Can a US citizen retire to Canada?
May 23, 2011 8:16 AM   Subscribe

The earliest I could possibly retire is about 15 years away and I've been thinking about retiring in Canada somewhere. The catch: I'm a US citizen and I don't currently live or work in Canada. Am I kidding myself?

It's not clear to me that I would fit into any of the categories that Citizenship and Immigration Canada has on their website if I'm no longer working (I could qualify as a "skilled worker" at present, though). I will have my 401-K and other investments along with the profits from the sale of my house.

I've seen some scammy-looking web sites that claim this is possible but none that I would trust. Is there something I could be doing now to help this process in the future (assuming it can be done)? I live within an hour and a half of the border so it's not much of an issue to go there if need be.

Oh, and by "retire" I mean stop working in my current field and not necessarily stopping working entirely. If that matters, of course.
posted by tommasz to Law & Government (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What would you do in Canada? It's possible to apply as an entrepreneur, but there are wealth requirements for that. According to this site (which looks accurate as far as what I personally know about the Canadian immigration system), the "retiree" category was eliminated from the Canadian system in the late '80s.

Honestly, if you want to retire in Canada it would probably be easier to immigrate now, while you're younger and can possibly qualify as a skilled worker. Most categories of immigrants to Canada (including entrepreneurs and skilled workers) are graded on a point system, and if you're older than 50 (or younger than 20) you get fewer points. This is not to say that the process will be easy, in absolute terms — just that it'll be easier than trying to apply as a retiree without as sure a way to support yourself in terms of income and health care.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:47 AM on May 23, 2011

I briefly looked into this for an uncle who wanted to come with his wife and her American sister. Canada like most countries is not particularly welcoming to foreign retirees, because they use the health care system but haven't contributed to the taxes that pay for it. You can apply as a skilled worker or as a business investor, but as a retiree it seems to me that neither category is appropriate. What many people do it seems is split their time between Canada and the US such that they maintain US residency (6 months in each place, plus a day extra in the US).

You could apply to immigrate to Canada now and eventually gain citizenship, which takes only I think three years of residency; once you have the passport you can come and go as you like.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:50 AM on May 23, 2011

Your only viable option -- a Canadian wife. Making your schedule, you have lots of time to set this up.
posted by Rash at 9:01 AM on May 23, 2011

I think my wife might not be willing to let me have a Canadian wife. Of course, I've never actually asked.

Well, it's good to get hopes dashed early, rather than late. Thanks for your answers.
posted by tommasz at 10:11 AM on May 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

Your best bet is to acquire canadian permanent residency through forms right now.
You have time right now...get to it.

Get a canadian address (ie. Someone in canada is willing to let your mail arrive).

Stay low key...don't cross the us/canada border enough times so they can track you.

Apply for citizenship before 54.

Don't ask your wife to let you marry a canadian.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:32 PM on May 23, 2011

Unfortunately I'm already past 54 and I don't know of anyone who I could ask to let mail come to their address. I already knew this would be a long shot so I'm content to work on Plan B.
posted by tommasz at 2:03 PM on May 23, 2011

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