Kathleen, my wife and I are seriously looking to retire overseas but do have an issue that we need your honest input. I have MS and use a scooter or wheelchair to move about. I can do some limited stand/walking but not long walks or stairs. Are we limited or totally restricted in finding a country or location where I could move about?

"Thank you for your time in this matter."

--Russell D., United States

Yes, your options for where you might retire overseas are limited, but you do have some good ones. Bottom line, you'll need to focus on cities—not towns and certainly not rural regions.

Central America is out. Sidewalks don't exist in this part of the world. Curbs, where they exist, are high. Public buildings do not have ramps. Access in general is restricted.

You might be OK with a biggish city in South America. Medellin has decent sidewalks and disabled access in public buildings and could be worth a look, understanding that, while this city boasts top-notch and handicapped-accessible infrastructure, it's also a city of hills.
Europe is complicated. This part of the world tries to make everywhere accessible, but old towns and medieval villages present special challenges. Still, many cities in Europe likely would work for you.

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.

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